Once upon a time there was a noble and humble king who ruled a magnificent kingdom. He worked hard, treated people fairly, and made wise decisions. Yet, he rarely held court with his subjects or rallied his troops with inspirational speeches. And the people grew cold toward him. Not because he was a bad king, but rather, because he was unknown and seemed uncertain. The people didn’t know what he stood for or where he might lead them.
A king from a different land saw the magnificent kingdom and challenged the good king. The challenger traveled the land, promising more of everything to the people and adventures to the troops. And the magnificent kingdom and our good king were in peril.
It seems so unfair, doesn’t it? So avoidable on the good king’s part?
And yet, I see this happening among many of our clients today. Great leaders — hardworking, visionary, effective — yet uncomfortable talking about themselves, their vision, and their accomplishments. It’s the seemingly tricky skill of raising visibility versus feeling like bragging.
Most leaders eventually get comfortable sharing their vision but still push back against talking (or posting) about themselves and their accomplishments. No one wants to be disliked or thought of as a braggart. And most of us were brought up to believe you shouldn’t talk about yourself; your hard work should speak for itself.
Visibility Matters (and Your Silence Speaks Volumes)
However, it’s almost impossible to sustain successful progress if people can’t see you. The absence of a strong, highly visible, personal brand impacts multiple aspects of business:
- It shortchanges your business because you miss opportunities, and the company can’t grow as fast as it could.
- You shortchange yourself in a similar way — you don’t get the opportunities you deserve (jobs, board offers) and are qualified for.
- You have to work harder for the same results as someone with a strong brand.
- You shortchange your customers because they don’t get their problems solved.
- It’s harder to attract great employees. There are people who would love to work for you, but they haven’t heard about you.
Raising your visibility isn’t bragging; it’s essential to business. Successful leaders must overcome their objections about promoting themselves and their accomplishments, so shareholders — customers, partners, investors, employees — will trust them and invest — time, money, talent — in the leader’s business or cause.
Visibility Is NOT — 3 Misconceptions
Executive coach and ProResource partner Matthew Cooke and I discussed this in a recent LinkedIn Live event, and we suggest that leaders start with a perspective shift. Let’s quickly clarify three misconceptions about visibility:
#1 It’s not about you. It’s about the people you can help.
The point of sharing and posting isn’t to boast or be egoistic. When you stay focused on giving and helping, you’ll find it much easier to put yourself out there. As another of our partners likes to say, “People don’t care about you [as in, how you look on video or in a photo]. They care about themselves and their problems. If you can help solve those problems, you need to get out there and do it.” No matter how good your company is, you can’t help people or hire them if they don’t know you exist.
#2 Being in the spotlight doesn’t mean it’s all about you.
As CEO, you have an automatic platform — use your power for good. You can make it all about your team, your customers, your partners. Reflect the light onto others, which makes them feel good.
#3 It’s not optional.
Apologies for the tough love, but when you are the CEO, this is part of your job. It might not be your favorite part, but it’s your responsibility to be the face of the company. Your investors, partners, and employees are counting on you. Not participating means you’re hiding, and hiding means you aren’t doing your job.
Visibility Is — 5 Practical Tips
Raising your visibility may feel risky and vulnerable, especially as you begin. As with all marketing, start with goals (What do you want to achieve by sharing and posting?) and strategically execute a plan that reflects you and your company culture. Here are some tips to get started:
#1 Get Really Clear on Your Mission and Values
If you haven’t yet done the work of clarifying your organization’s or your own mission, vision, and values, do it now. Plaster that information across your computer or your desk so it is readily visible, because it not only displays the message to other people, it also reinforces it to you. It reminds you of who you are, how you’re showing up in the world, how you’re supporting people, and how you’re making the impact that you’re trying to make.
#2 Cast a Wide Net
Voice your personal vision and message, of course, but share your spotlight with other leaders and significant members of your business. Make sure your brand matches the diversity and depth of your company. What makes your team uniquely qualified to serve your customers? Why is your company different from its competitors? Who are you partnering with to better serve your customers, so they can better serve their customers? How are your customers successful because they are working with you?
#3 Awards & Achievements Reflect the Quality of Your Work
Maybe even your character — and both are worthy of noting publicly. If you and/or your team have won awards for your work, post them on your LinkedIn profile and company page, find an appropriate place for them on your website, and when timely, share them as news.
Achievements — completed projects, raising a round, expanding to new territory — demonstrate that your company is successful. Sharing milestones — years in business, number of customers served, employees hired, significant promotions — show shareholders that the company is growing and dynamic. Share this content to establish credibility and build enthusiasm.
#4 Find Your Medium or Use Them All
Social media offers so many ways to share your message. Videos quickly create excitement and energy around a post, and people are making them in so many different formats (polished, organic, long, short, animated, and more). Posts — both with and without images. Polls, interesting graphic treatments (that don’t require a tremendous amount of an artist’s time), surveys — find the medium you feel most comfortable with and use it. Or, keep it interesting and try different formats.
#5 Develop a Strategic Calendar for Content and Consistency
When you start working on what you want to say, who you want to say it to, and how to say it, I think you’ll be surprised by how much content you have and can generate. Map a calendar with scheduled posting to build momentum and consistency.
High visibility isn’t optional for CEOs who want sustained success. Now is the time to lay aside any beliefs that limit you or your company.
And if you’d like to jumpstart your visibility building with a session with Matthew, contact me through LinkedIn or at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll connect you with him. I look forward to seeing more of you!