Finding the Balance in Self-Promotion

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017 in Featured, Individuals, Miscellaneous, Organizations, Women | 0 comments

Balance in self-promotion


It’s been said that if you’re indispensable, then you can’t get promoted. While there’s some truth to that, promoting yourself too much can also backfire. You have to find a balance. It must be handled in the right way.

No one likes someone who is in love with him- / herself. Psychologists call that narcissism. We all have something of a bent in this direction, but some people stand out as being more inclined in this way than others. Those who are like this don’t get promoted because they lack the diplomatic skills that are needed with additional responsibility. If you’re only ever looking out for yourself, then there’s no interest, time, or energy left for anyone else. And the funny thing is that this is all too apparent to those who could promote you.

On the flip side, there are those who take things to the other extreme. Their level of humility is such that they become occupational chameleons who blend into whatever background they happen to be in. They don’t want to stand out or be recognized as different from their peers. The thing is that, like those who promote themselves too much, they don’t advance either. That’s because no one knows they’re there.

If you want to get ahead in your organization, then you have to find a balance between promoting yourself too much and not at all; and the extent to which you lean one way or the other will be different for you than it will be for everyone you know.

Some people can “get away” with more than others; that is, some “wear” self-promotion better than their peers. They are able to do it with panache. Like anything else, however, you have to play to your strengths. There’s an old saying that, “If you’ve got it, then flaunt it; if you don’t, then flaunt it anyway.” But you can ruin your chances of promotion if you brandish your qualities and accomplishments, but lack the finesse to pull it off.

So how can you find this balance?

There are several things that you can do. Pick the ones that you can do well – better than anyone else, in fact, and ignore those where you won’t shine

1. Keep your boss in the loop.

Make sure that he / she knows what you’re working on and the progress you’ve made. It’s probably worth keeping a record as well if only because time passes quickly, and you will want to know if you’re accomplishing as much as you feel like you are.

2. Increase your productivity

If you find that you routinely don’t have enough to do, then ask your boss for more responsibility or more projects. If you know that there are none available, then exercise some initiative. Think seriously about what you could do to create more value for the organization. Maybe you could get an MBA, or learn a programming language, or design an improvement for the business, or undertake to transform a process. The main thing is that you can’t wait to be told. You have to figure it out. Then if anyone asks you, you’ll be able to explain what you’re doing and why.

3. Demonstrate your expertise

There’s more to proving you’re an expert than asking the odd question or making a wise statement in the occasional meeting. You want to strive to be the “go to” person in your area of expertise.

It’s also worth developing a wider field of know-how. For example, you could become the most knowledgeable person in your immediate office when it comes to the software that your organization uses. Then, instead of people having to call the IT folks to fix a problem, you could. This is not beyond the realm of possibility. Many people don’t know how to undo inadvertent keystrokes that suddenly create a catastrophe in their document.

4. Think strategically

You may think that you do this already; and maybe you do. But the thing is that in order to be promoted you have to demonstrate that you’re already thinking at that level. And so that means that your strategic thinking has to be above what is required for your current job

One way to do this would be to look at what your boss does and then try to find ways to improve what he / she does; not so that you can offer advice, but so that you can practice doing it yourself by incorporating it into the work that you do already.

5. Manage more effectively

If you have no subordinates, then this may mean that you manage only yourself. What beyond your expertise could you improve that would make you look more promotable? Would weight loss or fitness help? If so, then quietly undertake the discipline to deal with this.

If you do have subordinates, then undertake to develop them as much as you can. Help them to be as successful as they possibly can be. It’s been said that if you help enough other people get what they want, then you can have what you want. Although that is normally considered in the context of sales, it’s also true when it comes to the management of others. If you help them to get ready for greater responsibility, it will prove that you have what it takes to move up to the next level yourself.


The balance in self-promotion lies in doing rather than in talking. If you can get results without bragging about it and without trampling over others, then when the time comes, you’ll get the promotion that you seek.


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