Have you ever felt that no matter how well you do at work, you never seem to get the rewards?

It's a frustrating experience, and perhaps even more so for women than for men. (Research shows that whereas men only have to show potential, women are only promoted on their performance). Either way, it's critical for you to have proven accomplishments if you want your talent to be recognized.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that your performance will speak for itself. Corporate life is more complex than that. But, you can make great strides by understanding the advantages of exceptional performance. Throughout the ups and downs of a career, it may be the best thing you can do for yourself.

You may be thinking as you're reading this that you've been focused on your performance all along, which is excellent. But leaders lose sight of this critical element of their success. There are several reasons:

1. It may seem strange, but it's possible to miss the importance of performance.

Performance measures may not be clear in your organization, or maybe you're the one who's not entirely clear on those measures.

2. You can become focused on the wrong thing - the next job, office politics, or the fire drill of the moment, instead of your results.

If you're not tracking your progress, it could be that no one else is, either.

3. You can neglect to track changes in your performance measures over time.

Your performance measures change as your jobs change throughout your career. Be sure you're staying current.

4. One final, and potentially disastrous mistake is forgetting to identify, communicate, and improve your results.

You don't have to overdo it, but you do have own your performance. No one else will do it for you.

You can avoid these pitfalls by getting clear on the performance measures that matter in your role - tracking the changes in those measures as their careers progress - and continuing to prioritize your results. Ask yourself: What are the performance measures on which you're judged? Does your manager agree, and how do you know? Do you have concrete examples of results you've delivered and their importance to the organization? How will you measure your own results, and how will you communicate those results?

Remember, when it comes to your own performance, you are your own best advocate. You secure your performance by getting clear on the metrics that matter in your role - tracking the changes in those measures as your career progresses - and continuing to track your results.