I know you are amazing in your current role.
And I have zero doubts that you’re going to absolutely nail it as a senior executive leader someday.
But, I have some news for you that may be tough to swallow.
👉 The fact that you’re irreplaceable in your role is ruining your chances of getting promoted.
Being irreplaceable feels so good because it feels like job security.
But if you don’t start grooming your successor now, you’re going to be so securely attached to your current role that your leadership team is never going to promote you to the next one.
Look at it this way:
When you are irreplaceable, it’s easier for your organization to hire someone NEW to fill the role you want than it is to promote you and find a replacement (or, let’s be real, three replacements) to take over the work you are doing right now.
And yea, this sucks. I 100% agree.
But when you cling to being irreplaceable, you are shooting yourself in the foot.
So what do you do instead?
A) Start grooming your successor starting now.
B) You communicate this to the executive team so they know you have a plan.
Because you know what?
Executive leaders make plans.
They spot issues that may come up in their careers and they take action to overcome them.
And they communicate their big, bold strategies to the people who need to hear them.
So in this episode of Maximize Your Carer with Stacy Mayer, I’m showing you how to groom your successor AND how to let the executive team know so you can reach higher level executive roles and be successful once you get there.
Want to receive the recognition you deserve, step into a higher leadership position, get paid for your ideas instead of the hours you put in at work, and enjoy more time, freedom, energy, and joy? Then you need to get your hands on a copy of Promotions Made Easy. Get your copy here.
What You'll Learn:
- Why you can’t rely on your boss to help you find your replacement
- How getting promoted without the proper replacement will make it harder to perform at the executive level
- How to shift from being irreplaceable to getting promoted
- How to communicate this shift to the executive team
- Why being the only person who can do your job is selfish
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #109: Where You Need Straight A’s (and B-’s) In Your Professional Development
- Join my group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time (and access my 36-day executive reboot!)
- Get your copy of my brand new book, Promotions Made Easy: A Step-by-Step Guide to the Executive Suite
- Go to StacyMayer.com/Strategies to join my email list and receive my email series, Seven Promotion Strategies that Your Boss Won’t Tell You
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
Your next promotion is within your control and this podcast shows you how to get there. Welcome to episode number 120. In today's episode, I am showing you how being irreplaceable in your current position is actually holding you back from reaching that higher-level executive role and exactly what you can do to stop this terrible pattern and exactly what you can start to do to make sure that you're setting yourself up to not only reach those higher-level executive roles but to be successful once you actually get there. Listen on.
Welcome to Maximize Your Career with Stacey Mayer, a podcast about achieving your career goals while also being yourself.
Hello everyone. Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer, and super excited, as always, to be here with you again this week. I finally got my recording studio set up in my new home office and I'm thrilled. I hope it sounds as good on your end as I think it does on my end. But it's really good when you make a big change and you move into a new space to finally feel like you get things back in order, back at home, so that you can really do the work that you want to be doing. And I know that's how all of you feel as you're going through a thousand different transitions in your work and your home life. And so I'm thinking about you and sending you lots of love as you make whatever transition you're in right now. So before I get into today's episode, I want to tell you about something exciting that is happening inside of Executive Ahead of Time. Executive Ahead of Time is my group coaching intensive, and it's where I give you a step-by-step process to not only get yourself promoted into those higher-level executive positions but that you can have success once you actually land those leadership positions. So we have women who join the program who are looking to be more successful in their current roles and also looking to move into higher-level leadership roles.
So whatever phase you're in, this program is perfect for you. And the way that the process works is every week you get group coaching from me. And so I actually walk you through the different modules and we apply them to your unique situation and you get to learn from the other corporate badasses in the group. So it's really absolutely hands down, the best program out there, especially to give you the very practical tools to get you into those higher-level executive positions, because, quite frankly, your company needs you in a higher-level leadership role. And I am here to help you get there. Now, I said something exciting is going on there. So the program is exciting enough and the women get huge results just within a couple of weeks of joining the program, listening to the modules, making some small tweaks to their everyday conversations at work, and then they notice the feedback they're getting is just absolutely phenomenal. We had someone post inside of our Facebook group that she did exactly what I suggested in her weekly one-on-one with her boss, and her boss actually commented that it was the best one on one conversation he had had with her hands down. So she was excited because she got the information that she wanted. She felt included in the conversation. And then her boss was excited because she was showing up as a higher-level leader, the leader that he really wants her to be.
And so that is the kind of results that you can expect when you join us inside of executive ahead of time. But I'm not going to leave you waiting any longer. I'm going to tell you the exciting news of what's coming up. So starting April 21st, if you're listening to us, whenever you're listening to us, we're going to do a 36-day executive reboot, a 36-day executive reboot. So I'm going to be doing different things inside of the executive ahead of Time Group. We have almost 20 training modules when you join the group, which I recorded for the program about a year and a half ago, and I want to go through each of those modules and upgrade them and give you the lessons that I've learned since recording them a year and a half ago. Revisit some of the topics with you personally in either Facebook lives on our weekly group coaching calls. I'll also be giving you much-requested templates, toolkits, and things that you can really apply. So many women are like, I just want to be told the exact email to send my boss when requesting a 15-minute ally meeting, things like that. Stuff that I've been wanting to include as part of the program for a while now. And I'm not only going to hold myself accountable, but I want to give you all of these tools so that you can begin to get your own executive reboot and start to take your own career to the next level.
So if you've been thinking about joining executive ahead of time for a while, make sure you get in there before April 21st so that you can take advantage of all of these live training that will be doing over the months of April and May. And if you are listening to this podcast at a later date, everything will be recorded and added to the training program. You have lifetime access to all of the core modules, so definitely get in there, join us as soon as you can and start to reap the benefits of really your own executive leadership and really take yourself to that next level so you never have to wonder. I wonder if I'm going to get promoted or not. I hope this works out. We are taking ownership of our career and we're making things happen for ourselves. So hugely impactful work happening inside of Executive Ahead of Time. And I would absolutely love to have you join us in the next couple of weeks. Now for today's episode, I'm going to be talking about a little bit of a sensitive topic. And the reason why I call it a sensitive topic is that many of you listening are really, really great at your job and you take a lot of pride in how good you are at your job. And up until this point in your career, it was about actually, I have a podcast episode that I'll link to in the show notes where I talk about the grading system.
And so what I'm going to say here is that up until this point in your career, it was all about getting pluses in your work, right? So you wanted to do the best possible job you could do. You got hired to do something and you just knocked it out of the park. And I have no doubt that you didn't deliver overdeliver. And this is the reason why I say that is because every single woman that I meet, everybody who joins executive ahead of time, this is exactly where they are. They're really, really, really, really good at their job, but they're not getting promoted or they don't have that real voice at the table. And so a lot of the work that I do is how do we take the expertise that you have and turn it into leadership, really show the leadership team that you are operating at that higher executive level and not simply a subject matter expert. And I say simply because being a subject matter expert in your field is a big deal. And I want you to own that and I want you to be proud of everything that you've accomplished for the first 20 or 30 years of your career. So we should all be very proud of our expertise and what we're really, really good at.
But in today's episode, I want to show you how that expertise is actually holding you back from reaching that next level. And I'm going to do it in a way of explaining it like this. You need to find your replacement. If you want to be promoted into a higher-level executive position, you have to show leadership who is going to do your job after you leave. Now, this is tricky because you're probably the best person at your job right now. So let's say you're a director and you're just really fricking good at everything that you do, holding it all together. You're constantly saving the day. You're putting out fires in the middle of the night. Your boss is so thrilled to be able to call on you and to ask you for advice. You always know the answers. You're incredibly resourceful. You know where to find the answers. All of these are excellent, excellent traits. But what I want you to see is that all of these traits are actually keeping you stuck exactly where you are. And I'm going to give you a myriad of reasons today in today's podcast episode. But the first thing I want you to just know is the biggest reason that it's keeping you stuck where you are is that literally, nobody else can do your job. Nobody can do the role that you're currently doing as well as you.
So now let's imagine they promote you to the senior director or vice president and you're leading an even larger team. You can't possibly have a handle on all of those minute details. So you have to hand some of these things off, but you haven't adequately groomed a successor. And so basically now what you're doing is you're doing both jobs, you're doing the new VP role, but you're also doing the old job that you used to have because you're so good at it and it's just easier for you to do it yourself. Now you start to feel burned out and you were like, Why did I even go for this higher role, to begin with? Right. You see where I'm headed here. So that's if you got the promotion. But imagine what the executive team is thinking. The executive team is thinking we can bring in a seasoned vice president for this role from the outside to learn the vice president job rather than promote you and figure out who's going to replace you in your current role. I really want that to sink in. Imagine if you're a C-suite executive and you're looking at your org chart and you're thinking about hiring for a new VP or VP level. And you think about it and you look at it and you say, you know, Melinda is really a fantastic senior director and she's been here for five years and really it's her time to get promoted.
But unfortunately, I don't have anybody who could do what she's currently doing, but I could hire for a VP-level role to be her boss. I could hire from the outside somebody who's already been operating at that higher level and understands executive leadership, maybe understands the challenges of the organization or the industry in a different way, rather than figuring out who is going to do your current job, because that's a harder proposition for them than hiring from the outside. If you really, really think about it, if you're that good at your job, finding somebody to replace you is much harder than hiring a VP or an SVP to work above you. And that stinks, right? Like it's like a shot in the foot. It totally sucks. And I know that it sucks. And that's why I'm here to tell you that we have to have to start grooming your successor. We have to find replacements for the job that we're currently doing. And we have to communicate those replacements to executive leadership so that they can see that you have a plan for your promotion. When you take on that next-level role, this is what you're going to be doing instead, and that needs to happen. Yesterday, I was doing a stakeholder interview for one of my clients and I interviewed her boss, who was the CEO, and we were talking about her ability to get promoted into a CEO position.
And he just flat out told me, I can't promote her because we don't have anybody who could do her job. And I was like, What? And so I inquired more. I said, Well, what would that look like? Who would need to come on board? What about the people who are currently working for her? Right. And then he came up with several ideas, but that's not something that is a top priority for him. It's actually easier for him to hire a CEO from the outside and leave her in the position that she's currently in. Do you see where the predicament is here? Look at it from the executive team's perspective and the numbers of their priority list. So I go back and I tell her this and I say, You know what? He says that you're too good at your job and we need to find a replacement for you, otherwise you're never going to be promoted to CEO. And she's like, First of all, she's annoyed and frustrated, of course, rightfully so. But here's the good news. We found out we have the answer, right. So many of you aren't actually being told that's the reason you're not getting promoted. Like, it's amazing that the CEO told me this and of course, he could tell me this, but he wouldn't tell her directly that because it sounds so weird to actually say that.
So luckily she had that information because I was a coach and I was the go-between and because it was easier to tell me and I know the right questions to ask him, to get him to tell me these things. Anyway, so we go back to her, she figures out a plan and she does. Of course, she has a successor. Many of you do already have a successor. Of course, her successor is probably three different people, not just one. And we all know that, too, right? If we ever leave, three people are going to have to do our job. But that's fine because that's legit. You can map it out to your CEO and say, okay, this is who's going to do my job when I get promoted to CEO. Oh, so she developed her succession plan. She mapped everything out. She returned, had a follow-up conversation with her boss about her succession plan. He agreed to it. He thought it was a fantastic idea. And then separately, within two months, he promoted her to the CEO position. You see, that's how it works. It is very difficult for the executive team to promote you if nobody else can do your job. So now I mentioned that you could get promoted anyway, of course, and many of you have been there before and experienced burnout because nobody else can do your job and now you get promoted and then you bring all of your bad habits with you and you can't operate at that higher leadership level.
So you just find yourself with a higher title, maybe a little bit more pay, but you're hating your life, you're working around the clock, you're trying to solve everybody's problems, and you're still not invited to the executive team. So this is where I find a lot of women who enter executive ahead of time. They will already be in these SVP positions, but they find themselves still doing what they were doing in the lower management roles because they brought all of that desire to fix everything, to be the smartest person in the room, everything like that along with them. Another thing that comes up for a lot of women that I meet is this fear. So if I start making changes, what will the leadership team think of me? Will I truly be replaceable? We're also deathly afraid of being fired, of being let go, of being irrelevant. And I want you to remember that if you're really, really good at your job and you've worked really, really hard to get there, that fear is real. And I want to acknowledge you for that. And I want to say that's okay. It's okay to be a little bit scared that if you start shifting and you start communicating in this way, then they're going to say, Oh, well, we don't really need her in that role to begin with.
And we don't have a higher-level position for her, so we don't really need her at all, which is terrible. Right. So I want to acknowledge that fear. And now I want to say that we're not doing these changes overnight. So my process is called Executive Ahead of Time, you are becoming the executive ahead of time. And so what you're doing is you're slowly chipping away at what's working for you, what's not working for you. You're communicating differently but in a very, very subtle, slow, methodical way. Just like the win that I gave at the beginning of this call, I was talking about the woman who started communicating differently with her boss in a single 101. The change. The notice of the change can happen literally overnight on the positive. You can get immediate feedback. You can get promoted within one month. You've been trying to get promoted for three years and you could get promoted almost instantly. This is really, truly what's possible for you. But I also want you to know that what we're doing is not crazy. So you're not walking into your office one day and being like, okay, I am going to give up all my responsibilities, everything that I'm really good at, and I'm not going to do any of it right now. You know, I'm totally replaceable. Know I'm going to delegate everything that I'm doing. This is actually more what it looks like.
You are going to first realize that this is what you're doing. You are relying on your subject matter expertise to get ahead, and if you're still feeling stuck in your position, that means that it's too much. You're relying on your subject matter expertise to get ahead. You are putting yourself in a position where you are technically irreplaceable. So the first thing I want you to do is just acknowledge that that could be true, that that might be true if you are constantly called in the middle of the night to put out fires, but yet you're not being invited to the leadership team meetings, then it most definitely is true. All right. So the first thing is acknowledging it. And then according to today's episode, I really want you to think about who would do your job if you got promoted. Now, you'll still be there because you're going to get promoted and you'll be working above these people. So maybe they're your direct reports now. They'll still be your direct reports. You'll still be leading them, but you'll be leading them at a higher level. So you're going to start to think about who are your successors, you'll identify them again. It might be multiple different people doing your job. Very likely. Then you're going to think about, How can I start to groom those successors? How can I start to step back a little bit and let them take over, let them take ownership of something, maybe let them lead a meeting that you would normally be in charge of, and let them attend on your behalf?
Maybe you don't attend at all. Let them make powerful decisions, things like that, where you're starting to pull back a little bit, really thinking about who is going to take over when you get promoted. Now you're going to communicate. Now, this is the most important part of this process. You're going to communicate what it is that you're doing with your boss, with executive leadership. You're going to let them know that you started grooming your successor. You're going to let them know what's working and what's not working. You're going to ask for their opinion. Do you think that this makes sense as the organization continues to grow? As I grow in my career, you don't have to say as you promote me to see oh oh. Which you could totally. But you don't have to. You could just say, as I grow into the next level, as I grow into the next role, is this a possibility? Does this make sense? Is this somebody who could take over my role? Now you're getting feedback because what they're going to say to you is going to be pretty direct. They'll be like, Well, yeah, that's all fine and good, but unless you get these skills, you're not going to be a CEO, right? And you're like, Oh, really? Now we're having a real conversation about where the gap is for you and what you need to start learning and showing up as and building relationships and communicating and things like that.
Because up until this point it was like, well, maybe Melinda just doesn't want to get promoted because she's really good at her job and she seems to be happy right where she is. So we'll just leave her there for a while. And I'm happy because I don't have to do anything more right. I don't have to change anything. She's really great at her job. I don't have to worry about her. So that's the not the problem. I don't want to mess it up. I don't want to promote her and mess everything up. And so what you want to do is you start you want to start to show executive leadership that if you got promoted, you're not going to mess anything up. You're going to be operating at this higher level and the people below you are going to be taking over other responsibilities. Now, here is where this process really, really comes together when you start communicating like an executive leader. And in today's episode, I'm showing you how to communicate like an executive leader by communicating about the long-term vision. So executive leaders are technically not supposed to be very reactionary. Ideally. Yes, they pivot quickly. Yes, they make quick decisions. Yes, they make bold decisions.
But ideally, they're making decisions from the long game. They're looking at the future forecast. Right. They're having conversations about the future of the organization with the CEO, with the executive team. They're thinking in a bigger, bolder, smarter way. And so what you're doing is you're showing executive leadership that I'm thinking about my role in a bigger, bolder, smarter way. So you're communicating with executive leadership as an executive leader. You're asking higher-level questions as an executive leader. So what starts to happen? Previously, prior to listening to this podcast and implementing some of these changes, you were seen as the subject matter expert, as the person who was really, really great at their job. Is this one singular thing. Now you're showing executive leadership that you're really phenomenal as an executive leader, that you are capable of making big, bolder decisions at a higher level. The other thing is and here's the funny thing is that you may think a lot of advocating for your career and your promotion is very selfish, but the way that I'm teaching you this process is incredibly unselfish. So what's selfish is being the only person who can do your job. Think about it. That is so incredibly selfish. Every time you go on vacation, things fall apart. There was a woman in executive ahead of time that took this as a compliment. So she was out on maternity leave and her boss said to her like, Oh, I'm so glad you're back.
Everything totally fell apart when you were gone. And that feels good, right? It's like nice dopamine hit. It's terrible in terms of becoming an executive leader. You do not want things to fall apart when you're gone. That is completely irresponsible of you. So do you see how selfish that actually is? Really, truly. And so when you're saying to executive leadership, look, I am not so attached to this role and is known as the subject matter expert, I am willing to hand off responsibilities to six, eight, ten, ten team members. Right. To several different people, because I'm here for the long haul. I want to make this company successful. This company is bigger than just me having this teeny, tiny area of expertise. It's important to me that more people know my role. Now you're acting as an executive leader. You're showing them that you care about the organization. And so then they look at that and they're like, Oh, my gosh, we totally need her in a vice president role. Right. She must be included in these management team meetings because she gets it. It's incredibly unselfish. It's amazing how this works. And then at the end of the day, you look back and you're like, Whoa, now I'm leading a team of 200 people, but I don't actually have to do the work in terms of the details. I'm coming up with the ideas I'm looking at, the scope.
I'm connecting it with the future of the organization. I'm making big, bold decisions, but I'm doing it in a super-smart, calculated way that really benefits the organization. I'm getting enough sleep, I'm loving my job. I look forward to going to work, all of those things that we wish we had. But as long as you are still irreplaceable. Then you are basically showing the executive team that you cannot be promoted, that you do not have time to join the executive team meetings. Now, the last thing I want to leave you with is a scenario of your fear playing out. And I really want you to ask yourself this. So let's say your fear truly plays out. So you start grooming a successor and it seems like they're on board with it, right? You're communicating exactly as I suggested. This is what I'm thinking about. This is how I want to move up. And this is the value that I want to bring. And you're not just talking about it, you're actually asking really intelligent questions. You're engaging in the conversation at a higher level. You're building relationships all across the executive team. Let's say all of those great things happen. And then one day one of the executives looks and they're like, You know what? Linda's position is irrelevant. We don't actually need her anymore because now that she's no longer the subject matter expert, she's not quite an executive leader anymore, so let's just get rid of her.
So she's been here for eight years. The top performer exceeds expectations in every performance review. But you know what? She's irrelevant and we're going to get rid of her. What's your biggest fear? Good riddance. I say good riddance, literally. Look at that scenario. If that happened. Would you still want to work for that company? Yes. Your ego might be busted a little bit and you might be a little annoyed. But come on. That company doesn't deserve your expertise. You will be able to find an executive-level role somewhere else. Another fit. Another person that wants to work with you really respects your ideas and the enthusiasm that you bring to the role. We do not need to work for people who completely disrespect us. So if I really want you to know this, your worst fear plays out and they're like, You know what? We don't need her at an executive level. All we really needed her for was her to put in 60 hours a week, you know, punch in the clock. And we don't actually need her at this higher executive level. I'm going to say something that I probably shouldn't say, because hands down, we have a lot of people on the executive team who look and act the same way, and that's what we want. We don't want a diverse executive team that ruffles feathers, so we're just going to keep things exactly as they are and maintain the status quo.
So we're going to get rid of you. I do not want to work for that company. And it's going to feel like a hit at first. But you'll get over it and you will find a better job and you'll find a better fit. And you'll find a company that values you. And you'll find a company that you can continue to grow with at that higher executive leadership level. So I really want you to know that. So do what I'm saying. It's a little bit complex and simple all at the same time. The steps I've laid out in today's episode are basically understanding that you're irreplaceable, and that's meaning that you're not going to get promoted. Groom a successor. Let the executive team know that you've groomed that successor. Those are the steps that are quite, quite simple, and then there are nuances all throughout. So I encourage you to join us inside of Executive Ahead of Time, especially for our 36-day executive reboot. Will we be revisiting in a live format all of the modules so you'll be able to really deep dive and apply them to your career today? And otherwise, I just can't wait to see what happens next. Once you start to pull yourself out of the weeds, start operating at that higher executive level. Owning your worth and your value at your organization know that they need you in the C-suite more than you need them, and go out there and make some things happen for yourself.
Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you next week. Hold up. Wait a minute. Before you go, I want to tell you about the changes that I have made to the executive ahead of the Time coaching program. I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary of that program, and as a celebration, I decided to open it up for lifetime enrollment for all members. So what does that mean for you? It means that as soon as you join us inside of Executive Ahead of Time, you get immediate access to the 24 core training modules. You will get weekly live group coaching from me and you'll also be invited to our weekly roundtable discussions where you get to connect with other peers, and other powerhouse women, all looking to advance themselves into senior executive leadership positions for life. You are going to get lifetime access to everything that I offer inside of executive ahead of time. So if you've been listening to this podcast and you resonate with everything that I share here, then run, do not walk. To join us inside of the program, go to executive ahead of Time.com to register yourself today for lifetime enrollment. The earlier you register, the more life coaching you get from me inside of the program. Go to executive ahead of Time.com and I cannot wait to see you inside.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.