Nobody would describe me as humble. I’m very comfortable announcing to the world the talents that God has given me, but when it comes to bragging about my own accomplishments, those things that I have done with my hard work and effort, I get tongue-tied. After all, I was raised a good girl and good girls don’t brag (if you don’t believe me Google, “Nice girls don’t brag”). Recently, the Association for Women Scientists discussion boards (AWIS) had an interesting discussion about this based on an article by Renee Weisman titled, “Nice girls don’t…. brag,” (http://www.womensradio.com/articles/Nice-Girls-Dont…Brag/9260.html) about the need for women to do a better job about sharing with others their accomplishments. I wholeheartedly agree with the article and realize that I have a deficiency in this area.
A few years back we had a cross-company meeting to kick-off a project that I was supposed to lead. As we went around the table introducing ourselves, all the men (yes, I was the only female as usual) announced their titles, responsibilities, and potential contributions to the project with complete confidence. When my turn came, I could barely muster my name and state that I was a team member in this project for fear of sounding like I was bragging. Big Boss had to intervene and indicate that I was selling myself short and, in fact, I had already made great contributions to the effort and therefore I would lead this team. While I greatly appreciated his vote of confidence, I realized I had undermined my authority in the project by not fully stating my capabilities.
Since that time, I have paid more attention to how I present myself to others and how I make sure to let others know what I bring to the table. I need to remind myself that my colleagues won’t know what I am capable of if I don’t let them know myself.
In the course of the AWIS board discussion, some contributors (all female) have argued that they don’t want to fit the mold, they don’t feel comfortable due to cultural reasons or they believe that the hard work will speak for itself and, therefore, they don’t want to change.
I’d say, fine don’t change, but don’t expect others to change to accommodate you either. The current corporate culture, right or wrong, favors those who “self-promote.” In corporate America, we encourage independent thinkers with drive and initiative, but if they are independent, how do we really know what they are doing? They have to tell us!
In addition, as we take on more and more responsibilities, who can keep track of everything we do other than ourselves? Just two weeks ago, Big Boss and I were discussing if I could take on another project. As I went down the list of projects on my plate, he had forgotten about a couple of them because I am driving those projects with little to no supervision.
With that in mind, I make a point of sending him e-mails as FYI when someone gives me a compliment or I accomplish something relevant in my work, particularly around those projects that he has little involvement with. My boss has an organization of 40 people and understandably has a hard time remembering what every single one of us does. His boss has an organization of 200…
Finally, there are many ways of sharing with others our contributions. Yes, we can do it ourselves, but an even better way is to recruit others to do so for you. Recently, my direct report came to share a compliment that a colleague gave her. I was really proud of her for sharing with me, but we still have to find a way for the rest of the organization to hear what she accomplished. I told her to ask her colleague to actually share the story with their own supervisor. I could have reached that supervisor myself, but I wanted her to learn to ask others for support in tooting her horn.
Call it “bragging,” “tooting our horn,” or simply “clear communication,” but where do you stand? Do you think that your colleagues, supervisor, and senior management know what you are truly capable of?