Do You Use Self-Promotion as a Leadership Tool?

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This week I am speaking on the topic of tasteful self-promotion twice. I have to say that this is truly a timeless topic because most women (and some men) struggle with how to do it. I even have an entire module dedicated to it in my WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance ProgramSM.

Last month, as one of the faculty for the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s inaugural Women’s Initiative Fellowship Program, I had a chance to teach fourteen women from Egypt how to do this. Although they debated with me about whether self-promotion was something they could do in a way that fit with their culture and was aligned with their personal styles and values, the women successfully developed and implemented strategies that worked for them during their four weeks in the United States. So, I’m here to tell you, if fourteen women from Egypt can do it; so can you!

Here’s a quick self-assessment you can take to help you determine where you might have some opportunities to be more effective. Rate yourself on the following eight statements using the scale below:

1 = Not at all, 2 = Very little, 3 = Neutral, 4 = To a moderate extent, 5 = To a great extent

1. I view self-promotion in a positive light

2. I am comfortable self-promoting

3. I know who needs to know about my accomplishments and results

4. The “right” people know how I add value

5. I notice and track my accomplishments

6. I am armed with quick stories I can tell

7. I have a 30-60 second elevator speech

8. I spend at least five minutes/week to toot my own horn

As you can see from the statements above, it all starts with your mindset. Most people view tooting their own horns as bragging, self-centered, or just plain obnoxious. And I would agree that the most memorable examples of self-promotion tend to be negative. However, there are many people who do use self-promotion as an effective tool to demonstrate their leadership.

Rather than taking a negative view, I urge you to reframe self-promotion as a valuable way to inform others and to help them learn from what you have accomplished. When you view it this way, it becomes less about you and more about providing something relevant and useful to others.

Next, think about how you want to “show up” in a conversation where you do tell others about your accomplishments and results. How do you want to be viewed? What is important to you? Answering these questions will help you frame up your achievements in a way that works for you and choose the right words – which will make it much easier for you to tastefully self-promote.

Finally, take a look at your responses to the assessment above. What did you notice, and what action do you want to take? You could start by clarifying what stops you from self-promoting, identifying who needs to know about your accomplishments, or simply jotting down examples of your achievements and results. I challenge you to identify one small step to get the ball rolling this week. You know I’m a firm believer that small steps can lead to big results.

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