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Success In The Workplace Is As Easy As Pie

Why do some people manage to climb to the top while others struggle to even make it to management? Why don’t the hardest workers always get promoted the fastest? The answer is as easy as pie: Performance, Image, and Exposure.

I first heard of this model from one of my mentors at my current company. It really resonated with me at the time and it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s a very simple model that applies to anybody who is interested in moving up into positions of greater responsibility.


The first piece of the pie is Performance. This is your entry ticket into even being considered for the next level of responsibility. Every day you should be coming in to work with the goal of creating as much value as possible. We all see things in our companies that could be changed for the greater good of the organization. Be the one who steps up and helps see that change through.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Make a difference on every job and perform every day with the goals of the organization in mind.
  • Develop a reputation for delivering results.
  • Do everything with a sense of urgency and a drive to win.
  • Take on stretch assignments… always be on the look out for the biggest challenge.
Your performance is key. You must continue to grow to stay above the bar as it is being continually raised.


Think of image as your personal brand. The way that others perceive you is important because often times “perception is reality.” The only way to truly understand how others see you is to simply ask. This can be done informally or formally through 360 degree feedback.

Many of us have heard the statistic that 93% of communication is non-verbal. This means that a mere 7% of what we are communicating are the words coming out of our mouth. Image includes your confidence, attire, demeanor, and attitude. Whether you like it or not, people take notice of the way you carry yourself.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The only way to see yourself as others see you is to ask others for an honest assessment of what they see.
  • If your goal is leadership, it is helpful to take a measure of your image and compare it with the qualities of other successful leaders in the business.
  • You can always change your image if you are open to self-improvement.
Comparing yourself with the qualities of other successful leaders that you admire does not mean you have to totally become that leader and lose your authenticity. Take the best characteristics of each leader and build your own personal brand. Never stop being yourself.


Exposure is all about managing your network. You own your own career and you are responsible for creating connections and opportunities for yourself. By being visible to those who can influence your career, you’ll find yourself being presented with a greater variety of opportunities. Learning to get to know others on a personal level and really listening when they tell you about themselves are important skills in any profession.

Remember, the word networking has the word “work” right in the middle of it. Which means it takes hard work! Successful networking requires the productive time of time and resources to achieve your desired outcomes.

Something that a lot of people forget is that the main goal of networking should be to create value for other people. Understand their needs and help them to come up with solutions, preferably by leveraging someone else in your network that might be able to help.

Things to keep in mind:

  • The main goal of networking should be to help other people.
  • It’s far more important to understand their needs before you tell them about your needs.
  • Always try to provide as much value as you can.
  • Develop the habit of introducing people.
  • Keep in touch through social media, lunch, phone calls, messages, emails, and personal notes

And remember, networking is important, but your performance always comes first. Without solid performance, all the networking in the world won’t help you a bit. It might actually hurt you.

Putting The Pieces Together

Performance is a given in a high performing organization. Everyone is smart and everyone gets their work done. So it’s the other two pieces of the pie that will really help you advance in your career.

You might be thinking to yourself, “That’s not fair! Why do I need to worry about all this other stuff rather than simply be recognized for my hard work?” Because companies are not like schools. There is no simple gradesheet that ranks everyone by their work.

Companies today need lots of employees, but for the few that they promote into leadership roles, they need more qualities. They need visionary, inspirational, passionate leaders who will be able to rally the organization together in the purpose of a common goal.

So always be conscious of how you are showing up in the office. Really think about the qualities that you need to be a great leader and start to internalize those. And if you’re not quite where you want to be yet, simply “fake it ‘til you make it.” One day you will wake up and find out that you have turned into the leader that you have been striving to become.

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