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How Being Coy Can Be Costly to Your Career

Whether you are entry level or c-level, being the CEO of your career will put you in the driver’s seat letting you navigate your career trajectory, on your own terms.

Here is why it’s important to take the reins of your own career today, especially inside your current company.

This is the story of Bianca.

Bianca was a senior engineering manager for a major electricity company. With 15 years under her belt, she was a quiet and unassuming manager who kept her head down and her team busy.

Unfortunately, Bianca and her manager did not enjoy a good rapport. Her manager was eventually promoted to an international division, and Bianca assumed the director’s duties for eight months—with firm results. When the replacement director was hired, Bianca promptly tendered her resignation.

Although the position was posted, Bianca assumed she would be offered the job. In her exit interview, Bianca reported that no one in the company had approached her to ask her to apply for the role. While she admitted that she regretted not expressing interest in the role, she believed that senior management should have tapped her for the role. This was Bianca’s mistake.

During senior management debrief, they reported that she had been earmarked for their high-potential “track” but were astounded that she did not apply. They assumed she was not interested. This was management’s mistake.

This lapse in communication led to a major loss for the organization and Bianca and her family. Although Bianca had another job to go to, it would take year months, if not years to regain the reputation and internal relationships that she had worked so hard to achieve in her previous job.

There are useful lessons here. This is a true story and one which happens far too often. If you are in an acting role or you believe you are ready for a promotion, it’s wise that you tell your manager.

Don’t be coy with your career. If there is an opportunity in your organization and you can complete at least 70% of the skills required (there are varying degrees of opinion on the percentage), take the time and effort to apply.

If the idea of applying for an internal job makes you feel uneasy, see the ever-popular TED talk by Amy Cuddy (20 minutes).

As Thomas Edison said: “Many of life’s failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

And to normalize the fear that we sometimes feel when we “step up” to a challenge, Steven Spielberg’s quote hits home: “I never felt comfortable with myself, because I was never part of the majority. I always felt awkward and shy and on the outside of the momentum of my friends’ lives.”