How to Get Ahead Without Sucking Up


At every title or level, there are people who feel undervalued, underestimated, and underappreciated by their superiors—and maybe even by their peers.

And so in frustration many resort to sucking up, ingratiating themselves in all the wrong ways to become visible and to be valued.

But nobody really wants to be that person—slavishly hanging around the boss, making sure they’re out front, the loudest voice in the room, and possibly even willing to subvert their co-workers’ performance to make their own look better by comparison.

There’s a better way to make yourself visible but it takes authenticity, integrity, and honesty and when it’s done right it actually helps you and those around you all do a better job.

Get ahead without sucking up and try the following:

Make it a group effort. Let others know you have merit, talk about your team or a group rather than yourself. Find ways to share successes and promote the group’s accomplishments.

Connect to others. Connect authentically with others—find out about them, what interests them, what they are working on and share with them what you do and why you do it and what you know.

Be the leader. Find ways to mentor others or to share a new skill, a new system, an interesting article, or an idea. Make yourself visible, but in a way that’s tied to support, guidance and mentorship.

Be present. Put yourself out front in a positive way by being visible, accessible, and communicative.

Be helpful. When crunch time comes, work twice as hard and be available to those who need help. Keep an eye out for new resources and invite people from other areas of the business who might have helpful expertise or experience.

Ask for help. When you ask for other people’s insights, opinions, and recommendations you gain not only short-term help but valuable connections.

Focus on solutions. When you’ve faced down an issue or crisis, share your processes and solutions. Become known as an excellent problem solver.

Listen to others. Instead of speaking, take the time to ask questions and listen. You’ll be well received—and you’ll learn more.

Self -promotion with authenticity, integrity, and honesty allows you to build a reputation that matches your accomplishments that demonstrates that you are a credible high performer.

  • Leadership is not about sucking up but about building up with authenticity and with accuracy.

Effective authentic self-promotion isn’t about being someone you’re not. In fact, your efforts will be more valuable and better received if you are genuine, substantive—and yes, imperfect.

Because at the end of the day self-promotion connects the dots between what you do and why you do it and let others know it matters.

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