In Person: is your modesty misplaced?

CSP chief executive Karen Middleton offers advice to a member who doesn’t want to be seen as a show-off.

It has been great to receive emails and comments about topics I have covered in this column. Keep them coming! 
One question I have been asked about is self-promotion. The member who got in touch with me indicated that she is very happy to promote the profession, her service, and so on. She has had feedback that she needs to do more to promote herself, but feels very uncomfortable doing so.
The feedback she has had may indicate that she is too self-deprecating. She may not be taking responsibility for what she, personally, has achieved as she points to her team or others involved. 
I have seen this often in the interview situation. Knowing when to say ‘I’ is important rather than the ‘we’ of shared recognition. I wonder if the worry about taking responsibility – and recognition – for something is because doing so also brings accountability?
However, there is nothing worse than someone who is so full of themselves and what they have done that you are turned off on a very basic human level.

Promote your work

Striking a balance is important. My advice is to let the work and what you achieve do the talking for you rather than, in itself, trying to promote you. But you do need to promote the work and the difference you make, which I think is the bit that, as physios, we’re not terribly good at. 
How often has someone said to you, ‘you should write that up’ or ‘have you thought of putting in for an award for that work?’ How often do you start a new innovation, develop a project plan and not think about the communication strategy?
I often hear members say that just doing a good job and knowing you make a difference to people’s lives is enough. That may be so, but imagine how many more lives you could make a difference to if you promoted the difference you make!
Highlighting your work will allow some self-promotion and taking responsibility for what you have done will help too. There is a further step, however.
You may have seen the questions I regularly use to review my own development, as I described in my Founders Lecture in 2014. One of them is about ‘what do you want to be known for in six months, or one year?’ This is about more than what you have done. It is about who you are and what you stand for; what do people say about you; and what are your values. I think this is about being authentic and consistent.

Know your worth

Then the last step is to get out there so that people do get to know you; who you are, what you stand for and the difference you can make. This goes back to going the extra mile, attending events, having your business cards ready and then following up with a call and, of course, networking like mad. 
Self-promotion alone is empty. You have to be known for something. This may be a combination of what you have achieved, your knowledge and expertise and the person you are. However, misplaced modesty means that you can only have limited impact. Applying some of the principles of marketing and communication, as with our whole profession, can help. fl

Got a question for Karen?

Do you have a question for Karen about applying for a job, taking on a leadership role or a management issue? Drop her an email and she’ll try to answer your question in this column (suitably anonymised of course!)​​​​​​​

Karen Middleton

Number of subscribers: 0

Log in to comment and read comments that have been added