The post originally appeared as part of the American College of Healthcare Executive’s Executive Diversity Career Navigator blog in 2017.
Question: As an accomplished healthcare executive from a diverse background, have you had to balance professional self-promotion with maintaining personal humility. If so, what are some learned techniques for maintaining that balance?
This is an interesting question that so many diverse healthcare executives deal with on a daily basis – the art of self-promotion. I have always believed that the trick to self-promotion is in the delivery. Language becomes a very important tool to mitigate the unintended consequences of being perceived as less authentic or posturing for attention. One of my mentors from New York-Presbyterian coached me on the importance of sharing your accomplishments while being appreciative and humble. Here are a few of my tips.
Show Your Value
Self-promotion can be a very important tool to advance your career and the careers of others who support your success. Don’t be afraid to sell your value proposition both internally and externally to your organization. One way to demonstrate your unique value is to develop your personal story, one that is relatable yet highlights your abilities and experience. The biggest mistake rising executives make is expecting someone to advocate on your behalf. While you can have sponsors and mentors within your organization that may give you exposure, you are the one in control of your career. Being your own advocate can make it easier for others to also advocate for you.
Chances are your accomplishments were the result of collaboration with other Teammates, and acknowledging their contributions is important. I try to use “we” whenever possible when speaking about project successes and endorse other people that supported the team. It’s easier to gain credibility and support from others when you pay it forward and include them in your success when warranted.
There is an inherent fear in admitting when deliverables or projects do not go as planned. Admitting your success and your failures makes you more human and more approachable to your colleagues. I am always drawn to leaders who can cop to mistakes and rise above them. It also shows bravery in your ability to say “I messed up”; however, this is certainly an art. There is a fine balance between being modest and being assertive.