Climbing the professional ladder is a natural aspiration for many people, yet finding yourself in a position where you are overlooked for promotion despite being invaluable in a current role and having all the experience and expertise necessary to rise within the organisation can be bewildering.

The paradox arises when you become so indispensable in your current position that the prospect of promoting you seems daunting for the organisation.

Though seemingly counterintuitive, this scenario often stems from various underlying factors hindering your progression.

Understanding these reasons and proactively navigating them can be critical in charting a path towards your career advancement.

To watch the extended version of this article, click here.

Why We Become Indispensable

There are numerous reasons why people don’t get promoted, even though they have the skills, experience and general where-with-all, but these are the most common ones that I see:

Unique Skill Set Dependency:

Your current role might heavily rely on a set of skills or expertise that are difficult to replace or replicate – IT skills are one that quickly jumps to mind.

While this makes you invaluable in your current capacity, it might also deter your organisation from moving you into a different role where your skills are equally essential.

Lack of Succession Planning:

In some cases, organisations might not have adequate succession plans in place or individuals groomed to fill your shoes seamlessly.

This is incredibly common. Surprisingly, few companies have a robust succession plan. This gap in readiness might deter decision-makers from considering your advancement.

Lack of Awareness Regarding Your History:

This often creeps up in my 1:2:1 coaching sessions with clients. They have a significant CV, yet they’re judged on what they’re doing right now.

This is typical when a new manager takes over a team and doesn’t take the time to get to know their subordinates or when they weren’t part of your interview process.

Unfortunately, many managers ‘assume’ that they know what you’re capable of without you having the opportunity to showcase your skills and abilities outside of your current tasks.


Given the topics I cover on social media and YouTube, it would be remiss not to mention this, as it’s a very real experience for some people.

Bullying or narcissistic bosses may deliberately block your promotion as a further way to invalidate you, put you down and generally make your life even more of a misery than it already is.

Strategies to Overcome the Indispensable Stagnation

Expand Your Skill Set:

Proactively seek opportunities to acquire new skills or expertise that align with your career goals and the organisation’s needs. This diversification not only enhances your value but also mitigates the fear of leaving a critical gap in your potential promotion.

Delegate and Mentor:

If you’re already a manager or team leader, cultivate a culture of delegation and mentorship within your team. Empower colleagues by gradually entrusting them with responsibilities, enabling a smoother transition should you progress to a higher role.

Communicate Your Aspirations:

Have candid discussions with your superiors about your career aspirations. Express your interest in growth opportunities within the organisation while assuring them of your commitment to ensure a seamless transition.

Highlight Impact, Not Just Performance:

Shift the focus from merely excelling in your current role to showcasing the broader impact of your contributions.

Highlight how your expertise can be beneficial in a higher position and how you can continue adding value to the organisation.

Seek Feedback and Development:

Embrace feedback graciously and work on areas that might be perceived as barriers to your promotion.

Invest in continuous learning and development to broaden your skill set and readiness for higher responsibilities.

Get Over Your Imposter Syndrome:

In a previous video, I went into detail about what imposter syndrome is and how to overcome it.  

In essence, imposter syndrome is where we’ve achieved or want to work towards something significant, yet we feel like a fraud, believing we don’t truly deserve it.

It’s a form of self-sabotage that pretty much everyone experiences whenever we embark on a new endeavour, especially a new job role. I highly recommend watching that if you’re stopping yourself from applying for a promotion or a new job but are consumed with self-doubt.

Knowing When to Leave

If you’ve tried everything I’ve mentioned and you’re still not getting promoted, then it’s probably time to take your skills, expertise and general wonderfulness somewhere else. Despite what you might imagine, there are so many jobs out there. You just need to know where to look.

If the thought of updating your CV, finding and applying for jobs, not to mention having to go through interviews, fills you with horror, I have an online course that takes you step by step through all of those things and more. Click here for more information.

Don’t let those things put you off or use them as an excuse not to find and land Your Dream Job.

The Wrap-Up

Being too valuable in your current role to be promoted can be a bewildering situation, but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle.

By understanding the dynamics at play, actively shaping your skill set, fostering a supportive environment within your team, and communicating your aspirations effectively, you can navigate this situation effectively.

Embrace the opportunity to grow, evolve, and contribute in many different ways while strategically positioning yourself for the next step in your career journey.

Remember, it’s not just about being indispensable; it’s about becoming an indispensable asset adaptable to the organisation’s evolving needs while carving a path toward your professional aspirations.

Finally, it’s up to you to manage your career, NOT YOUR BOSS, ORGANISATION OR ANYONE ELSE!

Control what you can control.

Don’t wait for others to tell you what’s right for you. This is your life and your responsibility. TAKE CONTROL and do something about it TODAY!

Strike while the iron’s hot.

What Next

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Finally, as always, thank you for your continued support.

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