Your situation isn't unusual, she says. Lots of people are terrific at what they do, but they hit a plateau mid-career for the same reason. "It isn't a question of competence at your job," she says. "It's a question of getting people to give you the chance to prove you are capable of more."
There's some great advice in this article for people trying to get noticed. How you present yourself, how you communicate and the wherewithal to go ask the boss for advice matter in getting the nod for greater things. What's missing, however, is the other side of the equation. Shouldn't a leader be proactively looking and testing for capacity in their teams?
We live in this crazy, discombobulated paradigm where laissez-faire bosses (capital holders, landowners, owners of means of production) are waiting for people to come to them, to sell to them, to essentially do all the heavy lifting for them.
Fine - this is how laissez-faire capitalism works. Bosses sit back and give out positions and gold starts to the most aggressively sales-oriented employees. As the article above states, it's the capacity to have "executive presence" that matters - not the presence of executive function.
Certainly, there are a lot competent, capable folk out there who have great talent and manage to rise to the top of the economic spectrum. At the same time, there are a lot of people really good at faking executive presence and, wouldn't you know it, downloading the work to those good at doing, not selling.
You know how we keep being told to "fake it until we make it?" This is where that trend leads, folks - too many people at the top have made it, but they've never stopped faking it.
Meanwhile, there are incredibly talented people out there who might not be as comfortable with self-promotion as, say, promoting something they believe in (like their company) or have less confidence than ability.
There are also a ton of people with incredible, untapped potential that will never get ahead because they don't speak the language or can't afford the dress of success.
We can say throw out Horatio Alger and say these people just need to work harder, but we're missing the point; when they don't, won't, or can't, they aren't the only ones losing out on opportunity - we are, too.
How successful would a talent scout that sat in their office waiting for people to come to them be? Not as successful as the one who went out, watched potential hires in action and learned to identify rough skills that could be nurtured.
Real leaders learn how to identify talent and work to nurture it. They see it as their primary objective to create new leaders.
This is why we have this paradigm shift where leadership is developing more among the front lines than it is at the top.
If they don't want to become completely obsolete, it's high time the world's bosses start making this link.