Self-promotion gets a bad rap. Many people in organizations revile its practice, and they belittle the people who adopt its tactics with derogatory labels like brownnosers and suck-ups. Yet, time after time, organizations reward self-promoters. Rewards and opportunities are routinely bestowed on the most vocal or most visible even if they aren’t the most qualified. The peers and direct reports of self-promoters may dismiss them as braggarts, attention hogs, and manipulators, but the people who shine a light on themselves (or somewhere else, if you listen to their detractors) are inevitably first in line for promotions, funding, and plum assignments.

How can this be? How can authentic performance lose out to grandstanding? Why does ...

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