The right to leadership

Five ways to be more confident and humblebrag at work.

Melody Wilding, career coach, talks about how to stop being shy about your successes and start talking about them, in a way that helps the team and the company.

Imposter syndrome and self-promotion in the workplace

Imposter syndrome leads you to doubt yourself and downplay your capabilities. You believe that, despite your many accomplishments, you’re not smart enough and assume it’s only a matter of time before others discover that you’re a fraud.

In order to change the way you see yourself, you need to take actions that are aligned with the belief that you want to create for yourself. You need to put into practice ways of self-promotion that are more organic and natural for you

Imposter syndrome is more common among Sensitive Strivers. That is, high-achievers who are also very sensitive. Such people are prone to overthinking and emotional reactivity that can result from imposter syndrome. These leaders tend to be quieter and more reserved (pausing before acting, taking time to observe, etc.) and to put other people’s needs ahead of their own.

If this sounds like you, then it’s time to stop:

  • fearing visibility in the workplace;

  • downplay the value of your work to others;

  • dismissing your impact;

  • minimising the importance of your thoughts and opinions;

  • “putting your head down” and expecting to be noticed.

In other words, it’s time to overcome impostor syndrome and embrace your strengths and successes. It’s time to openly talk about yourself and master the art of self-promotion.

After all, being a Sensitive Striver is a great strength. Your traits are necessary for high-performance, such as conscientiousness, loyalty, and empathy Many managers in actual fact consider these types of employees the most valuable.

In order to change the opinions you have about yourself (i.e. to stop thinking that you are not good enough, or smart enough, etc.), then you need to start doing things differently. Specifically, you need to take action that is aligned with the belief that you want to create for yourself, and to put into practice ways of self-promotion that are more organic and natural for sensitive individuals.

Share stories

Sensitive Strivers often shy away from talking about their work because it feels too focused on themselves. But the best “brags” are those that also offer something useful to the other person. And the easiest way to do this is through storytelling.

For example, I had a client, who was trying to develop confidence and gain the trust of her company. At meetings, she began to talk about examples from her real experience, when she had to deal with customer problems. Through this sharing of lessons learned and useful tips with colleagues, she quickly got the reputation as a promising leader and someone who could achieve good results in her work.

Express pride and gratitude

Forget phrases like “Oh, it was nothing”, “no big deal”, “well I did this, but I didn’t do that”. Stop taking everything on. Accept praise with dignity: (“Thanks! I’m glad you noticed. I worked hard on it.”)

Express emotions about your achievements more directly, especially when it comes to pride and gratitude. This could be something like: “I’m very proud about how the plan came together”, or “I’m thankful for the excellent opportunity to grow the business and attract new clients”.

The ability to give a real-life example helps to build self-confidence.

Keep everyone updated

Your boss should be your biggest supporter, and the only way for this to happen is to always keep them updated about the progress of your projects. On Monday send a note to your boss detailing your focuses for the week, and on Friday report back on your progress, highlighting main wins and positive interactions you’ve had. As an alternative, add an “achievements” section to one-on-one meetings.

Forget phrases like “Oh, it was nothing”, “no big deal”. Stop taking everything on. Accept praise with dignity: “Thank you! I’m glad you noticed. I worked hard on it.”

You can take this a step further through sharing a monthly or quarterly team update with the entire company, or to senior leadership. Consider this a newsletter that has the main goal of keeping everyone informed, but also helps to share the results of your team.

Recognition from outside your company

Don’t be shy about the praise you get from others. It proves your social importance and may be shown through positive feedback about your work or feedback from a client. In addition, you can be precise about the prestigious partners with which your company cooperates, or well-known organisations with which you are somehow connected.

Also, wherever possible, do not forget to give accurate and relevant data. Precise numbers and details always draw attention. There’s a big difference between, “I’m a manager in the technology sector" versus “I’m a manager with 10 years of experience leading teams in the US and Asia in the technology sector.”

Help others with your expertise

One of the best ways to talk about how you are a valuable employee is to teach what you know to others. Offer to organise and informal event to discuss a subject you are interested in. Offer to help in new projects that allow you to get experience in other departments and use your skills.

Take on mentoring activities and train new employees of your company or novice specialists in your field. By helping others, you will not only get satisfaction, but you will also realise how competent you really are.


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