Are you doing excellent work and delivering results in your job but not getting the recognition or opportunities you deserve?

Maybe it’s a result of the “silver ceiling” – the demographic challenge of retirement-aged Baby Boomers staying in their roles longer than past generations, creating a logjam of talent behind them. It’s certainly plausible, and a challenge that many Gen X- and Millennial-aged workers have been navigating most of their careers.

Consider, for a moment, that the roadblock isn’t a demographic reality outside of your control, but a panda that is firmly in your grasp.

A panda?

The panda metaphor evolved from the work of a couple of researchers who studied how people got to the C-suite, and as importantly, what derailed the executive careers of those who didn’t make it. They found that those who missed out on executive opportunities had “pandas”– something that looks innocent but can be powerful and dangerous. 93% of pandas fit into one of three types of issues: executive presence, communication, or peer-level relationships.

At Solutions 21, we have been researching World-Class Performers for decades and have found that few who join the executive ranks get there with a fatal flaw. Instead, they have small, nearly imperceptible issues that might be derailing their success. 

While there are nine behaviors of World-Class Performers, there are three that are used to overcome panda issues:

  • Performance feedback– Most pandas are behaviors or tendencies tend to either be invisible to you or have been brought to your attention in a way that indicates that they are low-priority. In other instances, pandas are uncomfortable to address and therefore are allowed to continue. Without performance feedback, it’s almost impossible to know if you have a panda to address.
  • Turn unconscious tendencies into positive choices– Overcoming a panda is a choice. While being aware certainly helps, making an activeeffort to change the behavior is what will help you overcome the panda. 
  • Positive change is often counterintuitive– For many who struggle with pandas, the issues are seemingly not worth the effort to change. If you’re comfortable with where you are today, the pandas might be minor issues that others tolerate because of your talent in other areas. If you want to advance and grow, you’re likely going to have to confront some of your more challenging tendencies, even if you’re getting the results you want right now.

Relatedly, we strongly recommend keeping two other World-Class Performer behaviors in mind: 

  • Managing your energy – Eliminating pandas can be exhausting, and you need to have the energyto improve.
  • Seeking coaching – It’s a whole lot easier to adjust when you have a coach who is working with you to fast-forward your progress.

Don’t let the cute and cuddly look of pandas lull you into a false sense of security. They’re dangerous, can derail your career, and need to be addressed.