New senior role = new scary levels of visibility?

One of the main things clients often struggle with when they start a new more senior role is the change in visibility.

If you are promoted within the organisation, overnight you have to mix with new peers, who were once above you, but are now your equals.  You have to find your place in a new team of leaders and demonstrate how you are ‘up to the job’.  And if you are a woman in a predominantly male environment, you can feel extra pressure to perform.

If you are joining a new organisation, you have to act appropriately for your new level and sometimes the fancy new job title feels a little surreal… the voice in your head says “Who am I to be ‘Global … Executive”??

Often you now have a bigger team and need to work out how to connect with them in meaningful and effective ways.   You are usually doing less of the actual work now and more leading, supervising and influencing.  And this too means being more visible.

So, how are you going to ‘be’ as a leader?  How will you speak up in meetings and make your voice heard?  Overall it can feel pretty scary and the introverts among us in particular will find it challenging.

One thing that can help, and also takes the pressure off, is to turn it into a ‘visibility project’.  This is something you can actively work on, monitor and assess your progress.

Here are a few ideas on how to do this:

  • Self-awareness is the first step.  Simply recognise that this step-change in visibility is happening and that you need to pay it attention rather than just wing it!
  • Remember the way you see yourself and the way others see you are two very different things.  The way you feel about something you said or didn’t say in a meeting, versus the way others received it will probably be very different, and not nearly as bad as you think!  Cut yourself some slack.
  • Be intentional about how you are going to be visible. Draw out a map of the key people you now need to interact with.  Think beyond your immediate team, manager and peers to other stakeholders in the organisation and your broader network.  Consider the state of your current relationship with each of them and how you want that relationship to be.  What is the first step you can take to building that relationship?  Plan to do it.
  • Plan ahead for important meetings.  As far as possible, think about the agenda and your initial thoughts on topics so that you are ready to contribute an idea early on.  It’s often easier to speak up early in a meeting rather than observe what is happening and then speak up.
  • Schedule time to be ‘seen’ by your team.  It might mean doing a walkabout if you are in one location, or getting on team calls or one-to-ones if you are remote.  Make sure it happens.
  • Make time to review how you are doing with your visibility.  Celebrate every small win and recognise how far you have come.

Once you break down the aspects of visibility into specific areas, you can start to work on them and monitor your progress.  It makes it less daunting and you know you are moving forward.

And as time goes by, your confidence builds, you are less nervous at the thought of that leadership meeting, you are speaking up and owning the role, and it feels good.

Hope that’s useful. I would love to know what you find challenging about visibility and how you manage it.  Let me know in the comments below.

If you would like help with a specific aspect of your own visibility, drop me an email at catherine@edenboroughcoaching.co.uk.

Have fun with your visibility project!

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