Dean Williams
Dean Williams


Plan for promotion or risk career suicide

All ambitious professionals will have their eye on advancement, but being too hasty to walk into a promotion can cause serious harm to a career.

Securing a step up the corporate ladder without the risk of falling off is like any major business project. It requires asking the right questions, meticulous planning and clear communication to all stakeholders if it is going to succeed.

Dean Williams, an award-winning executive coach and member of the highly prestigious Forbes Coaches Council, has conducted nearly 2,000 coaching sessions with high-flying executives over the last decade. He has helped many professionals achieve that coveted senior-level promotion and is now helping them thrive in their new role.

In his new book, Thrive: How To Achieve And Sustain High-level Career Success, Dean outlines a tried-and-tested roadmap to sustainable promotion that features a formula and science (his patented ‘Career Annulus’) for achieving optimum performance at a senior level.

Here he introduces some core areas of his Career Annulus, shares his experience and insight of what makes a professional thrive in a new role and, equally, highlights the pitfalls to avoid when advancing your career.


Firstly, a little bit of honesty is required. If you’re ambitious, that’s great, but what makes you feel you are ready for a more senior role? It is likely that the new role will come with increased demands and expectations so you need to be already achieving excellence in your current role before thinking about going to the next level. You need to demonstrate consistent excellence in terms of nailing your objectives and smashing your key performance indicators.

If you are not, what makes you think you are ready for the step up right now? Ambition alone is not enough if you are to sustain and thrive in the more senior position. Being purely CV hungry and mistiming your next move could, in fact, be career suicide!

When you move into a more senior role you are being watched more than ever from day one. People are also listening to your every word. It’s like being in a goldfish bowl and having a megaphone amplify your voice. You’ve got to genuinely be ready to step up, both in capability and mindset.


Having assessed your readiness, it’s time to tell others about your aspiration.

Clearly, this is about communicating with senior stakeholders but be warned: communicating your ambition with a key stakeholder carries an explicit expectation from them that you will demonstrate competencies and behaviours above those of your current role.

You will likely be offered more senior-level exposure (perhaps a senior project); you will probably hear developmental feedback from seniors (which definitely carries an expectation you will change); your results will be scrutinised and objectives added to. Not reasons to dampen your ambition, but definitely reasons to be ready. Don’t make the mistake of falling at the first hurdle!


In the eyes of senior stakeholders, and those making decisions on your future, the final call can be largely about assessing the risk of your promotion. Are you an obvious choice? Can you enter into the role seamlessly and make a positive impact quickly? In terms of your leadership, will others follow you? And fundamentally, assuming you are delivering excellence in your current role, who replaces you? If you’re that good, some would say ‘why lose you from that role?’.

Your succession planning is KEY to managing the potential risk of your own career advancement. Start to identify the quality within your team and nurture it alongside their level of ambition. Don’t not have a solution for your replacement!

In summary, Setting and readying yourself for success is of critical importance if you are to enjoy and sustain a thriving career. There are no real short-cuts to sustainable advancement.

By executive coach Dean Williams

For a fuller understanding of the Career Annulus see Thrive - How to Achieve and Sustain High-Level Career Success by Dean Williams and Mike Tinmouth (Grosvenor House Publishing), which is available now, priced £9.99 in paperback and £7.19 as an eBook, on

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Dean Williams.

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