Is It Okay to Honk Your Own Horn?

During a recent leadership workshop abroad, a young participant asked, “is it okay to tell others the good things I do?” In my response, I deferred to the sage advice from my Grandma Goldie:

“If you don’t honk your own horn, don’t expect someone else to do it for you. Just don’t lay on it.”

There’s a fine line between acknowledgment and humility; one that many leaders question when it comes to balancing the two. 

Numerous leadership studies and good common sense conclude that effective leaders espouse gratefulness and model humility. So, what can one learn from comparing these two characteristics to the conventional wisdom of Granny?

Humility Is Not Passivity

First and foremost, let’s clear up this point; being humble is not passive or a sign of weakness. It’s a state of respect for how people act toward each other. Leaders need to be aware of their contributions and the contributions of others, celebrating them along the way. 

In the context of accomplishments, acting with humility simply means the leader gives credit to others for their work and minimizes talking about their successes. However, being passive about sharing achievements is also not a sign of humility. It’s simply a means of accepting or allowing what happens without an active response or resistance.

A Best Practice is to demonstrate self-regard. Displaying a healthy level of self-regard is one aspect of transformative principles that leaders of Cohesion Cultures employ to manage their actions and emotions. This concept suggests that leaders think before they speak or act. Leaders who relate well to self and others create strong community bonds between and with people. 

Value From Contributions

Next, leaders must possess the ability to see value in what they do as well as in others. When contributions are valued, people experience a euphoric and essential feeling of self-worth. As leaders stimulate, mold thinking, and encourage their team members to achieve success, people begin to gain an understanding of what is important. 

Leaders of Cohesion Cultures are also good social architects. They find ways to connect what people do—both individually and collectively—with specific group and organizational outcomes. 

Finally, leaders have permission to bring light to their contributions. When acknowledged effectively, the contributions are viewed by others as part of a collective effort from the entire team. The challenge for leaders is to establish a healthy and regular routine of sharing accomplishments of all contributors. 

Honking Not Hogging

Grandma was simply letting me know it was okay to talk about what I did with cautionary advice to not overdo it. Therefore, my advice is: Toot on occasion and heed the warning. Leaders should never become braggarts, dream stealers, or honor hogs. If they do, then they have laid on the honker for way too long. 

How do you celebrate achievement in your organization? What is your favorite way to help others celebrate? Share your story below!