Tired businesswoman with telephonesMany of my clients and women I meet at my workshops are stuck in the trap of “doing” and this trap prevents them from advancing their careers. They are literally stuck.

Perhaps you too can identify with being caught in the trap of doing your job, doing favors and work for others, and being the “go to person” when someone needs something done. You become the “go to person” not only due to your willingness to take on the work, but also because you have the expertise to do the work well. Everyone relies on you to pick up the slack. They count on you to help.

On the one hand, it probably feels good to be the “go to person”. After all, people trust you and they know you will come through for them and do a great job. For a short time, perhaps you are flattered. But being a doer doesn’t help you build a reputation in the workplace as someone who has leadership potential.

I’ve seen this happen over and over again. People rely on you to do their work and, therefore, they can’t even think about promoting you. It would mean that they would have to step up themselves. You have consistently filled their needs. It is difficult to change people’s behavior and their perception of you.

Yes, it is challenging to change people’s behavior and you need to start with changing your own. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Suggest that someone else on the team becomes involved in the project. You will mentor them so they will be able to take over some of the workload.
  2. Suggest that there be a rotation within your team so that everyone gets a chance to work on special projects.
  3. Tell your boss that you have other priorities and deadlines and get his/her buy in.

How do you leverage your work so that you are perceived as having leadership potential?

Instead of strictly presenting the facts when you complete a project, put on your strategic thinking cap. How can you leverage the success metrics of this project across the business lines? How can the results of this work benefit the company in new innovative ways? Begin to think like a leader.

Focus on moving from a doer to a strategic thinker with a larger vision and always position yourself as someone who positively impacts business outcomes. Get yourself out of the “doer” trap or you will be stuck there for the remainder of your career.