As an executive coach, all too often I hear my clients say that they “should not need to broadcast their achievements”; that “their results should speak for themselves”.  I used to believe this too.

Now I have come to understand that this view is a little naïve in the business world where perception management counts for a great deal.

Many of my clients have an allergic reaction to “blowing their own trumpet”. This probably stems from childhood messages where we were told no-one likes a ‘bragger’.

However, there is a middle ground between being invisibly successful and being unashamedly self-promoting.  I call this approach “A thin layer of icing (frosting)”.

Imagine that you are someone who bakes cakes and then sells them through a home industries store. You pride yourself on the lightness and the melt-in-your mouth quality of your cake.  You are so proud that you don’t believe the cakes need icing at all.  So, you put three of four of these un-iced cakes on the shelf.

They don’t sell because people expect cakes to be iced/frosted. That is what makes them look so enticing.  The quality of the actual cake only gets discovered in the first bite.  If no-one is buying them then no-one is eating them and so no-one gets to discover the melt-in-your-mouth sensation of your cake.  You go back to putting a thin layer of icing on your cake and suddenly they sell again and there are repeat buyers.

This article is not suggesting that you can ice a stale cake and expect repeat business. Most people who embellish / over-promote their achievements are soon discovered to be great-icing-poor-cake people.

This post suggests that you take the great quality of work that you produce and subtly share these results with key stakeholders, by way of a casual conversation or a short email that puts a thin layer of icing on a delicious cake.

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