Claiming Your Success

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Imagine this. 

You are sitting at a large meeting table with about 25 peers from across the globe, to exchange best practices of the different teams in the company’s HR department. You have just excitedly shared the awesome results of your biggest project to date – a comprehensive training program for senior management of all markets in your region.

Then you receive a text message from your boss, who is sitting across the table from you.  

“Next time, please use the word “we” more than “I”, okay?”


This happened to me, many years ago when I had just started in my role as HR director for Asia for a billion-dollar company. 

My boss, otherwise an awesome human being btw, made it very clear that I wasn’t supposed to claim the project’s success as my own, despite the fact that I had literally built it myself, without any input from him nor anyone else on my team (much to my chagrin, actually, as it had been a mammoth task!). 

I guess I should have lied and pretended it had been a collaborative effort, despite none of my team members having any idea about what the project involved up until that very moment – such had been their absence. 

I hear similar stories from my clients all the time. They get told off when they claim their success. They get slapped on the wrist when they share their accomplishments. Saying “I did this” or “I achieved that” is uncouth, un-ladylike. 

And that sucks, for many reasons. 

One, the principle of it, of course. Men don’t have this problem. They never get told off for sharing their successes and claiming their part in it. In fact, we actively encourage them from a young age to find their place in the hierarchy. In the workplace, that means that we appreciate them doing the same by claiming their success, and we reward them for it. 

Which brings me to my second reason why it sucks that as women, we cannot claim our accomplishments for ourselves. Because that same workplace – designed by men for other men and never really update to adjust to women entering it, too – REQUIRES you to share your successes. Without doing so, you will simply be overlooked and not rewarded for it. 

So, ladies, that’s a tricky tightrope to walk. On the one hand, you NEED to claim your success. On the other hand, you need to do it in a way that doesn’t antagonise anyone. It’s a really important skill though. Learning to do this will serve you in a much bigger way, career-wise, than hamster-wheeling even harder, will do – pinky promise. 

By studying the role of gender in communication and negotiation, and by experimenting myself plus through hundreds of badass corporate WINners, I have found how to do is successfully, and in a way that feels comfortable and authentic. If you want to benefit from that solid framework, let me know.


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