10 reasons why not to accept that promotion

Before you accept a promotion, it's important to take a step back and reflect on the pros and cons. This week, John M. McKee shares 10 reasons why you may want to pass on a promotion opportunity.

As some readers of this blog may know, I'm a former executive and business guy. Over the course of that part of my career, I was responsible for the hiring, promoting, firing, and laying off of over 3,000 people.

Prior to establishing my coaching practice, Business Success Coach.net, I was involved in organizations of all sizes. I did start-ups and managed turnarounds. The last company I led was about $1.6B in revenue. With offices nationwide, our suppliers were worldwide.

I was recently interviewed by an organization that specializes in helping individuals with job searches. I thought the issues we discussed might be valuable to readers of this blog. I was asked:

"Are there situations when someone should turn down a promotion?"

The short answer: Absolutely!

Even if you're determined to become the youngest CEO or the best-known CTO in your industry, it may be the best thing to say, "Thanks, but No Thanks."

Here are 10 reasons why turning down a promotion might be the best thing for your career:

1. You know you're not ready for it. And, consequently, the odds are that you will likely fail. A single failure on the way up the ladder can derail even the strongest player. 2. It's a dead-end job or department. If the new role has no clear career path upside, then pass. Don't get talked in to the idea that your success will open up new horizons. You may end up trapped there. 3. Senior leadership lacks support for this role. All roles need the support of others to succeed, but some seem to exist for reasons that nobody can recall. Without senior advocates, you could find that you're suddenly in No Man's Land as you try to get the job or tasks done. 4. It's inconsistent with your natural style. Leaders are more likely to succeed when they can maintain a style that is congruent with their values and beliefs. Some leaders like confrontation, others can't handle it. As a coach, I'm often asked to help a poor performer to "get with the program" and do things she/he doesn't agree with. 5. Your intuition tells you not to. I think the best leaders and managers have a great sense of intuition. It's what makes them "certain" when others aren't clear. Even if the job looks great on paper, if your gut says "pass," then walk away. 6. You'd become like Sisyphus. You may have a track record of getting things done that others couldn't -- but at some point, knowing your own limits is the best play. 7. The job's a political hot potato. Some roles bring the baggage of history with them. And when you take that kind of a job, it can be very surprising (and depressing) how your old allies suddenly disappear. 8. It's inconsistent with your own values and beliefs. In many organizations there are jobs and activities that may not sit right with you. One of the corporate people I worked with was transferred from a consumer products division to one overseeing the creation of war materials. He didn't fare well. 9. It will negatively affect your personal life. Each of us is entitled to a life that's successful in each of the three life elements. If you are being offered a job that will screw with your personal life (the hours needed at the office) or financial situation (e.g., the job means moving to New York from Indianapolis), give it a hard review before accepting. 10. Never take a job for the money. You'll get used to the new salary quickly, but the crappy job is there for a long time.

Here's to your future!