When brass bands won’t work for you


Many leaders don’t like promoting themselves, even as they are encouraged (or required) to do so in order to make a bigger difference in their organizations. Does the idea of self-promotion leave you with a sinking feeling? The alternative is to hide and risk your ability to have greater influence. If you remain in your shell without stepping out, you’ll continue to hold tight to the magic you have within you that isn’t being used to its full potential.

I understand. It’s uncomfortable to “brag” about your accomplishments. But bragging isn’t what we’re talking about here. As long as the idea of promoting yourself has a negative meaning to you, you won’t make the impact you want to make. At some point you may realize that you can do more to make a difference, and you are the best representative you know to lead the way. It’s at that point that you can begin to think about what self-promotion looks like for you.

Leaders who promote themselves in authentic-from-the-heart ways must be visible, which puts them in the best position make a difference. You can’t do that while you hide from the world. There are ways to promote yourself so that you can influence others in a way that is real to who you are (without bragging) by:

Doing some tough personal work. Leaders who know who they are, the personal values that are important to them, and how their authentic character expresses these things in the world are the ones who will be successful at promoting themselves. This requires some personal observations, some quiet thinking and for some, discussions with a therapist, friend, coach, or a journal. Discovering how your true self shows up in the world and when your false self takes over (so you can override it for healthier behaviors) is important. 

Being quiet about it. Many of the leaders I know who are reluctant self-promoters have a vision of the loud publicists who are continually hyping themselves. At some point, those brazen tactics can backfire when an ego-driven leader’s grandiose personal stories feel disconnected from the person they really are. When you quietly go about connecting your actions with your values, people will sit up and take notice. It’s often the quiet ones who are spare in their words but generous in their actions that make the biggest impact as leaders. 

Staying true to yourself. You’ll find times when you’re tempted to pretend to be something you aren’t. You may make mistakes and hurt others when you allow that to happen. Learning from those times can be hard, and as you come back to your true self, the temptation will be resisted the next time it entices you. Be wary, observe yourself in real time, and reflect on your actions and you’ll have a good chance of remaining true to your beliefs.

Self-promotion doesn’t have to entail a brass band and boisterous bragging. Quiet knowing about what matters to you and consistently acting on your values will go far in influencing others and making a difference.



I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.