Self Promotion is a Leadership Competency – Striking the right tone

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Effective self-promotion, is essential for success, yet one of the main hurdles for women in business to overcome.

Most women have grown up with the idea that hard work will get them noticed. When in fact it is the strategic, effective, and explicit promotion of their achievements and their potential what gets women’s hard work noticed. The key, of course, is that all of it must be presented in an appropriate manner and context.

Unfortunately, this misconception around self-promotion is pervasive throughout all levels of an organization. A study on senior executive women conducted by Women of Influence suggests that the same challenges faced by many women in middle management still surface among women in senior management roles. The well-known secret for the sustainability of a successful career (regardless of gender or level in the organization,) however, is in fact ongoing self-promotion paired with political shrewdness.

Self promotion inspirational quote by Lily Benjamin - Communicating your accomplishments and value proposition doesn't only benefit you; it also benefits your team, peers and the organization

Understanding the real definition of self-promotion enables you to take full advantage of its power for career growth.

Redefining self-promotion

So it’s time to redefine self-promotion in order to really understand what it entails and learn how to do it gracefully, strategically, and effectively.

First, self-promotion is a leadership competency

The competency of self-promotion encompasses acting with intent, being assertive, and negotiating along the way. These are all fundamental leadership skills to influence vital stakeholders and gain access to networks in order to advance shared business goals.

Second, it’s not just about you

Communicating your accomplishments and value proposition doesn’t only benefit you; it also benefits your team, peers, and the organization. Any leader without this competency cannot actively engage others when promoting and selling her/his vision. The impact of a team is a clear indication of its leader’s abilities. Hence, when a leader promotes the accomplishment of their team, they are not only motivating their people but they are also indirectly promoting their own leadership capabilities.

Get over fear of speaking in public so you can effectively use self-promotion anywhere.

The challenge of self-promotion for women

Charlotte du Val d'Ognes by Marie Denise Villers from the MetMuseum Collection

Women were not raised to self-promote. We need to change that! Painting: Charlotte du Val d’Ognes by Marie Denise Villers from the MetMuseum Collection-

The concept of self-promotion is particularly taxing for women because they are not only challenged with the genetic predisposition to ‘tend or befriend’ that results in them putting others before themselves, but also with social norms of humility and modesty. This is very different from what men experience. Their genetic predisposition drives them to ‘fight or flight’, which generally means they put themselves before others, while social norms encourage their bragging rights. These are some of the main reasons why men are not only inclined to self-promote but when they do, they are perceived as competent and impressive. Whereas when women do the same they are perceived negatively as showoffs.

Being gender intelligent is essential to break through this inevitable genetic and social conundrum, as self-promotion is critical for a successful career path and for greater impact on business results.

Though we can’t change genetic predispositions, through awareness and behavior modification we can address social norms to successfully display a sense of self-worth, confidence, and competence.

Learning about being more assertive can help you master self-promotion.

Myths

Generally speaking, women admit that often the greatest barriers to effectively self-promote are themselves. But it’s also true that a lot of the social norms and myths reinforce these obstacles. So, let’s debunk several of those myths about self-promotion.

Myths about self-promotion
Myth Rationalization Fact
The Bitch “Self promotion will make me look arrogant.” Self-promotion done well is essential to a successful career. It gives the opportunity for others to learn and benefit from your contributions.
The Princess “If I’m good enough, people will hear about it.” (The princess waits for her knight…) Women need to take action to promote their contributions, rather than wait for the recognition to come to them. People are too busy to notice the contributions of others. No one can advocate better for your attributes than you can.
The Friends and Family ”Others (people who know me) should talk about my accomplishments, not me.” Relying on word of mouth alone, without influencing the key messages can be counter productive.   Effectively owning and promoting your personal brand and value to others, pays off big dividends.
The Martyr “You can’t control what people think anyway.” Women can influence what others think of them, by believing in themselves and displaying confidence through the quality of your work. The impact they have on other people, their teams, and organizations will strengthen your personal brand.
Self Promotion quote by Lily Benjamin

Achieving the competency of self-promotion is key to your career success

Your take away on self-promotion…

Self-promotion is an essential leadership skill. Learn how to believe on your strengths and attributes, while observing the impact you have on others and on business results. Then, share the value you and others add. Strengthen this leadership skill to further strengthen your confidence and reputation, while enjoying your continued success!

Look out for my upcoming post on successful self-promotion strategies!

Do Your Actions Support Your Personal Brand?
5 Tips for Dealing with Emotional Outbursts at Work
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Lily Benjamin

A Global Talent, Organization Development and Change Management Executive by trade. Innately, a conceptual architect because of my commitment to build people and organizations.

2 replies
  1. Isaura Martinez
    Isaura Martinez says:

    Great article!! In general, we, as Latin American, deal with issues related to what we deserve and should ask for. This is especially true to women. Actually, I recently launched a free Ebook about how to communicate powerfully as an employee or business owner, and I saw the 60-70% of downloads came from men… As women, we have a lot to learn, so it’s great to see more and more content like this to help us break our barriers to reach our goals.

    Reply

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