visibility

Naww...When Harry Met Meghan

Everyone loves a good fairytale romance.

We can't help ourselves. Whether you're a royalist or not, there is something that captures the hearts and imaginations of women the world over when a handsome young prince plucks his beautiful princess-to-be from amongst the 'commoners'.

It gives us hope that one day it might happen to us (or is that just me!)

It is true fairytale stuff.

And it annoys me that a Prince-Harry-engages-actress-Meghan-Markle story evokes this response in me. It tells me that, despite everything - despite the fact that I have created all I have in my life, despite the fact that I have been quietly determined to achieve a life and career I love - deep down, I am conditioned to desire to be scooped up and rescued.

It is conditioning.

Joseph Campbell, an American mythologist and writer of the 20th century, studied the stories of all the cultures in the world and identified there was a common theme - a story of a restless young person, called to a purpose, who faces struggle, and personal demons, and ultimately conquers. The theme appears in Bambi, Luke Skywalker, Greek mythology - it's the basic premise of just about every story ever written, spoken or shot on film...and none of these heroes are women.

You see, women wait.

In this scenario, women feature as mothers, wives, or daughters, waiting for the hero to return victorious. Women have waited for centuries - waiting for husbands and sons to return from war; waiting to be rescued by a prince or a knight in shining armour, waiting for Dad to 'fix' things...

And we're still waiting...

We have made great advances so that we can choose, to a large extent, how we desire to live and work, and yet:

  • We wait for our good work to be recognised, rather than actively being more visible, or asking for a promotion.
  • We wait for the company to pay for our personal and career development, rather than proactively making learning and growing a lifelong mission. (Really? Your own personal development is someone else's responsibility?)
  • We wait for a raise to be offered before actively asking for one.
  • Sometimes, we'll even stay in an unhappy or dysfunctional relationship or job because we're waiting for something (the kids to grow up, the mortgage to be paid off, etc).

So I urge you to STOP WAITING.

Write your own story and be your own hero and inspiration.

How are you waiting in your life and career? What are you waiting for? What obstacles are you putting up that are really just excuses in disguise?

If you'd like help to break down the barriers you've created to living and working as you desire, book a call and let's discuss where you are now, where you want to be in the future, and how to get you there. 

"You're gonna hear me ROAR!"

Sing it. LOUD.

Katy Perry writes:

You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder, gonna shake your ground

I facilitated a workshop recently for a corporate client. Composition was around 20% women - a high percentage for this particular male-dominated sector of a male-dominated industry.

Seven strong, competent women - experts in their field, outspoken on a small group basis, and in reporting back on group work, but in the larger group....

NOTHING.

Not a peep.

Granted, there were a number of men who weren't vocal also, but it wasn't 100% of the gender representation.

That's what struck me - these strong, expert women, with passionate opinions and ideas about their business had earned a position in this global group, and 100% of the representation did not make themselves heard.

I am prepared to admit that perhaps I am holding women to a higher standard of behaviour to be vocal in a wider audience - I'm that passionate about seeing women become more visible to themselves and others. I urge them to do so every chance I get.

If I look at this purely focused on the male audience, 43.5% of them said nothing in the larger group, and for the most part, it was because their English was not at a comfortably fluent level.

All but two of the women had NO English language challenges.

Photo by  Pawan Sharma  on  Unsplash

Photo by Pawan Sharma on Unsplash

This seems to be about being visible. A lot of women still have challenges being seen and heard by others, because they are not being seen and heard by themselves.

The hard grind of getting to this level of leadership has been done - you've beaten off competition, all the -isms you've crossed, and now you're there at the top. It continues but you're more accomplished at it now. So now is the time to try doing things differently to be more effective and get your ideas out there.

It's also about safe environments (this WAS a relatively safe environment, though perhaps I felt it better than the audience - pause for reflection for me). Creating a safe environment where everyone's ideas are heard and appreciated is paramount to effective team work.

I saw a statistic last week that was thought-provoking - 70% of the ideas are delivered by something like less than 5% of the people in an audience. How can diversity of ideas be aired with those kind of statistics?

There is also the argument that not everyone is an extrovert who needs to be heard. I get that too. Does that mean that 100% of the representation were introverts? Perhaps - it's possible, given the small sample.

If you want different results, you MUST do things differently - "what got you here won't get you there" - and that includes learning to be seen and heard.

SO go all Katy Perry on your damn-self, and ROAR!

I'd love to know your thoughts on this. Let me know by responding!

PS Need help learning to ROAR? We can do it step by step so you will be heard, listened to, and you and your ideas will be taken seriously, introvert or not. Book a call

Here's What You Need to Be a LEADER

Want to know the secret sauce of success? Click to learn what personal leadership is and how stepping into it can create the success in life & work that you desire.

More nuggets coming up about personal leadership! I've got a lot to share with you on the topic, and how embracing it can change your life and career!

Bisous x

What Are You Resisting?

"Your resistance to playing the game means you're out of the game"

I read this in a relationship coach's blog - it was with reference to the dating game. If you're resisting putting yourself out there, you're taking yourself out of the game of ever meeting someone; but it got me thinking...

What else could this be a reference to?

For a lot of people, including myself, being visible is an area where there is resistance - resistance to taking centre stage (preferring to lurk in the shadows or being the best damn 2IC but never stepping into the spotlight of leadership); not putting yourself out there in so many ways  - creating an extraordinary life and work, marketing yourself (or 'self-promotion' which is considered negatively), dating and relationships.

For me, I am conflicted. While I enjoy being centre stage at some level (I love public speaking and I used to do amateur dramatics), putting myself out there in my capacity as a coach challenges me. It makes me uncomfortable. Good God - what if people judge me?! (The horror!)

And being uncomfortable is exactly what we must strive for in order to effect change and to get different results.

"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" Commonly attributed to Albert Einstein.

So what resistance do you feel?

What makes you uncomfortable?

How would it benefit you to feel uncomfortable more frequently?

What does the phrase bring up for you?

Tall Poppies

poppy-186635_640.jpg

I had a session last week with a client that raised something interesting that I know a lot of women struggle with.

This woman is enormously capable at her job and her team appreciates her as an authentic, fair-minded leader who "gets shit done". She is respected by her stakeholders - their harsh treatment of her at times is actually recognition they are just a little bit scared of how capable she is. The outcome she wanted from the session was to get clarity on her next role and how to prepare for it - define the role, the type of organisation and what she needs to get there. She determined that she wants to be a department head in a strategic role. In our discussions, she related that she finds it difficult to be recognised for the great work she does, relying only on her boss to share the good news of what she and her team have done. For her and her team, there is only one route to 'glory' and recognition within the organisation. When I pressed her about this, she said that she hated self-promotion - the tone she used was clear. She did not care to be seen as arrogant; a 'peacock' making much of her achievements, preferring instead to let her great work speak for itself.

Noble, but naive. Promotions come to those 60% as a result of exposure, 30% as a result of image and a disturbing 10% as a result of the work you do, according to Harvey Coleman in his book, Empowering Yourself: The Organisational Game Revealed. Competition is hot, not just in getting a job, but in staying in one, and getting the next one. By not giving thought to getting her name out there, my client does herself a disservice. There may be cultural influences at play as well - it is recognised that the British and many of the Commonwealth countries can down-play achievement. In New Zealand and Australia, we even have a name for this - Tall Poppy Syndrome; where the tall poppy that grows above the rest is chopped down to size by its peers.

When did visibility become so negatively nuanced as self-promotion? Unfortunately, it is not enough to do fantastic work if you want a promotion. There are a lot of people doing fantastic work, and sadly, a lot who are not, but if they have their visibility game on better than you, then who is going to get that position before you? Visibility does not have to be all about self-promotion of one's achievements; it is about building relationships of trust and raising your profile. There are a number of things you can do to increase your visibility in an authentic way without being the arrogant peacock with little substance to support it.

Get Visible

  • Find a sponsor: A sponsor is someone influential in the company who respects you and your work, believes in you and will be prepared to put your name forward for opportunities, speak about you, raise your profile in the organisation. They may or may not be a mentor, but mutual trust and respect is imperative.

  • Find a mentor: Apart from the personal and career development you can gain from a mentor, they are another set of eyes on your performance who can share that with others, and keep their ear to the ground for opportunities;

  • Network: I have yet to meet someone who enjoys networking; but try thinking of it this way - it is about building relationships with people, connecting with them on a personal level that may also mutually benefit you by advancing your careers. Single-mindedly going at it heartlessly to add as many names to your list of connections, focusing only what you can get out of that person will never be enjoyable.

  • Dress for success: Women have a challenge in the workplace - how to be feminine but corporate, how to stand out but not flashy or brassy, how to convey you are an individualist and think differently without being considered high risk. There is a lot to write and be said about this, and I will do so in later posts, but dress like you mean it - like you are serious about your role. Whether we like it or not, we are all judged on how we look - it takes 11 seconds to make an impression on someone. Make it a good one.
  • Volunteer: Get yourself involved in initiatives within and without the workplace, whether it is internal employee resource groups, social club, or externally, industry groups, and charities. The more people you engage with the better.
  • Ask someone to introduce you: Don't be afraid to ask a connection or colleague to introduce you to someone of influence. The worst that can happen is they'll say no; and if you're worried about whether your connection or colleague will judge you...well, they're judging you already, so leap in!
  • Engage with Senior Management: Don't wait for your manager to make the connection for you. Find an opportunity to engage with senior management, even if it is a short lift conversation. It doesn't even have to be an 'Elevator Pitch' - remember, it is about building relationships first. Ask a question at the next Town Hall. Agree to present to the C-suite. Chat with the COO about something other than work at Friday drinks.
  • Accept invitations: Whether it is social or at work, the magic of this world is that you never know who you're going to meet. Imagine being invited to dinner by an acquaintance only to find the CEO has popped around too! These informal social occasions are priceless.
  • Be active on LinkedIn: Like, comment, post, update your status, change your profile pic often. Whatever you think of it, LinkedIn is used by headhunters, recruiters, employers and colleagues to understand who you are, what you've done and what you're doing. By being active on LinkedIn, you appear in your connections' feeds, automatically raising your profile to potentially millions; and of course, hand in hand with being active...
  • Update your profile: These days, it is just lame to have an outdated profile or no photo. It means you are not serious about your career or advancement. Even if you are not a heavy or frequent user of technology, when it comes to your career, a well-written and presented profile is essential.

So get out there - embrace visibility! It doesn't need to be a negative experience.

Would love to hear other visibility tips if you have them. Comment below.