Speak the truth loudly!
I was coaching a senior professional recently. She had just taken up a role of consequence in her organization and was being exposed to a different game now.
Our first conversation began with a set of some very seemingly ‘innocent’ questions from her.
Why is it that the quality work we produce is not enough? Why do we have to speak about it? Why is there a need to publicize ourselves? What would happen if we just stayed focused on the quality work we did and let the work speak for itself?
As she asked her questions, I was smiling. I had heard these questions before – in different forms, many times earlier.
The gift and its wrapping
In order to illustrate my point, I gave her my oft-used example.
‘Assume that you and I are attending a Reception event of a dear friend’s wedding. Both of us are carrying a gift each.
I have taken an ordinary-looking stone from the roadside and painted the stone in bright colors. I have chosen an expensive wooden box and some dazzling and bright gift-wrapping paper to wrap the gift with. I have also chosen a fine silk ribbon to tie that perfect bow around the box.
In your case, you have chosen a diamond with the perfect cut, color, clarity, and carat weight. However, you have wrapped this exquisite diamond in yesterday’s newspaper – clumsy and crumpled.
When our dear friend sees both our wrapped gifts sitting next to each other, which one will she be tempted to unwrap first?’
She responded almost instantly, ‘Obviously yours!’ And then there was a pause…before she smiled. She had gotten it.
My Quote #322 says, ‘The packaging is more visible than the product. Don’t underestimate the importance of packaging.’
It is only human nature!
While my example above is a little dramatic, I raise a critical point. When it comes to our careers, if the Product is Quality Work and the Packaging is Visibility, it means that we need to focus on Quality Work AND Visibility to gain the right balance.
It is not Quality Work OR Visibility. It is Quality Work AND Visibility.
Importance of Visibility
Firstly, visibility gets others to know you. In a world with so much happening around us, it is important that people who matter know you and about you. When new projects come up or there is a talent hunt for succession planning, the opinion of those who matter is key. Conversely, you have heard of the adage, ‘Out of sight, out of mind!’
Secondly, in a world of competition, where everyone is fighting for the same resources or budget, visibility helps you argue your case for your share of those resources or budget. Visibility loads the dice in your favor.
Thirdly, your visibility directly influences the visibility of your team. Beyond a point in your career, you also represent your team. As an advocate of your team, you need to provide leverage for your team. Your visibility helps with that leverage.
However, visibility does not come easy for many people. There are some reasons.
Is visibility the same as playing office politics?
For some, visibility is the same as playing office politics. They believe that being visible means gaining undue advantage over others, manipulating others to seek favors, or playing favorites. As they believe that playing office politics is dirty and unethical, they also shun the visibility for pretty much the same reasons. They would rather have their work ‘speak for itself’.
Do you shun the arc lights?
Being publicity-shy could even be traced to family upbringing. Haven’t we heard someone in the family say, ‘Don’t blow your own trumpet!’ or ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’? Those who have been raised with such approaches feel uncomfortable under the arc lights. The glare is too much to take. They would rather prefer the shadows.
My Quote #135 says, ‘In a world of hyperbole, modesty seems worse than silence.’
Read here the case of Rakesh. His publicity-shy approach was having an adverse impact on his career.
High visibility is also a high-risk proposition
High visibility is equal to high risk…which is true. When people know very little of your existence, you are also under-exposed to risk.
Speak the truth loudly!
For those who have reservations about attracting publicity to themselves, I have only one thing to say to them: ‘Speak the truth loudly!’
I don’t expect or encourage them to lie about their accomplishments or exaggerate their achievements. They could find doing those things demeaning and beneath themselves. They just have to articulate the truth…only loudly.
Brand building and brand marketing – speak the truth loudly!
In my Coaching work, apart from other areas, I also work with individuals to help them market themselves. Based on the foregoing paragraphs, I could work with them to identify their SWOT. Using the SWOT, I could work with them on articulating their Strengths and Opportunities while advising them on working on their Weaknesses (areas of improvement) and mitigating the likely impact of their Threats.
You could also chime in when your work is speaking for itself
Even for those who are of the rigid view that their work should speak for itself, how about chiming in with your own opinion while at it? That could add to your visibility too.
Any progress is only useful
Well, I believe that we need to adapt ourselves to the changing career landscapes. As we progress in our careers, there comes a time when visibility acquires critical importance – some would even argue of the disproportionate nature of its importance. While some of us know how to hog the lights, others find it painfully difficult. Many of us are located somewhere in between.
However, how about taking visibility on as a challenge and working on it? Any progress is only useful.
PS: 8 years ago when I quit corporate life and became an entrepreneur, I needed to get my word out in the world about what I do. In my work, I am required to actively reach out to my prospective clients regularly. My writing on various platforms has also helped me immensely in building and marketing my Brand. While repeat business or word-of-mouth referrals continue to be an avenue for my business, I actively market myself through writing and other means for acquiring new clients. I regularly speak the truth loudly. And it works!
May I help you speak the truth loudly? Reach out to me at [email protected] Let’s unwrap the gift in you for the world at large.