In my last article published on Nov. 7, 2022, I shared three tips for transforming from an invisible professional to an influential leader. I shared my personal experience of feeling invisible and the way it showed up for me during meetings. Your experience may be different, but feeling invisible can affect your confidence, self-esteem and the way you “show up” in the workplace.
Whatever your career goals are, you should strive to be influential. Adding value and being recognized for your contributions is on the path of becoming an influential professional or leader. If you can do this, as your true authentic self, that’s icing on the cake.
Here are three additional tips for transforming from an invisible professional to an influential leader.
Tip No. 1: Establish Your Personal Leadership Brand
What is your personal leadership brand? If you have not thought about your brand, one place to start is asking yourself, “What are people saying about me when I’m not in the room?” There are many professionals that leave their leadership brand up for chance instead of intentionally and strategically working on it. Your brand lends to your reputation and what you’re known for.
When I was sitting in meetings quietly, that behavior was a tarnish against my leadership brand. I had built a brand of being dependable and adding value, yet the behavior I started exhibiting was not positive for my leadership brand. I’m sure it caused confusion with my colleagues, because this was not behavior that they recognized when they interacted with me. Once the invisible behavior ended, I had some work to do with rebuilding my brand.
Do you know what your leadership brand is? Are you comfortable asking your manager what other managers say about you and the quality of your work? Ask your manager for feedback on your leadership brand.
Tip No. 2: Practice Having a Strategic Mindset
When I entered the management ranks, I had a hard time transitioning from thinking about my department in relation to the bigger picture. Strategic thinking did not come naturally to me. I had to intentionally work on it and build it like a muscle.
I started by having an honest conversation with my manager, telling her that I needed to develop a strategic mindset and that I wanted her help. She accepted the challenge. She started including me in strategic meetings when applicable, or she would share details from strategic meetings so I could ask questions and get a better understanding. The more I had opportunities to practice strategic thinking, the easier it came to me. I was strengthening that muscle.
Is strategic thinking one of your strengths? If it is, what opportunities are available to you to practice it? If strategic thinking is not your strength, what can you do to intentionally develop this skill, inside or outside of the organization?
Tip No. 3: Effectively Build Genuine Relationships
Building relationships can be the make or break to career success. Why? If you have not built relationships, how are you getting your job done? We don’t live or work in a bubble. Oftentimes what we do daily impacts someone else, whether it’s a co-worker, boss or client. Why not genuinely build relationships with people that you work with?
Building relationships can make a difference if someone speaks up for you when you’re not in the room. A relationship can assist you with getting an opportunity that you may not have had without the relationship. Now, it works both ways. How can you serve others? Are there things you can do to help someone who you are building a relationship with?
In the HR field, building relationships is crucial. As I reflect on my career, I believe the No. 1 thing that helped me move up the corporate ladder is my ability to build relationships with people. When you open up and you’re perceived as being approachable to others, you never know what nice surprise (and hidden gem) connection you’ll discover in the workplace.
Is it critical for you to build relationships in your role and career? If it is, how do you build these relationships, and what are you doing to nurture them? Is this an area that you struggle with? If it is, find someone in the organization who can assist you.
As a recap, the three tips shared in Part 1 of this leadership series are:
- Get clarity on your values
- Build credibility, do your homework, master your craft
- Find a way to show your value
My hope is these six tips will assist you on the journey of shifting from invisible to influential. The tips are from my book, “Invisible Professional to Influential Leader,” where I share 25 tips for leading authentically with confidence. While my tips can be applied to careers of all types, I hope they help you find actionable steps to take your CME journey to the next level.
Lisa Anderson is a chief HR officer (CHRO) for a technology company and the president of Positively in Pursuit, LLC. She is a certified leadership/career coach who also has 25 years of HR experience. Her coaching business focuses on women in leadership who want to intentionally work on finding their leadership voice, building their leadership courage, and increasing their leadership (executive) presence so that they can propel their careers. Her book "Invisible Professional to Influential Leader" is a leadership tip book for women leaders who want to lead confidently and authentically. Lisa holds a master’s degree in human resource management from Troy State University and a BBA (Bachelors of Business Administration) degree from James Madison University. She holds several HR certifications. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC), certified in Energy Leadership (ELI-MP) and a member of the John Maxwell Team of speakers and trainers.