Career Growth: When Tooting Your Own Horn is Good

How competitive is your company?

I don’t mean the external competition against other companies in the industry or marketplace…I am talking about the internal competition.

The one where executives and emerging leaders have to be strategic in positioning themselves for prestige, power, brand recognition and top promotion.

To be successful as a trusted leader and influencer in your company, you must demonstrate the ability to do your job well and gain respect from your bosses and colleagues in the process.

That’s where “tooting” your horn comes into play. Now, I am not talking about the self-centered, attention-getting antics that alienates others and creates a cutthroat, distrustful work environment.

I mean taking concerted, strategic efforts to build your leadership brand and enhance your professional reputation so that you are not the hardest working, best kept secret in your company.

So how do you do that in a way that build relationships, gain allies and secures advocates? Well, it goes back to being strategic and being clear about what you want your end goal to be.

  • Are you trying to position yourself for long-term growth in the company?
  • Is there a leadership opportunity on the horizon that you are competing for?
  • Have you recently joined the company and need to build your reputation?

Once you have clarified your goals and the results you want, here are four strategic steps you can follow for success.

A) Evaluate an untapped business opportunity or unresolved area of improvement

The idea is not to discredit or embarrass another leader or his/her team, but to identify an area where you can contribute and make a significant impact to the company.

Maybe there are emerging technologies that would costs, new business processes that can enhance productivity or best practices you can apply to a business challenge.

You want to be innovative and deliver “first-of-its-kind” solutions in a way that gives you credit as the thought leader while gaining support, buy-in and consensus for senior management and colleagues.

Build a strong business case, provide tangible results and realistic projections that will help you gain management endorsement.

B) Build a high-profile, productive team to join your new initiative

A real leader creates the vision, puts together the strategic roadmap and work with a team to execute the plan.

Getting people to be part of the team means communicating a message that speaks success and visibility for you, the team members and the company as a whole.

If the initiative is touted in a way that makes it all about you, getting internal support, resources and the required investments needed to move forward will be very challenging.

Be clear about the team’s purpose, primary objective, operating principles and dotted lines of responsibility…again, transparency about what you are trying to accomplish is going to be key in solidifying your initiative.

C) Work aggressively to achieve top results and surpass management expectations

If you don’t achieve your goals and accomplish the results…well, there is nothing to brag about right?

Focus on low hanging fruit early in the initiative so you can have quick wins for you and the team. That way, your leadership efforts and brand reputation starts to grow and you gain credibility as a top contributor.

Show that you are a team player by putting the spotlight on your team as well. Give them necessary recognition and publicity for their efforts and create a win-win working environment for everyone.

D) Don’t be hesitant or shy about sharing your results throughout the company

Consider developing white papers, data sheets and mini case studies and project reports to adequately publicize and celebrate what your team is doing for the company.

Be intentional about not being “self-serving” in this process even though you should be strategic in getting recognized for your leadership efforts and bringing new results to the company.

What happens next is really up to you and how you manage your success record going forward. You can actively look for new initiatives and bigger business challenges to solve or you can align yourself with key decision makers who will pull you into high-profile projects.

Now how is that for a little bragging and touting your own horn?