When you look at who to promote, it shouldn’t be the person with the highest performance numbers, the biggest team, or the most seniority–it should be the person who works the most. I’m talking about the person pounding Red Bulls, eating breakfast, lunch and dinner out of a cardboard box while they stay glued to their computer, sleeping under their desk, and keeping a change of clothes in the restroom so they can look presentable when the day starts. That’s who gets promoted!

It’s not enough for employees to just work 40 hours and expect to be promoted. They have to put in extra hours and work more than anyone else to show they are dedicated to the organization. Work is like a relationship, do you want someone loyal to you and with some of the time or all of the time?

Overworking shows what employees are capable of. You don’t have to guess the kind of person you are promoting! They’ve put in more hours of work than anyone else.

Scientists back me up on this–overworking allows employees to prove their value to their company. “If a worker’s talents are (at least partially) uncertain, then every project, every presentation, every meeting is an opportunity to learn and showcase her talents.”

Employees who overwork make their jobs their top priority–as they should. They don’t get distracted by things in their personal life or other commitments. They are all-in on your company and put in the time. Those are the people you should be rewarded, not people who are nice to work with.

To you as the leader, overworking shows an employee is devoted to the company and their job. They put their job ahead of everything else, including their personal life and relationships, so you know they will do a great job and stick around. People who overwork won’t ignore your late-night phone calls or weekend emails. They will probably already be at work, ready to go. That means you won’t have to wait for things to move forward.

There’s no room for people in higher positions who aren’t completely dedicated to their jobs. They have to show you they are willing to put in the time. Don’t promote slackers or people who can get their tasks done quickly. Promote people who work themselves to the bone to get things done.

Plus, overworkers will demand their employees overwork too. That means if you promote the person who works themselves to the bone, you get more bang for your buck by getting existing teams to do the work of larger teams without having to pay more people. Why promote a slacker who needs a team of 10 people when you can promote someone who overworks and gets the same work done with a team of 5 people? It’s cost-savings for you and efficient when employees work more. I’m not a math professor but this to me seems like a good deal.

If an employee wants to get promoted, they know what they need to do. They have to put in the hours and work more! Elon Musk agrees with me, he has his employees working way past 1:30 to get things done like he should. Cheers to you Elon!



As a leader, one of your most important tasks is promoting the right people. It can make or break the future of your company.

Don’t promote the people who have been there the longest or who are the nicest to work with–when it comes to promotions, the people who overwork should be the ones who get better jobs!

-The Outdated Leader


Over the last 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking and working with some of the world’s top leaders. Here are 15 of the best leadership lessons that I learned from the CEOs of organizations like Netflix, Honeywell, Volvo, Best Buy, The Home Depot, and others. I hope they inspire you and give you things you can try in your work and life. Get the PDF here.