April 18, 2022

Are You Damaging Your Career By Choosing To Be Invisible?

Do you choose to be center stage or are you more comfortable working under the radar screen?

Interestingly, Zenger Folkman recently conducted research by inviting 7065 leaders around the world to answer this question: “If you were given a choice of two special powers, which would you prefer? A. Ability to fly or B. Power to be invisible.”

With a difference of almost three to one, 72% of the leaders selected the ability to fly over being invisible (28%). When they analyzed the data by position, they discovered that 76% of top managers selected the ability to fly, as compared to only 71% of individual contributors.

One other interesting point was that those who chose the ability to fly were seen by team members as more confident.

Regardless of your position, if you wish to be seen, recognized, and sought out for your expertise, you do not have the luxury of operating behind the scenes.   Every touch point counts if you are to build a reputation that sets you up for success.  Everything you do and say represents your personal brand. If you seek to be recognized and appreciated, you will have to shift your attitude to embrace visibility as an essential component to future-proofing your career.

Here are several tips to help you showcase your visibility whether in-person or virtually with presence and impact:

KEEP YOUR CAMERA ON: If provided with the option to attend online meetings with your video turned off, do the opposite. Make sure your face is well lit and your facial expressions are pleasant. Your clothing must reflect the image you wish to present about yourself. It also demonstrates respect for your audience. If you do not wish to be on camera, upload a professional headshot to display on your profile through the meeting instead.

CHOOSE YOUR ATTITUDE: To stand out, make yourself the “uplifter”.  With so many people burning out, you will naturally be appreciated for your positivity, passion, and light-heartedness.  Come prepared with various short topics that set the tone for an engaging experience with you.  Whether you’re leading a meeting or attending, showcase your personal charisma.

PERFECT YOUR EYE CONTACT: Direct eye contact is essential for reinforcing your point even in a virtual setting. Resist the immediate temptation of scanning the people on the screen.  In your video conference, you want to look into the camera more often than at the attendees’ squares. A great tip is to begin your point looking at the eye of the camera, then scan the room but always end your point by again looking at the eye of the camera. This will increase the impact of your words as it makes people feel that you are looking at them. If you are using two screens where you must look sideways to see the attendees, share this at the onset of the meeting.  Otherwise, it will be perceived that you are giving them the cold shoulder when you turn sideways.  And you certainly don’t want anyone thinking you are watching Netflix with subtitles!!!

MASTER THE ART OF ASKING CURIOUS QUESTIONS: This is a powerful tool for exchanging ideas, building rapport, and improving interpersonal bonding. When you are not knowledgeable of the topic, asking questions shows genuine interest and grants you visibility. You naturally show others that you are present and confident to speak out. People are more responsive when you ask questions in a casual way. Choose open-ended questions which allow for a deeper conversation instead of closed-ended questions that can be answered by “yes” or “no”, potentially showing bias. Opening questions can begin with “I’m curious to know…” or – “What influenced you to…” Avoid “why” questions which might make someone feel like they are being challenged. To set the right tone, initially ask casual questions.

To quote Nelson Mandela in his inaugural speech of 1994: “As we let our own light shine, we consciously give others permission to do the same”.

What can you now be doing to take center stage?  It’s your choice!

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