What if everything you thought you knew about social dynamics in the workplace was wrong? What if putting your best foot forward was your first misstep? What if the first person that your boss disqualifies from the promotion roster is the employee that bends over backwards to serve? In a leader-first, servant-last culture, bosses, encumbered by a clouding power drive, will perceive overt demonstrations of ability by charges as confirmatory of their own value as leaders; they will feel pursued, as by an overeager suitor — a suitor, by implication, of lesser value. As in courtship, there is a penalty for guileless pursuit: no reward.
If you have been passed over for a promotion, this may be why. This is not the point (in a leader-first organization) at which the employee should redouble his efforts at recognition, but the point at which efforts should be throttled down. The ambitious employee must cultivate self-restraint; he must learn to pace himself and care less, lest his penchant for service at any personal cost backfire.