When Is It Ok For A CIO To Brag?

When you've accomplished something great, is it ok to tell people about it?
When you’ve accomplished something great, is it ok to tell people about it?
Image Credit: bengtham

As the person with the CIO job, you are in charge of a lot of different things. There always seem to be projects going on, decisions to be made, and things for you to do that reflect the importance of information technology. However, just every so often, things go right. When this happens you accomplish something great. You now have a big decision to make. Should you tell other people about the good thing that you made happen? Should you brag?

What Does Bragging Get You?

So if you are like me, you generally shy away from bragging about yourself or your accomplishments too much. I’m not 100% sure why, but I’m pretty sure that my Mom taught me that it was impolite to talk about yourself too much. However, perhaps Mom was wrong. The fancy term for bragging is “self enhancement”. It turns out that this self enhancement can be a good thing. We can manipulate how other people see us by making very careful decisions about when (and how) we choose to brag about ourselves.

If you want people to view you as being competent then you need to limit your bragging to those times that you can back up the claims that you are making. Alternatively, you can brag when you are confident that there will never be any evidence to refute what you are saying. You do need to understand that by doing this there is a chance that people will come to view you as being somewhat arrogant. If you choose to not brag about yourself, then what will happen is that people are going to view you as being both humble and warm. However, at the same time they may also view you as being less capable.

Let’s make sure that we’re all on the same page here: just exactly what is bragging? I define it as being when we public ally tell other people that we are better at doing something than others are. It turns out that there are two types of braggers out there. The first type is called justified braggers. These are the people who can back up their claims. The other type is called errant or erroneous braggers. These are the people who are really just exaggerating when they talk about themselves.

Is There A Downside To Bragging?

Fantastic, it sure sounds like we should all be spending some more time talking about ourselves. What’s to lose? What we need to realize is that it turns out that bragging is actually a risky thing to do. There has been some research done that has revealed that people who brag tend to be perceived as being narcissistic and even less moral. The list of bad attributes just goes on. Braggers tend to be less well-adjusted, they struggle in relationships, and can have lower self-esteem. It’s just a bit worse for women. Women CIOs who brag tend to get judged more harshly than men CIOs do.

In order to not make a mistake when it comes to bragging about yourself, you are going to want to strategically manipulate how people perceive you. In order to accomplish this, you are going to have to take the time to decide if you care more about being seen as a competent person or as a moral person. Key to making this kind of decision will be to determine what kind of situation you are in. If you have been called on to talk about yourself, then some bragging may be called for. If you are in a one-on-one situation, then you might want to be more modest.

What’s interesting here is that you also don’t want to do the opposite of bragging. It’s called being ineffectually humble. This can happen if you fail to point out your accomplishments when it really matters. Likewise, you need to be careful to avoid dropping any “brag bombs”. These can occur if you happen to misread your audience, if you just simply have bad timing, if you start to drone on and on about how great you are, or if you get caught lying about your accomplishments.

What All Of This Means For You

Being the person in the CIO position, you know how great you are. You sure would like to tell the rest of the world how great you are. If you do, then this is going to be considered to be bragging and you are going to have to go about doing it very carefully.

No matter if your Mom told you that bragging was a bad thing to do, in the right circumstances it can be an ok thing for you to do. You need be careful when you start to brag about yourself. You had better make sure that you can back up any claims that you make. People will view you as being a competent but arrogant. If you don’t brag about yourself you’ll be seen as being humble but perhaps less capable. The world is divided into two types of braggers: justified braggers and erroneous braggers. If we choose to brag about ourselves we do run the risk of being viewed as being as being narcissistic and even less moral. Prior to bragging you will need to decide if you care more about being seen as a competent person or as a moral person.

In the end, I believe that it turns out that bragging is a skill. As CIOs, we do so much that there is a good chance that people don’t realize all of the great things that we accomplish. A little bit of bragging is probably justified in order to get the word out about what we’ve been able to accomplish. Do be careful, make sure that any bragging that you do can be backed up with solid evidence of your accomplishments.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there is anyone in your company that you should NOT brag to?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’ve got a quick question for you: how good is your ability to predict the future? If your skill in this area is anything like mine, you find yourself being constantly surprised by things that you simply didn’t see coming. As the person with the CIO job, you really can’t allow this to happen to you. Because of the importance of information technology, the consequences of something happening that you are not prepared for are just too great. What this means is that knowing what will happen in the future just got a whole lot more important for you. Now how are you going to find out what you need to know?