10/22/2009 10:13 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Great to Good: How Promotions Can Derail a Career


Want to take your career from Great to Good? It's simple: get the wrong direction.

It is fact of life - your work will change dramatically over time. A job is merely a set of activities that you are asked to do. A set of behaviors on which you are measured. These activities and behaviors change greatly over the course of a career.

But the core, the most dominant aspects of your personality, your unique strengths and passions- the challenges that you are best at overcoming, the challenges in which you are the most engaged - these won't change. It is your responsibility to ensure that the path you take moves you closer to leveraging your strengths and passions every day.

A promotion is not an obligation, it is an offer. An proposal for you to engage in a different set of activities and behaviors. Far too often, people look at a promotion as a requirement along a specified career path. It is only logical that I accept the promotion - hey, it offers an incremental increase in money and prestige!

But if a promotion will lead you away from your Primary Color (your core strengths and passions), over time your energy level will decline, your performance will decline, and your confidence (and thus leadership) will decline. Accepting a promotion that moves you in the wrong direction puts your success and fulfillment at risk.

Evaluate a promotion (the offer) honestly against your strengths and passions. Be willing- no kidding- to say no. Consider asking your supervisor to think with you about unconventional directions for your growth in the organization. Best yet, proactively develop alternative paths (ones that better leverage your strengths and passions) before it is time for a promotion.

REMEMBER: The purpose of your life is not to grow into someone else. It is to lead from your heart, from your own unique strengths and passions. Identify the career path that will move you in THAT direction - and then promote yourself!

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