- Do you ever notice that some individuals in your organisation get more opportunities than you, even though you’re just as smart and well qualified?
- Do you find it’s often the pushiest people who get promoted, regardless of capability?
- Is if often the loudest voices which get heard?
When you want to progress your career, it’s important to know how to increase your visibility and impact. The good news is you don’t need to work harder, shout louder or become someone you’re not to do so, but you do need a plan.
This article explores the ‘secret sauce’ that successful leaders share, to help you step up to the next level.
What can you do to stand out?
In today’s highly competitive environment, strong leadership branding often makes the biggest difference. A personal brand that cements your position as a leader.
It’s important to build your leadership brand both online and offline, especially when many interactions are via video call so you can’t walk the corridors or orchestrate a ‘spontaneous’ conversation.
What is a leadership brand?
We’re not talking about your company logo, colours and fonts. We each have a personal brand identity. In a nutshell, it’s your reputation: who you are, what you’re known for, and how people experience you.
So if you’re honest, what do people say about you when you’re not there?
- She’s the one who sits in the corner and doesn’t contribute
- He always has great ideas about…
- They’re the expert at…
- He’s a party animal, not serious about work
- She’s so inspirational, a real trailblazer!
To find out how you’re perceived, ask colleagues, team members, managers, family and friends to describe your strengths, personal qualities and opportunities for improvement and notice what themes emerge.
Building your leadership brand
If you want to develop your leadership brand, it’s up to you to ensure that the way people experience you is authentic and consistent with how you want to be seen.
First, consider who you are now and who you’d like to be at these five levels: brand attributes, personal qualities, values, passion and purpose.
- Brand attributes: What do people see on the surface? What are your unique skills and main achievements?
- Personal qualities: What are your in-built personality traits?
- Values: What are your underlying beliefs and philosophies?
- Passions: What drives you?
- Purpose: What’s your vision? Where are you going? What would you like to achieve?
Next, identify the top three audiences you want to attract (recognising that you will never be able to please all the people all the time). These may be groups of people or specific individuals. How can you create opportunities to talk with them?
Find out what they care about, the opportunities and challenges they face. Consider their communication style. Then consider which facet of your authentic self is the closest fit? This helps you to prepare what you say and how you say it in a way that’s most likely to resonate with them.
Natalie Haverstock, AKA Miss Ballooniverse, runs a company that delights people with their balloon creations. She’s the most magnetic person I know. But when I interviewed her, I was surprised to hear that she hasn’t always been that way. “When I was a child, I went through a phase of crippling shyness. It really was the most awful feeling, that I was being negatively scrutinised by the whole world. Then one day, I was in a room where I saw someone else who looked extremely shy. It was a revelation to me that other people could have that same feeling, and I realised that I could put other people at ease.
So how does she do it? For a start, it’s not just about the balloons. Natalie and her team of Balloonistas all dress in bright, 50s style dresses with waspish waists and big skirts that powerfully attract attention. But the key is her demeanour. As she puts it: “A smile is a must. Coupled with plenty of eye contact, which makes you approachable. Try to find the common denominator, ask questions, be genuinely interested. Every gathering is an opportunity to make new friends and network, so make the most of it!”
Enhancing your magnetism
Having identified the leadership brand you’d like to know for, the next step is to think about how to radiate your brand in a way that captures attention.
Picture someone who shuffles into the room, avoiding eye contact. When you talk to them, they moan about other people, or the journey, or the environment, or they put themselves down. Even if they do this humorously, this is unlikely to be a person who’s fun to be around for long.
The good news is that you can turn the power of your magnetism up or down, depending on what you want people to see, hear or feel in your presence.
To attract attention, grow your visibility and increase your impact, you need to beam out a positive energy, which attracts people to you and makes you compelling and memorable.
Think how you enter a room. Do you light it up with your smile? Do you sparkle and ignite sparks in those around you?
Notice what people see, hear and feel when you arrive. Do you greet them warmly? Give out compliments? Express your verve and va-va-voom?
Be aware of how you say the things you say. Are you excited and passionate? Do you fizz with life? Do you exude positivity?
Jan was shy and his body language showed it. When he met his boss in a corridor, he would be too scared to speak. He attended one of my Gravitas Masterclasses where I got participants to try out different poses and explore how physicality can display status.
Jan’s natural stance was ‘low status’; even though he was relatively tall, his stature and gestures made him appear small. When Jan tried a high-status pose: feet apart, shoulders back, head up, stomach in, breathing slowly, speaking deeply, allowing pauses, his voice came out more loudly, and he lost his fear of talking to his boss. By practicing in this safe environment, Jan realised that he had the power to influence how other people saw him, and grew in confidence as a result.
Increase your visibility. Accelerate your success
In a highly competitive environment, leadership branding is more important than ever. To define your USP and articulate your message with confidence and credibility, attend Antoinette’s next Gravitas course, based around the proven methodology in her book, Leading with Gravitas. Alternatively, check out her comprehensive Leadership branding coaching programme or book a private executive coaching session.