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How to Authentically Self-Promote Yourself to Your Boss at Work

You might be struggling with feeling inauthentic with your boss when it comes to self-promotion. Although it may feel uncomfortable, this is a necessary part of your manager’s evaluation process of you. On one hand, you want to tell the boss about your accomplishments and progress, and good news in your department. On the other hand, it may feel like bragging.

To feel authentic in this process, you need to connect the leadership skill you’re developing to something your boss cares about.

Often, managers feel uncomfortable talking about how they achieved success–and doing it can feel inauthentic. Since companies promote people great at leadership, managers like you need to learn how to talk about your own leadership abilities and use “I” to do that. You can feel okay about this and do it in a way that feels good.

Step 1: Get in the habit of documenting your successes on a regular basis and noting what leadership skill you improved upon to achieve it. When you enter a conversation about this with your manager, you’ll have those details available to share.

By doing this on a regular basis, your boss will be aware of your achievements and development as a leader while understanding how you contribute to the success of the organization.

Let’s dive into the details about how to do this authentically.

In today’s “look-at-me” social media world, you may find yourself a bit turned off by all that self promotion you see around you.

I get that.

It can be hard even to have a 1-to-1 with your boss, because they may not know how to have these conversations.

So how do you share your achievements without sounding like you’re boasting?

Step 2: You can use specific statements using “I” and “we.” Use the word “I” purposefully. Using both words together can be a powerful way to describe your achievements.

Every “I” statement should contain a “we” and vice versa.

  1. We hit our sales goal, when I implemented a new sales process.

  2. I introduced a new process, resulting in the [team’s achievement].

If you’re like most managers, it’s pretty easy to talk about business metrics and fundamentals. However, some managers have trouble talking about these topics from a leadership development perspective that will show their development in the best light.

During check-ins with your boss, prepare these questions to discuss:

  1. What leadership behavior did you try?

  2. What leadership skill did you put into action that resulted in the positive outcome?

  3. Did the skill involve getting organized, facing conflict, or learning a new way to get the team to collaborate?

Write these answers down in the notes you’re taking throughout the year, so you have them handy.

Remember: It’s up to you to connect the dots for your boss. It’s not up to the boss to sift through details to uncover your leadership genius.

Every meeting should have a point and a desired outcome. Even more important when it’s a development conversation.

Using the steps above can help you feel more comfortable having the meeting with your boss.

Example of What to Say:

“The purpose of this meeting is to share with you some good news about my department and what I learned.” [Use specific details that relate to your situation.]

Learning to be more prepared before conversations will help you gain confidence, clarity, a wider perspective and, as a result, that conversation will go more smoothly.

  1. Practice out loud what you want to say. This will allow you to put this into your own words while being authentic.

  2. Practice your opening statement or question.

  3. Reading your notes again.

  4. Practice how you’ll address any objections or questions.

  5. Practice driving to the outcome and getting to the point.

Taking these steps will take you a long way toward having productive and more comfortable conversations with your boss.

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Questions? Contact Susan Shapiro:

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