The danger of saying “I let my work speak for itself”

 In Author, Delivery, Entrepreneur, Learning from Luminaries, Luminary, Media, Meetings, Message creation, Mindset, News, The Winning Voice

Have you ever said “I let my work speak for itself?”

Herminia Ibarra, in her superb book Act like a leader, Think like a leader, suggests this is wrong approach for advancing your career as a leader.

Rather, Ibarra suggests you take the advice of former Ogilvy & Mather CEO Charlotte Beers, in Beers’ book I’d rather be in charge.

‘As an up and coming leader, she (Beers) says, you need to understand that you are not your work.

“In a speech based on the book, Beers put it this way:

“You have to learn to step out in front of the work. It’s you who interprets, analyses and delivers the work that matters. If you are not the work, what are you?

You are the fuel, the energy, the systems that delivers the work

and gets it seen and recognised.

It is your unique delivery system. It’s made up of who you are, what you believe, what you feel, and what you think.”

Another pithy idea on page 137 of Ibarra’s book is this:

“If it’s hard for some people to sell their ideas, then it’s even harder for them to sell themselves to senior management.”

Do you find it hard to sell your ideas?

Do you find it hard to sell yourself to senior management?

Own the Conversation

Implementation step:

  • In the next seven days, choose a meeting where you’ll be the presenter.
  • On purpose, when presenting imagine ‘stepping in front of the work’ and being the ‘fuel, energy and systems’ that’s delivering work and getting it seen and recognised.
  • Reflect on the impact of doing that task.
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