Look around you in the office. How many people can you see who just stand out as a future partner? Let me guess they are not the people who you would necessarily call ‘a safe pair of hands’? Being seen as a “safe pair of hands” is a bit of a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you know that the firm values what you do and they know you can be trusted. On the other hand, you have to be careful that being a “safe pair of hands” means that you are overlooked for promotion because you’re not seen as go-getting or dynamic enough. The question is how to change your reputation at work, so you are no longer seen as a “safe pair of hands“?
How to change your reputation at work
There is a great book by Lois P Frankel called “nice girls don’t get the corner office“. It’s all about the unconscious mistakes women make that sabotage their career. Being seen as a “safe pair of hands” is one of those mistakes. But make no mistake, it’s a pretty gender neutral mistake.
This is how you often get into the position of being seen as highly valued, a great number 2 to your partner, a safe pair of hands… but not the next partner. You prioritise client work above everything else. But not only that, you let your career go onto the back seat whilst you focus on being the best number 2 your partner could wish for. After all, shouldn’t the results of your work speak for themselves? (Sadly not…) And before you know it, other people around you (who may even be junior or weaker technically than you) are getting their career accelerated ahead of yours. Even though you have always been that loyal servant to the partners in your practice.
It sounds really unfair doesn’t it? And yes, it is, but it’s also a hard fact of life in professional services. I’ve met many talented, dedicated and loyal professionals who deserve to be made up to partner, but have been blocked as they have been pigeon-holed as a “safe pair of hands”. So much so I did a Facebook Live on the very topic, “How to change your firm’s perception of you as a safe pair of hands” Here is a snippet from the Facebook Live:
To see the whole recording, along with 30 other career-enhancing videos, join Progress to Partner for just $1 for a 7-day trial. You’ll also get access to my self-study courses including How to Truly Commit to Moving Your Career Forward, The Go-To Expert, Creating a cast-iron business case and over 15 years of training and resources supporting people’s career progression in practice bundled into a single location.