More Than Meets the Eye


About 10% of an iceberg is visible above water, while the remainder is unseen.  Exposure in your career is similar to the significant part of the iceberg that remains submerged.

This is the last article in the P.I.E. series, and its focus is Exposure.

As Harvey Coleman (1996) shares in Empowering Yourself, The Organizational Game Revealed, Performance, Image and Exposure (P.I.E.) influence career development.  Each has a relative impact on career success:

  • Performance contributes 10%
  • Image or personal brand contributes 30%
  • Exposure, your immediate boss and the right others knowing what you do, contributes 60%

Conversations are Used to Build Mini-Profiles

Does this conversation sound familiar?

Tyler: “What do you do?”

Response: “I’m an operations manager.”

Tyler: “That’s interesting. Where do you work?”

Response: “I work at the ABC Make-Ready Enterprise location in the suburbs.”

Tyler: “Oh, your company was just on the news about a new product release.”

Response: “Yes.  A peer manager who is downtown spearheaded the product development, and my group will deliver service to the customers.”

Conversation Takeaways:

  • The individual asking questions develops a mini networking profile based upon the responses.
  • Acquired information becomes a part of a knowledge treasure chest.
  • There is a snapshot into perceived financial capability and influence.
  • Insight gleaned may impact the possibility of future interactions and business relationship building.

Intelligence collection that happens below the surface influences Exposure and career advancement. 

Hierarchy Plays a Role

Three income levels underscore the typical socioeconomic focus, lower, middle, and upper class.  Coleman shares an added perspective: seven levels of the organization’s hierarchy (the pyramid).

Coleman identifies the levels as follows (from top to bottom of the pyramid):

  • 7 – CEO and Board Members
  • 6 – Senior and General Management
  • 5 – Middle Management
  • 4 – Entry-level Management Exempt Salaried
  • 3 – Non-exempt Full-time
  • 2 – Non-exempt Part-time
  • 1 – Not Employed

Pyramid Location Signals

  • Job title
  • Communication styles and language, including expressions and diction
  • The region one lives in the country, such as northeast, southwest, or other
  • Home location and neighborhood (metropolitan, suburbs, or rural)
  • Entertainment preferences (cocktail party or family gatherings)
  • Leisure activities (polo, golf, or skiing)
  • Fine arts interests (ballet, opera, theater, or movie)
  • Automobile options (chauffeur, luxury, comfort, or utility)
  • Vacation tendencies (international travel, cruise, or staycation)

Navigating to a higher level in the organization’s pyramid requires sponsorship at the next level of desired career progression.

Performance is non-negotiable, and Image begins building your personal brand. Exposure requires managing all aspects of life.

A Starting Point

  • Assess where you are on the pyramid.
  • Determine what you will do differently to contribute to your branding.
  • Embrace behaviors that attract sponsorship at the next level you want to achieve in the pyramid.

There is more than meets the eye in career advancement.  It is up to you to show up, step out and fully engage to usher your career into your desired reality!


Coleman, H. J. (1996). Empowering Yourself: The Organizational Game Revealed.  Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company.

Lillian Davenport, SPHR, SHRM – SCP, CTACC, Principal, End View Solutions, LLC

Lillian Davenport

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Lillian Davenport is a coach, consultant, and leadership strategist. Her signature program, M3 LeadershipSM, prepares you to enhance and develop your self-awareness, embrace your inner strength, and lead with confidence, courage, and impact.

Lillian’s career as a human resources leader includes roles at JPMorgan Chase & Co., Woodforest National Bank, and American International Group, Inc. (AIG), where she leveraged employee relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expertise in leadership development.