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Women in Leadership

A Different Way to Think About Bragging

Lynn Rousseau asked:

My client, Gloria, was recently named head of the information technology group in her organization, reporting to the CEO. In the past, she has been successful in getting things done by ‘flying under the radar’ and influencing behind the scenes. We could also describe this as being somewhat invisible. She tells me she doesn’t like to ‘brag’.

Gloria also has a very easy style of getting people on board with her ideas. However, as an officer of the company, she is being called to be more visible. Her discomfort, like most women in leadership, is that she doesn’t want to brag and doesn’t want to be perceived as pushy. I completely understand this.

Gloria is a brilliant strategist and can see trends that need to be attended to now in order to prepare the company for what’s coming down the pike. Yet, because of her style, many people in the organization do not see this side of her. Let’s look at the costs of being invisible, or ‘not bragging’.

** The Costs of ‘Not Bragging’ **

Her resistance to being more visible has leadership implications. By not sharing what she’s doing, her peers see only certain parts of her and what she does. To be an active part of the senior leadership team, she will need share more of her thinking and broaden how she is perceived.

Her boss wants the board of directors to know what she’s doing because her contributions to the senior team are helping the company move forward in a highly competitive marketplace. Gloria gets frustrated at times when other employees think her group is predominantly a help desk function. Yet, this is part of her own style that has caused this.

** An Opportunity for Higher Employee Engagement **

Her employees are well thought of in the organization. Yet, there’s an opportunity for this group to be seen for the depth and breadth of everything they do. Everyone has a basic need to be valued and appreciated and there’s an opportunity here to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction.

When a leader is effective in conveying the value of his or her group to the rest of the organization, this provides inspiration not only to the immediate group, but to the larger whole. Employees are able to see the positive direction the company is headed and how the parts contribute to the whole. Additionally, other employees also know what to call on this group for when they need support.

** Inspiration in Action **

So, my reframe on bragging is that it’s vital to find an authentic way to communicate to your boss, peers and the rest of the organization related to what you’re doing, your strategic thinking process, the results you’re achieving and how it connects to the whole. This actually provides hope and inspiration. And, inspiration is one of the key elements of a great leader.

** Where Can You Apply? **

Where are you holding back because you’re worried it will sound like bragging? Think of a specific situation that would be beneficial for others to know and consider how you can authentically share the key elements in a way that inspires others?

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