Have your fingers in the P.I.E. – Part 1

Three dimensions to manage your career in an organisation

Recently the question how to best manage one’s career has surfaced several times in my coaching engagements.

These clients held firm beliefs that their performance would speak for themselves and foster their career. In addition, they thought that their respective bosses would take care getting them promoted. However, over the years they realised that these beliefs were mostly not true: they got nowhere and were surpassed by their peers and now they felt stuck.

I would like to share with you how all of these clients have used the P.I.E. model to manage their career in the way they wanted to happen.

So what is this P.I.E. model all about?

Harvey Coleman in his book Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed describes that one’s career success is based on the 3 key elements of Performance, Image and Exposure (P.I.E.):

  • Performance: a ‘conditio sine qua non’ for a career!  This is about the quality of the results you deliver and how you achieve such results.
  • Image: What do other people think of you? What do you stand for, what is your personal branding? How do you come across when you are seen in ‘public’ or observed by decision-makers/stakeholders/senior managers.
  • Exposure: Who knows about you and what you do? Does your boss or other influential people in the organisation know what you do? Do others inside and outside your organization know anything about you?

In this part 1 of my blog I will briefly dive into the aspect of performance. Then I will focus on how my clients worked on the aspect of image and personal branding. In part 2 (next week) I will elaborate further what my clients found most effective to control/manage their exposure in and outside of their organisation.

Let’s talk about Performance

When I was working on the subject of career management all my clients believed that delivering top performance in their job will guarantee their career progress. As Coleman found out, performance is not the only aspect. His original research showed that performance contributes only at the level of 10% to a successful career. I personally have some doubts that it would be that low. Conversations I had about this in various client companies suggest a higher percentage than 10%.  It may vary depending in what function your are working in; supply chain, marketing or R&D for example may have different emphasis on the performance versus the other two aspects. However, I do agree with the principle message: it is certainly not as high as some believe and it clearly isn’t all it takes.

For me performance has several aspects. First and foremost you deliver what you committed to deliver. Looking beyond your own boundaries, making connections and contributions beyond your own tasks is another element. In addition, going the famous “extra mile”, meaning exceeding expectations, rounds off the aspect of high-performance.

But then, as stated above, your image plays a critical part in your progress.

Let’s have a look into the meaning of Image in this context

In his research Coleman assigns 30% to the image of the person and their career success. As described above it’s about what other people think of you and your personal branding. One of my clients brought up the idea of developing his own brand key in order to create the image that he would like to have in the organisation in order to progress in his career.

He used the following reduced version of a brand key marketing colleagues are used to work with for their brands. To read more about the full brand key check here

As a start, he reflected on what his true essence as a business professional was and described this in the most concise way placing it in the centre.

Subsequently, he reflected on his values and personality and how they contribute to his essence.

Next, he talked with a few people in the organisation about his essence and explored what reasons people would have to believe in his essence.

He then looked into what benefits his essence as a professional brings to the organisation.

Lastly, he reflected on how his essence differentiates him from his peers.

I consider this a very neat way to work on one’s image and be very clear how one wants to be seen in an organisation as a highly professional contributor.


The clients who worked with this approach not only enjoyed the reflective time but also the value it added to their thinking and awareness on how they want to be seen and who they really want to be in the organisation.

In part 2, next week, I will look more closely into the third element, Exposure, to which Coleman from his research attributes 60% contribution to a successful career.

Please come back for more next week.

And if you are already interested enough to discuss this in more detail then

request free-consultation











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