How Important is Self-Promotion for Career Growth?

How Important is Self-Promotion for Career Growth?

My work at Shine Talent gives me access to an extraordinarily large and diverse set of executives, which gives me a keen understanding of what it takes to be a great leader. I have found over the years of interviewing people that the most successful executives are typically the quiet leaders, while those who are more publicly known are sometimes not as impressive when you peel back the surface layer.

In the world of always-on content and social media networking, many executives struggle with how much effort they should put into building their own personal brand through self-promotion. It does hold true that in recruiting, we often see CEOs attracted to the known name and those who have been publicly in the spotlight. We especially find this with sales and marketing leaders, as I think there is a perception that if they are a big name or brand, they know how to attract big audiences or have the network to deliver big revenue. Sometimes they do, but not always.

The best executive leaders we know, especially some of the best CEOs Shine Talent has worked with, are more inwardly focused and operational. They are steadfast in their approach to business and thoughtful about how they spend their time and energy, being highly disciplined in managing growth married to margin and operating the business. They are not focused on how big their social following is or what stage they will be on next. They are focused on delivering results for their customers, employees, and shareholders. This applies to other executives as well. Some of my favorite and most successful startup CMOs have built brands on shoestring budgets and have designed logos on napkins. They aren't mapping out their trip to Cannes or thinking about their personal profile. Their brains are far too consumed by the work they are doing because they are fed by their work, not by their fame.

This is not to say you should shy away from putting yourself out there and sharing your knowledge with others. People deeply appreciate the wisdom coming from executive leaders who have experiences they can learn from, and it is always inspiring listening to an authentic person speak. But the secret here is authenticity, and if you find joy and are comfortable putting your ideas into the world, do it for the benefit of others, and not for any other reason.

When it comes to career advancement, self-promotion primarily serves you and your ego. If you are looking to make it to the C-suite, focus on building a career where your work speaks for itself.