The Number One Reason You're Getting Passed Over for Promotions

05/08/2015 10:00 am ET | Updated May 08, 2016

By: Nozomi Morgan

Have you ever thought to yourself, I'm a capable, hard worker; are the stars misaligned? Why did he get that promotion when I'm so much smarter/better qualified/have seniority? Why isn't my boss recognizing what I have to offer?"

If you've entertained even a fragment of this type of thinking, you've landed on the right article. We're going to look at the number one reason (and a few other reasons) why you might not be moving up in your firm.

You Should Get Noticed -- But You Don't

First, let's establish that you are a highly competent professional; you know what you're doing and don't doubt your ability. People (your co-workers and bosses) know that you are a great, responsible worker. But they haven't yet seen the core value you bring to the table: that special thing only you can do.

In my coaching practice, I've labelled that thing you do better than anyone else your "superpower." If you're a terrific generalist -- you're OK at everything -- but you haven't been able to clearly communicate what your superpower is in the workspace, chances are you aren't standing out.

If you're blending in, even though your work is high quality, then you're not getting noticed. That plum promotion might go to someone who is actually less qualified than you are because they've been willing to display their unique talent.

When you're passionate about some aspect of your work, people will notice.

What If I Don't Know What My Superpower Is?

If we dive a little deeper, another reason you might get passed up is because you don't actually know yourself and your true talents well enough to have molded them into a shining gift.

When I work with clients, I want to understand them. I ask several questions to get people to reconnect with themselves. Who are you really? What are you passionate about? What are you really good at in life? What excites you? Why do you do what you do?

Peel back the layers you've accumulated in the past 30 or more years to understand your core values. Those will become your guiding principles, like an inner compass to help you know what is right or wrong for you, what excites you or doesn't and what feels good or bad.

Ready For a Promotion

"I'll speak up when I'm ready to get promoted," you say. But what if you never feel truly ready? Then you won't get that position. Ask yourself if "readiness" is an illusion.

I see internal struggles about perceived readiness for a promotion most frequently with women and there's even data to back it up: women tend to wait around and men tend to act.

If there's a job description listing numerous requirements, often a guy will say, "Oh I can do that." But a woman might focus more on the one or two skills she doesn't have out of the fifteen that are listed and say, "This job isn't for me." Neither of them has every single requirement, but one says "I can't do it," and the other says, "I'm ready." Or at least he's ready to jump in.

If you want a promotion just for the sake of getting a promotion, that's tough to get excited about. The promotion isn't the destination; it's just a point in the journey of your career and life. Good leaders are leaders in every aspect of their lives. They set the vision, commit, and decide to take action. How do you ultimately want to lead your career and your life?

If you're ready for a candid conversation about why you're getting passed up for promotions at work, click here to set up a complimentary Clarity Call with me.

Nozomi Morgan ( @nozomimorgan ) is an international leadership development coach and helps individuals and corporations to turn existing high potentials into top talent in the organization. Get instant access to Leadership Discovery Tool and step up as a leader and excel in your career and life.