When we talk to people about self-promotion, the first reaction is usually negative. Some have a visceral reaction, literally recoiling at the idea. Some simply reject it; they say speaking up about their talents and successes is not their style. Others view self-promotion as a dose of tough medicine: they may know it’s good for them, but it leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

In addition to holding a negative view of the truly obnoxious suck-ups, people who shy away from talking about themselves and their work usually hold other strong beliefs. In a 2008 CCL survey, conducted with over 100 successful leaders from Fortune 500 companies, we asked about the importance of self-promotion. There was a significant difference between ...

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