I've seen people whose careers were harmed because:
- They made their work seem easy. It wasn't until their successors arrived that people began to appreciate how good they were.
- They were upbeat and positive. Some executives believe that only the somber and pessimistic can be serious people. Humor is especially suspect.
- They spoke and wrote clearly. That obviously meant they were shallow.
- They didn't tout their achievements. People who spend large portions of their work weeks embellishing their achievements cannot understand modesty. They equate it with inferiority.
- They cultivated ties within their specialty but not with many beyond their professional circles. Unfortunately, the oral boards may have only token representation of people who know the subject area. Often there is no oral board at all.
- They did not fit in with the preferred personality type. This can be a real challenge because it requires that the individual know how to make others comfortable. That ability may not lessen the advantage of a less-qualified competitor whose very being signals that he or she is "one of them."