Find a reason to brag

At the right time, a little bragging can go a long way

When is it all right to brag? It’s a peculiar question, but it is intended to examine a common behavior that reflects many institutional cultures and work environments. Yet bragging is not traditionally encouraged by employers.

Yes, I recognize that we are all taught at an early age that bragging is a bad thing and a behavior that should be avoided in public, especially when it’s done at the expense of others. Bragging about our own successes in order to make others feel inadequate often results in a divisive and contentious work environment. So if no one likes a braggart, then when is bragging an acceptable behavior?

A deep dive into your talent pool

I have the privilege of working with some of the smartest, most talented and creative people I have ever worked with in my 30-plus year career. As a CEO, I have the pleasure of assembling and distilling the accomplishments of my peers, which I then use to update the organizational narrative and share with valued stakeholders and our community. It’s a responsibility that I don’t take lightly and it keeps me constantly looking and listening, not to just collect information, but to make sure that what I’m hearing, seeing and feeling reflects the mission and strategic initiatives of the organization. It provides me the platform to inform, evaluate and access everyone and everything central to our institution.

For example, think about the last time someone asked you how things were going at work? More than likely you mentioned something you were working on or a project that was of high priority at the moment. But, when was the last time you said something about someone else’s amazing success or how another department just “crushed it” on a project or new initiative? Why don’t we brag about other people’s accomplishments and the institutional impact they have on the organization or business? It is because we aren’t taught or trained to think about the whole team. We are conditioned to focus only on our individual roles and successes.

Celebrate excellence

So when is bragging good? It’s good when it raises others up and celebrates exceptional teamwork, collaboration, and being comfortable and confident in knowing that sharing news about what others have accomplished is not taking credit, it is giving credit. Collectively, our individual accomplishments become the accomplishments of the entire team, business and organization.

Just imagine how we can all move from a culture of “me” to a culture of “we” by creating a welcoming place where we are all constantly bragging, not for personal gain or what do “I” get out of it, but because there is a common understanding that together we accomplish more and everyone wins. During your next staff meeting, reward the success of one of your co-workers and give him or her the credit he or she deserves — the affirmation we all desire.

With over 30 years of leadership experience, Mark Masuoka has successfully led nonprofit art organizations and businesses in achieving exceptional performance, profitability and sustainability.