Continuing my migration of posts to this new site I came across one of my favorite posts on leadership. It resonated well with me having recently completed my team’s annual reviews. In the discussion with one of my more “back room” team members, it became apparent to me that I was slipping a bit on applying this methodology. He and his team were doing great work and producing strong results that went unnoticed beyond me. I am confident that I was communicating my awareness and gratitude to them, but I wasn’t doing a good enough job sharing their efforts up the chain and laterally. I have added a few edits and edited the actions slightly from the perspective of my new role in the parent company vs. a division, but in the end, the message still rings true. Your team needs you to be both their cheerleader and their promoter. Here is the slightly edited post. Thanks for reading. I hope you will join me on the journey by subscribing below.


A point of balance that requires a leader’s attention revolves around producing results and then making those results known upwards in the organization. Unfortunately, you cannot just churn out results and always expect them to receive the right level of recognition without a little promotion on your part. I spent quite a few years early in my career plugging away at overperforming and creating value with a purist attitude that the efforts of myself and my teams should just be recognized without any promotion on my part. I considered the promotion of my team’s accomplishments “flag waving”. This stance didn’t put me all the way down in the “martyr” circle of the included above matrix, but it most certainly had both myself and my team in the “productive but frustrated” quadrant.

Over the years I realized that just being productive wouldn’t be enough. I was going to have to call out both the current and planned achievements of my team for them to receive the recognition they deserved. My first responsibility as a leader was to be their biggest advocate, cheerleader, and PR person.

  • Now be careful – you can go too far as depicted in the matrix above.
    • You have to balance your team’s productivity with the level of promotion you apply to their accomplishments. It’s not a 1:1 ratio or you are just a “flag waver.” Focus more on productivity and then with the increased momentum start talking them up. Be justified in your promotion.
  • Promotion without productivity results in being nothing more than a politician.
    • All rhetoric and no results?  We have enough of that in D.C. – Stop talking and MAKE SOMETHING HAPPEN!
  • Simply flying under the radar with neither productivity nor promotion?
    • Make sure you don’t lose those photos, or you are going to lose your job!


Here is one way I promote my team a minimum of twice a year (there are many others I will share later).  I recommend you do some version of the same for your team’s sake.  At the middle and end of the fiscal year, I send my team what is basically a #YearinReview (or #midyearinreview) thanking them for all their hard work and accomplishments.  I list a sampling of their accomplishments thus far for the mid-year or in total for the year-end communication.  I also list a sampling of our agreed-to plans for future success reminding them of where we are headed and how we intend to maintain the momentum.

Now here’s the trick – it’s complex – pay attention – you may need to print this out to refer back to as you attempt this for yourself.   Are you ready?

I copy my boss and his boss on this communication. 2022 Update: I did exactly this when I first wrote this post, but I was in a company division where I interacted with my boss’s boss quite regularly. At times it felt like I reported to him rather than my actual boss and I consider him one of my few mentors, so this made sense. In my new position in the parent company, I don’t have that same relationship. We have only had a few short interactions. Copying my boss’s boss doesn’t fit the same, so I must trust my boss to advocate for myself and my team. It’s important that you respect the chain of command and do not appear to just be engaged in self-promotion. Use common sense when deciding who you include in your communication as described below in the original post. The most important part is to let your team know that you sincerely have their back and appreciate their efforts.

It’s that simple.  The main purpose of the communication is to let my team know that I recognize everything they do and am grateful for their efforts.  If you don’t honestly feel that way, then don’t do this or the insincerity will be very apparent.  The copy to my boss and his is secondary to the true purpose.  And never copy further than one step above your own manager.  You most likely don’t have much interaction higher than that, and honestly, it will just appear creepy and absolutely self-serving.  If there is a reason for it to go higher up the chain, it will be forwarded by them.  That is if they are a good leader and promote their teams.

Where would you currently place yourself on the matrix?

Have you thanked and promoted your team lately? If not, do it because they have earned it!

If you won’t be their advocate, who will?

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