Employment challenges, life hurdles, relationship adjustments, mate selection and even ordinary interpersonal relationships command our unique way of self-presentation. Some people offer an exaggerated depiction of their talents and skills while others provide a more tempered portrayal of their suitability for a task. Which style serves you best?
Psychologically, we are aware that creating a favorable impression is more likely to endear us to others, enhance our chances of being elected, selected, included and preferred in comparison to others. Yet, some individuals’ intensity in trying to be perceived favorably may actually backfire and cause them to be less well-regarded.
Jeanine Prime, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Sahib of the Catalyst Research Center for Advanced Leadership Effectiveness reported that among 1500 workers from Australia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the U.S. In their publication “The Best Leaders Are Humble Leaders” they detailed the process of modeling leadership: “Acts of humility, learning from admitting mistakes, empowerment of others, acts of courage and holding employees responsible for results.” were the traits that most endeared workers to their managers and made employees heighten their sense of belonging.” The authors also recommended practicing humility as a way to facilitate acceptance of errors in a forgiving and kind way by modeling it at the same time.
Social Psychologist Susan Speer of the University of Manchester used the term “Self-Praise” in lieu of bragging. She labels bragging as “The least effective form of self–praise that directly violates social norms against portraying yourself in a positive light.”
Socially, those who seem to readily sing their own praises are often not viewed as favorably by others as those who are praised by their spouses, bosses, mentors, friends or acquaintances. Self-promoting one’s achievements, worth or value actually appears as a weakness rather than a strength.
Employees feel more secure when they receive verbal appreciations and monetary incentives in recognition of their loyalty and valued work. In “Work and Quality of Life- Ethical Practices in Organizations” Nora P. Reilly and M. Joseph Sirgy reported that “All employees are dependent on their supervisors input and validation helps them maintain a healthy attitude and high productivity.”
Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. who studies bragging behaviors stated, “The best way to brag about yourself to others is probably not to brag at all. Being able to take pride in your achievements, is not only okay, but healthy. So brag about yourself to yourself.” She also recommends, “share your mistakes as teachable moments… It allows others to be fallible as well.”
The above international survey documented that when employees observed altruistic or selfless behavior by their managers that included Acts of humility such as learning from and admitting mistakes, empowering followers to learn and develop, taking risks for the greater good and holding employees responsible for results” made employees feel unique and heightens their sense of belonging.
Be a healthy leader:
- Model honesty, hard work and humility to your employees and colleagues.
- When possible, reframe your employees’ errors as products of their creativity and initiative.
- Expect the best from your staff. Be kind and affirming.
- Silently validate your accomplishments to yourself.