A friend of mine and I were talking about nothing in particular. We do that a lot. It’s mostly about funny stuff. But, nine times out of ten, our conversations spew into something really interesting. This particular discussion fit into that 90% category.
My friend suggested that to get promoted, you need to make sure that bosses see the things you’ve done. Basically, he believes that promotions require a bit of bragging. I told him I saw his point, but also asked if it was worth the damage to the people who report to you if you’re always pitching yourself to bosses.
My thoughts tend to fall at the other end of my friend’s spectrum. I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I am saying we can’t knock out other perspectives. My perspective on this whole successful feeling thing is to make those who report to you be recognized for their excellent service, and never take the recognition for their activities.
That sounds simple enough, but I know several leaders at several work places who have gotten promoted because they took the limelight away from direct reports. This bragging effort probably may not have been on purpose (can’t think of such a thing!), but I could see it done inadvertently. I know, in my earlier days, that I was sometimes guilty of taking the credit for things my reports mostly did. I learned quickly, though, that taking credit for other’s work isn’t the best way to get ahead. People tend to resent things like that (but resent isn’t a strong enough word for it!)
So, what do I recommend? A simple answer: shout from the mountaintops the wonderful things your direct reports do. Make sure every uppity up in the company knows what your folks do. Yep, that’s all it takes.
The good thing about this brag-about-others plan is your reports will do better and better work over time. Stay away from focusing on negative things. My philosophy is I will support any decision or any contribution from people in my area. However, I may suggest that next time they try to do things differently, to think of other people involved. Then, I spend most of my time touting all the wonderful things my direct reports do.
And, guess what, research supports this positive way of supporting your people. Still many bosses prefer to spend time in the negative world. My favorite boss of all time spends his time telling us how wonderful our work is. That makes me want to please him even more. So, even without research, I know from personal experience that his way is better than what I’ve gone through in the past, under hard nose negative mongers.
And here’s another thing I’ve learned along the way. The next time you see something not quite so great in your area of responsibility, find a positive angle and brag about it. Then watch those not so great things wither away. It may take time, especially if you’ve spent time in the negative world, but it will pay off, for your direct reports and for you. And, remember, bragging about others is good. Bragging about yourself is bad.
“Who knows himself a braggart, let him fear this, for it will come to pass that every braggart shall be found an ass.” William Shakespeare