Shining a Light on Women Who Stay out of the Spotlight At Work

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told in my professional career to cheerily offer ‘assists,’ to be a gracious ‘team player,’ and to not take credit for projects I’ve worked really hard on.

I understand the merits of being a good team player. Obviously, no one person can do everything alone, nor should they. It really does take team work to make dreams work (dreams, quotas, year-end goals, etc.)

Where the advice has me scratching my head is that – outside of my LinkedIn profile – I rarely hear that I should speak highly of the things I have accomplished. And if I do speak highly of my accomplishments, how should I talk about them? 

There's a fine line between boastful and bashful. One says 'I am so freaking awesome, hear me roar" while the other says "I did a thing, but I'm nervous to tell you all about it." Neither are particularly helpful if you're trying to get a point across that you accomplished something. The issue a lot of women (or at least a lot of women I know) face is how to assert yourself and what you've accomplished without sounding like a jerk or a braggart.  

Case in point, when two of my colleagues and I launched Influential Women in Manufacturing last year, they insisted my name be at the top. My humbleness told me to take the third spot because that’s where I fell in our alphabetical order, but my colleagues reminded me I'm the reason the program exists. I still feel sort of odd with that top spot, but I'm slowly growing to accept it. 

Another case in point, I do many other things at Putman Media and for Food Processing that are 90% of the time unnoticed to the casual observer. When I exceed a KPI with gusto, I utter a small ‘woo-hoo!,' let my boss know about it, and then go about my business, trying to remember to update my LinkedIn profile with the bigger ticket items that really stand out. I still don’t really call attention to myself at work the way I probably could... or should.

Maybe that’s why when I saw this reporting done in Harvard Business Review, it stood out to me: Why Women Stay out of the Spotlight At Work.

Women, more often than men, face a conundrum in having their accomplishments be taken seriously – or even being seen at all. The article cites three reasons for this: To avoid conflict, to feel authentic, and to balance demands. As I read each point, I found my head bobbing up and down in agreement. I suspect yours might do the same, too. 

I’ll let you read the article on your own, but it raises an incredibly valid point about issues that we all wrestle with, regardless of gender: How assertive should I be at work and should I care more about accomplishment or being liked? I’m curious to know your thoughts on the matter. E-Mail me and let’s talk about your own experiences with being in the spotlight at work.


Speaking of accomplishments...
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