At work, women are encouraged to build their personal brand and make themselves more visible by actively participating in meetings, asking questions, and expressing their views. However, for many women this can present a challenge and striking a balance between being authentic and gaining visibility can be a delicate process. In this article, we will explore ways to navigate visibility at work while staying true to your authentic self, especially if you identify as a quiet achiever or an introvert.
1. Understand the Importance of Speaking Up:
Acknowledge that there are critical meetings where your voice needs to be heard. Identify these occasions when it is essential to contribute and share your thoughts. Recognise the value you bring to these discussions and understand that your input can positively impact outcomes.
2. Define Your Authenticity Spectrum:
Recognise your comfort zone and your authenticity spectrum. Understand that pushing yourself beyond your natural inclination may impact your overall wellbeing and productivity, even though at times it is necessary to stretch your comfort zone. Be discerning about when it is necessary to speak up and when it is acceptable to observe and listen.
3. Prioritise Critical Meetings:
Be intentional and conscious about participating in meetings that are crucial for your growth or where important stakeholders are present. These are the situations where being heard can make a significant difference, and where your presence is critical to support your personal brand. Prepare in advance and gather your thoughts to ensure your contributions are meaningful.
4. Find Strategic Ways to Contribute:
Consider alternative ways to contribute when you feel uncomfortable speaking up. Focus on areas where you can provide value, such as supporting others, connecting different ideas, or contributing to the process. Identify how you can make a positive impact without compromising your authenticity.
5. Leverage One-on-One Interactions:
Recognise that not all visibility needs to happen in large meetings. Take advantage of one-on-one conversations and build meaningful connections with colleagues and leaders. These interactions can offer an opportunity to express your ideas more comfortably and create lasting relationships.
6. Embrace Your Unique Strengths:
Women often possess excellent listening and observation skills. Embrace these strengths and use them to your advantage. Your ability to empathise and analyse situations from different perspectives, and your emotional intelligence, can bring valuable insights to discussions and enhance your visibility.
7. Prepare and Practice:
When you anticipate a critical meeting or a situation where visibility is important, prepare in advance. Research and gather relevant information to boost your confidence. Practice articulating your thoughts and opinions, even if it is through rehearsing with a trusted colleague or mentor.
8. Seek Support from Allies:
Build a network of supportive allies who understand and appreciate your authentic self. Seek guidance from mentors or colleagues who can provide advice and encouragement. Their support can boost your confidence and provide insights on how to navigate visibility without compromising your introverted nature.
9. Reflect and Recharge:
Acknowledge the importance of self-care and reflection. After participating in meetings or events that require visibility, take time to recharge and rejuvenate. If you thrive in smaller or quiet spaces, restore yourself with solitude and quiet introspection, and ensure you create space for self-care to maintain your well-being.
Finding the balance between visibility and authenticity can be challenging, but it is achievable with conscious effort and self-awareness. Embrace your unique strengths, contribute strategically, and prioritise critical moments where your voice can make a difference. Remember, your authentic self has tremendous value to offer, and by navigating visibility thoughtfully, you can thrive both personally and professionally.
Tips for Leaders: Being Consciously Inclusive of All Team Members
1. Foster an inclusive environment that values diverse contributions and recognises the strengths of individuals who prefer to let their work speak for itself (particularly women). Encourage different communication styles and ensure that quieter voices are heard and respected.
2. Provide multiple avenues for quieter employees to contribute. Offer opportunities for written communication, one-on-one meetings, or smaller discussion groups where they can comfortably express their ideas and make valuable contributions.
3. Lead by example by demonstrating the value of listening and considering different perspectives. Encourage active participation while appreciating those who may prefer a more introverted approach. Emphasise the importance of results and impact rather than solely focusing on outward visibility.
4. Encourage authenticity among your team members. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable being their authentic selves and can focus on the quality of their work and the value they bring. Celebrate achievements and contributions, regardless of the level of visibility attached to them.
5. Provide supportive mentorship opportunities for quieter employees. Offer guidance on navigating visibility while staying true to their authentic selves. Help them identify ways to leverage their strengths and find success in their own unique way.
6. Recognise and amplify the achievements of quieter employees. Celebrate their contributions publicly and within the organisation to ensure their work is acknowledged and appreciated.
7. Foster collaboration and teamwork by creating opportunities for quieter or introverted employees to contribute their expertise in group settings. Encourage an environment where everyone’s contributions are valued, regardless of their preferred communication style.
8. Provide spaces where employees can recharge and gather their thoughts. Respect the need for reflection and solitude as part of their working style. Designate quiet areas or times where they can focus and thrive.
9. Support the development and growth of quieter employees by offering resources and opportunities tailored to their communication styles and preferences. Provide training and workshops on effective communication, networking, and building relationships that accommodate different working styles.
10. Seek regular feedback from your team to understand their needs and preferences when it comes to visibility and recognition. Use this feedback to continually improve and create a work environment that supports the success of all employees, regardless of their communication style.
By implementing these detailed tips, leaders can create a workplace culture that embraces different communication styles and allows individuals to excel while remaining true to their authentic selves.