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Navigating the Workplace: Strategies for Advancing Your Career

In today's fast-paced and competitive job market, it's no secret that hard work alone isn't enough to get ahead. In her article, "How to Showcase Your Potential as a Leader," Tutti Taygerly highlights three key strategies that can help individuals advance their careers and reach their full potential. These strategies include moving from performance currency to relationship currency, setting boundaries around low-value work, and advocating for more of the work you want.

Today we will take a closer look at each of these strategies and provide examples of how they can be applied in real-life scenarios.

Move from Performance Currency to Relationship Currency

In technical fields, workers are often initially assessed based on their performance currency, or how well they deliver on assigned tasks. However, to advance in your career, it's important to move beyond just delivering results and start investing in the people around you. This is where relationship currency comes in. Relationship currency involves building strong connections with your colleagues, leaders, and other professionals in your industry.

One way to start building relationship currency is to ask a colleague to join you for a virtual coffee or invite a leader you admire out to lunch. These informal meetings can help you build a connection with your colleagues and leaders, and allow you to learn more about their interests, goals, and challenges. By showing genuine interest in others, you can establish a foundation for a strong professional relationship.

Another way to build relationship currency is to offer to help others with their work. For example, if a colleague is struggling with a project, offer to lend a hand or provide guidance. By doing so, you not only build a stronger connection with your colleague, but you also demonstrate your expertise and willingness to help others.

Set Boundaries Around Low-Value Work

Women, newbies, and people of color often find themselves assigned office housekeeping tasks, such as taking meeting notes or organizing social activities. While these tasks may seem harmless, they can actually drain your energy and prevent you from focusing on high-value work that will help you advance in your career.

To avoid getting trapped in this vicious cycle, it's important to set boundaries around low-value work. This means politely declining requests that don't align with your strengths or long-term goals. Instead, focus on high-value work that will help you build your skills and expertise.

For example, if your boss asks you to take meeting notes, you could respond by saying, "I understand the importance of having detailed notes, but I'm currently working on a high-priority project that requires my full attention. Would it be possible for someone else to take the notes this time?" By setting boundaries in a respectful and professional manner, you can avoid getting bogged down in low-value work and focus on high-value tasks that will help you advance in your career.

Advocate for More of the Work You Want

Learning how to respectfully promote your work and the value you're contributing is essential to your growth. To do this, build strong relationships with your boss and advocate for others. By doing so, you can increase your visibility and showcase your expertise to the right people.

One way to advocate for more of the work you want is to proactively seek out opportunities to work on high-profile projects. For example, you could approach your boss and say, "I've been following the progress of the new marketing campaign, and I believe I could contribute my skills and expertise to help make it a success. Would it be possible for me to join the project team?" By taking the initiative and promoting your skills, you can increase your chances of getting assigned to high-value projects that will help you advance in your career.

Another way to advocate for yourself is to highlight your achievements and the value you're bringing to the organization. For example, you could send a weekly email to your boss summarizing your accomplishments and how they're impacting the business. By doing so, you'll keep your boss informed of your progress and reinforce your value to the organization.


Advancing your career requires more than just hard work and delivering results. By moving from performance currency to relationship currency, setting boundaries around low-value work, and advocating for more of the work you want, you can increase your visibility, build strong relationships, and showcase your expertise to the right people. It's not enough to simply do good work, you need to be able to connect with others, build trust, and demonstrate your value to the organization. By doing so, you'll be well on your way to achieving your career goals and making a meaningful impact in your field. Remember, it's not just about working hard, it's about working smart and building meaningful connections that will help you succeed.


Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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