You don’t smile enough. People don’t like you.
You smile too much. People don’t take you seriously.
You’re abrasive. For example, that time when you asked for a raise. It was awkward and you made the men on the senior leadership team uncomfortable.
You don’t speak up. We’d really like to see you take on more of a leadership role before we pay you for being a leader.
You’re sloppy. Like when you sent that email with a typo. You need to proofread your work.
You’re too focused on details. Leaders need to take the 50,000-foot fighter pilot view. No, I never served in the armed forces. What’s your point?
You’re not seasoned. Oh, wait, you’re 35? Well, you look young. Maybe if you were more mature, like if you were married or had kids (why don’t you have kids, by the way? We’re all a little curious), then we could envision you as being a leader in this organization.
Oh, you do have kids? Well, we’re concerned about your ability to balance everything, and you look really tired all the time, and I feel guilty asking you to stay late, so I just ask good old Tom, who’s a great guy and simple and easy to talk to.
You’re argumentative. For example, right now you’re upset that you didn’t get a promotion, and you’re asking for concrete examples of what you can do better. I really don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty. You should just trust my judgment.
You’re a pushover. When Tom came up and gave you that totally platonic hug in the shareholders’ meeting, you should have just told him not to touch you instead of telling me you thought it was inappropriate. Leaders handle their own problems.
You’re not a team player. If you’d just wait a few years, there will be some great opportunities here for you. We need you in your current role right now.
You aren’t good at promoting yourself. I mean, toot your own horn a little!
I’m not sexist, and this organization is not sexist, and I have to say you’re developing a little bit of a reputation as a troublemaker. Five years ago, we promoted a woman who happens to be black –- I mean, African-American… or maybe just African, I can’t remember –- and that proves that we are tolerant and committed to diversity.