Ministry Resources

The Evils of Self-promotion and Reframing our Thinking

Author: Angela Craig

You have been given gifts and passions to share with the world. God designed you to make a difference in the lives of others and the world at large.

But something is holding you back?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.

~ Marianne Williamson

Are you playing small?

When I play small, I hide my talent from the world. I lack the courage to be a good steward of what God has given me and I hold back the Light that needs to shine from my life into the lives of others. It is my personal fears and self-focus that bind me from sharing what God has created to be generously shared and visible in the world.

Matthew 25:24-29 tells the story of my hidden talent pretty clearly: “Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’ 26 But his master answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? 27 Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! 28 Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has ten. 29 For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”

Are you tired of hiding your talent and ready to shine?

The following is an excellent resource from the Center for Creative Leadership on how to overcome the hurdles of self-promotion by reframing our thinking and take authentic forward action.

Podcast transcript from Leading Effectively Podcasts. I highly recommend bookmarking this page.

Politics of Self Promotion: Using Visibility to Benefit You, Your Team and Your Organization

Do you often feel you’re not recognized for your contributions at work? The antidote to being overlooked – or underestimated – is self-promotion – the act of generating personal visibility within your organization. But, like political skill, self-promotion is often seen as a negative.

If you are uncomfortable with the concept and practice of self-promotion, reframe old beliefs about visibility, suggest Gina Hernez-Broome, Cindy McLaughlin and Stephanie Trovas, Center for Creative Leadership faculty members and co-authors of Selling Yourself Without Selling Out: A Leader’s Guide to Ethical Self-Promotion.

What follows are five limiting beliefs and ways to turn them around to appropriately promote yourself:

  • Limiting Belief #1: Accomplishments should speak for themselves. The truth is a lot of good work falls under the radar. Often people believe they shouldn’t have to self-promote because good work will speak for itself. But many managers are surprised to find that bosses, peers and direct reports do not recognize their skills and contributions. It is your job to let people know about your work, why it is important and how it benefits others.
  • Limiting Belief #2: My boss is too busy to hear me talk about myself. Isn’t it part of your boss’ job to know what’s happening in the department? By keeping your boss informed, by providing the information she needs, you are, in fact, doing your job. Your very busy boss doesn’t want to pry things out of you: Tell her what is going well, where the struggles are and what you need.
  • Limiting Belief #3: Team players don’t take credit. Actually, high visibility benefits the team. You need to be skilled at communicating the value of the work and the talent of the people on the team. At times, your efforts may highlight your individual role; in other cases, you may promote another team member or the team as a whole. This type of promotion generates reward and recognition for a deserving team.
  • Limiting Belief #4: Not wanting to brag. Shift your mental model: view talking about your accomplishments as a way to help others who might be working on similar projects or task forces. Sell yourself as a resource. Think of it as walking into the spotlight rather than trying to shine it on yourself.
  • Limiting Belief #5: Discomfort promoting yourself. For a variety of reasons, some people are incredibly uncomfortable speaking up about their accomplishments. For leaders who naturally shy away from self-promotion, the key is to use tactics and behaviors that are effective and, at the same time, will maintain a sense of integrity and authenticity.

As Hernez-Broome says, self-promotion is a key component to a leader’s effectiveness and long-term success. To develop strong, effective self-promotional skills, leaders need to find a balance between over-the-top, obnoxious bragging and being overly modest – and overlooked.

What's Next

We would love to answer any question you have or help suggest next steps on your journey.