The Power of Visibility in Leadership

The key point in being recognised and noticed as a potential leader is visibility.

It makes no difference how good you are or what you have accomplished if no one knows about it. As the saying goes, ‘if you’re not visible, then you’re invisible‘.

If you want to be a leader, then the good work that you do needs to be seen, and if people are not looking, then you need to show them.

I’m not suggesting that you need to go overboard with a massive campaign of self-publicity, as that can come across as fake or arrogant, but you do need to make people aware of what you have done and what you can do.

If you don’t toot your own horn, then no one will hear your music‘, and all that good work you will have done will not help your career.

I know that many of us, myself included, are not comfortable talking about the good work that we have done or the success that we have had.

But we need to become comfortable with it if we want to progress.

For the longest time, I found it very difficult to self-promote, even though I’d had a lot of success, I thought that people would just see it and I would get the benefit of all the good work.

But there is so much going on that if we don’t highlight our own work, then much of it goes unnoticed or doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

This really came home to me when I ran a programme to save $20 million from the IT operational budget by optimising our services and eliminating waste. The project was successfully completed, and even though the saving was significant, the feedback I got on it was muted, to say the least.

Although the savings were visible in the overall budgets, which were visible to not only my boss but also his boss’s boss and even my boss’s boss’s boss, my direct boss was extremely happy, but as I was his deputy, he had no other roles to offer me, so there wasn’t much he could do. As a result, I didn’t receive much praise for this accomplishment.

All that changed, however, when the Global Senior Management meeting, which was held in a different region each quarter, came to our region.

My boss asked me to do a presentation of the project to the Global Senior Management team. They’d heard about the project, but now I had the chance to tell them how I had done it and what my involvement was.

I spoke for only 20 minutes. I talked about what we had done, how we had gone about it, the challenges we’d faced, and where the savings had come from. Then I had about 15 minutes of questions from them, going into more detail in some areas.

For the next few days, my name was a buzz; people were talking about what I had done and what would be a good next move for me, and my name was linked with several senior open positions.

While this was great, I was a little bit disappointed that it required me to stand up in front of people and tell them what I had done, because I felt that given the scale of the benefits I had delivered, they should have known.

But it doesn’t work that way!

As mentioned earlier, ‘If you don’t toot your own horn, then no one will hear your music‘.

So if you want to be a leader, then you need to start to toot your own horn. Make people aware of what you have done, publicise it, and take every opportunity to speak about or present it either internally or at external conferences.

If you don’t, then you will remain invisible, and people who have done less than you can often end up getting the job that you want just because they publicise their achievements.

Don’t be invisible; let people know who you are and what you have achieved!

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