I’m really fed up with hearing how good you are…
The other day a very delightful client came for tea in the garden, as one does these days, in times of social distancing. Our client was explaining how Covid had destroyed some of her confidence and asking what she should do about it. It was a very positive conversation as we discussed her strengths and the need to find her voice, both internally and externally. Some of you will have read the book ‘Quiet’, which talks about how the world has a positive view of extroverts and a less positive view of introverts and how wrong this can be, not to mention the definition one gives to introversion and extroversion.
The problem for the quieter individuals is that we are also all familiar with colleagues who are known to be brags. There is nothing worse than somebody who continually self-promotes and it is interesting to wonder why this may be. We must be careful in organisations, too, that vibrancy is not equated with brilliant leadership, as those who make a lot of noise are not always the best leaders. Quiet but tough, decisive, consultative leadership can often be better than the big picture, colourful self-promoter.
There are definitely gender differences and it is a well-known fact that some men will look at a job specification and think ‘well, I’ve got 70 % of that so I’ll apply” and women – not universally but often – will look at a job specification and think ‘there is 30% of the role that I cannot do so I won’t apply’. I remember years ago, the then Principal of Somerville College, Oxford saying to me that the women didn’t get the top jobs because they didn’t apply for them.
Whatever gender we are, there is a time and a place for promoting oneself and it’s important to take advantage of it, because if you don’t, someone else will. Do you really want to see a person whom, in application terms you regard as a less-good ‘fit’ than you, go after a job and get the role that you really wanted and to which you would contribute amazingly well? Time took over; fear of failure reared its head, or you just didn’t know where to start.
There are appropriate moments to sell one’s wares and inappropriate ones. We don’t want to be known as a pompous ‘bighead’ but the only person to ‘sell’ your skills, knowledge and professional traits is you. Certainly with the various social media, your web presence is going to be very important, as are the pathways that drive people to your website, so there are several important places (not to brag), but to lay out what you have on offer in terms of professional skills and what sort of person you are, so that somebody reading about you knows you just a little bit better for having read both your technical and non-technical assets. Likewise, your email signature reveals a lot about you; you may take it for granted, but it is very visible nonetheless.
The downside, of course, is that everything on your digital footprint is viewable, so you need to be sure that your Facebook and LinkedIn reality do tie up, otherwise the gaps and the small distortions of the truth will show up. I do very much believe in tell the truth, and nothing but the truth – but for goodness’ sake don’t tell the whole truth.
If you’d like to discuss how to position yourself for a change, then please do get in touch.