Why self-promotion fuels innovation

You might not think that self-promotion has a close connection to innovation. However, research proves that there is a connection between self-promotion, growth mindset and in turn, innovation.

Self-promotion, the art of advocating for yourself, within professional settings and outside them. Self-promotion allows you to set yourself apart from others, showcase your uniqueness to others, get deserved recognition and also potentially make yourself visible for opportunities. What is most interesting, is that it is a somewhat taboo subject for women to address, yet it is an essential tool for career advancement.

The art of advocating for oneself remains a challenge for a lot of people. Social norms are something that we all have to navigate through, and these will depend on the country you work within. Imposter syndrome can affect everyone, even people who, by all objective standards, are incredibly successful and accomplished.

I believe this has a strong connection to innovation, specifically the growth mindset. At times, we can hold a negative mindset about self-promotion, identifying as a distasteful or self-serving choice. I think this is a clear demonstration of a fixed mindset. As if an individual attempts to talk about their accomplishments, to take credit for their successes, doing so with both confidence and conviction remains challenging.

Growth mindset is focused on the notion of thriving on challenges, and understands failure is an opportunity to stretch one's current abilities. Yet, there remain various misconceptions about what it means to have a growth mindset. For some, people believe that it is solely centred on continuous rewards. Despite this, effort alone is not always the best thing, especially if the effort is unproductive. Individuals who embrace the process of growth mindset, understand that both learning and progress are equally important as effort.

Colleagues in leadership positions can be seen to exhibit this frame of thinking. They will employ bigger picture thinking, to explore what they can learn from their experiences, rather than getting fixated on shortcomings. By utilising and applying collective knowledge, leaders can avoid duplicating the same mistakes. Regardless, feelings of insecurity can increase when you are up against challenges, which could mean that you could instead focus on a fixed mindset.

Contrary to what we might like to think, accomplishments don’t speak for themselves. And when we do not speak up for ourselves, fight through the discomfort we can unintentionally limit our growth. Without an open atmosphere to talk about your successes, in adversity, you may find that the culture of innovation becomes stagnant. If the same people continuously give their opinions, and no one else does, quite quickly it can become merely an echo chamber. In some circumstances, this can curb all innovation what-so-ever, as it becomes something done as a tick-box exercise.

We must begin to see self-promotion for the skill that it is: a leadership skill. It is down to you, and your responsibility to speak openly about what you and your team have achieved. This is not only for your benefit but also for your team and your wider company. From this perspective, self-promotion takes on a very different purpose. You are letting others know of your accomplishments and your value proposition, and you are offering to help in ways that benefit the company as a whole. Everyone wins.

If you have spearheaded or led something (a project or initiative), your company wins too. The company can use your accomplishments to initiate other projects or ideas across the whole organisation. They can use your success metrics as an example for the future company and cannot leverage your success in other areas. It allows you to begin to build a level of influence, as you begin to share your ideas and wins, fostering a culture of collaboration which indirectly supports innovation across the board.

The art of self-promotion then has a clear influential role in how we develop as leaders, how we foster inclusive teams but also how we support innovation in all aspects of our lives.