3 Ways to Stop Holding Yourself Back and Be More Visible

Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t for everyone. There are expectations that you will do more outside of normal work hours. On top of that, you are also expected to be careful of other people’s wants and needs, juggle multiple projects, come up with brilliant ideas, handle your team, and so much more. Often this leads to the creation of unhelpful expectations and stories in your head that hold you back from getting the visibility you desire.

I thought I would share my top three lessons with you from the last month. I hope they help you think about what’s holding you back and how to overcome it.

  1. Put yourself first. Speaking up and advocating for yourself is a form of visibility.

You have held time for yourself to work on a project and someone else sends a meeting invite for the exact same time. Do you give your own time up to take that meeting and make the other person happy?

Although they may not want to, a people pleaser will give up their own time in a heartbeat to make others happy. Why do other people’s wants and needs matter more than their own? There is a fear of not belonging or being thought of in a negative way that overrules anything else that they may want for themselves.

If this is something that you struggle with, would you like to do something different? Are you ready to experiment with putting yourself first instead? Here is what you can do to hold your boundaries and stop people-pleasing:

  • What if you asked if this is something that you could respond to in an email since you are trying to finish this project on a deadline?
  • What if you asked how urgent this discussion is and see if it can be delayed?
  • What if you sent back an alternate time to meet without any explanation?

I know some of these things may feel uncomfortable, but it is just because you haven’t done it before.

You never considered that it would be okay to ask questions or suggest alternatives. You didn’t want to look bad or appear to push back on others. However, this means that the impact of choosing others over yourself is only felt by you. Now you have to get your work done at night when you would rather be with your family.

There are always trade-offs to be made, but it shouldn’t always be you who has to compromise your wants and needs for others. Consider this your permission slip to try a different approach. Experiment with some of these ideas. You will see how great it feels to make your own decisions about your time and what you do with it.

2. Use the right questions to change your visibility

I can remember that I had questions in meetings, but I stayed quiet. I can see now that I wanted to avoid judgment, didn’t want to be wrong or waste other people’s time and I made the assumption that the attendees probably already knew the answer and I didn’t. I would hold on to my questions and ask someone after the meeting had ended. I was avoiding visibility.

How often has this type of situation happened to you? What prevents you from asking your question? It was frustrating to me that inevitably someone else would ask the question that I had, and I would get mad at myself for not being bolder. That fear in my brain was powerful enough to take over and paralyze me. I couldn’t come up with the right questions or phrase them in a way that would sound good. The perfectionist in me didn’t want to be wrong, so I didn’t even try, and then I could stay safe. Again, I was avoiding visibility.

As I learned the importance of visibility, I shifted how I thought about these meetings and proactively prepared for them.

What questions might need to be asked? What questions could I have ready to go when I want to ask one? How can I contribute to this conversation in a bigger way? How can I give my team an opportunity to contribute if I speak up and ask for their input? How can I leverage questions that other people are asking?

If I didn’t speak up others may make bad business decisions and I couldn’t have that happen, so things started to change for me. I realized that I had the responsibility to speak up even if what I said wasn’t perfect. I had to think bigger and realize that this was about the company and our business, not me.

3. Make the most of your opportunities

In order to be more visible, you may need to make some sacrifices to your personal time. For example, when co-workers were in town, there would be dinners and happy hours that were planned that I would need to attend. These were considered good “face time” opportunities where you could connect with senior leaders and peers on a more social level to build stronger relationships.

At the time it felt like a career-limiting move if I didn’t attend. Looking back on it, I am not sure missing one happy hour would make or break my career, but that was the culture we worked in, and I created a story that it was an expectation.

The thought of attending these events would create some anxiety for me before I arrived. My introverted story started playing loudly in my head and it told me that I wasn’t good at these networking events. I tried to calm the story down by making a plan. Who did I need to connect with while I was there? What did I need to make sure that I talked to them about? I always had such a great experience when I was there, but those moments before would stress me out.

Now I can see that I created all of those unhelpful expectations and stories in my head. When I coach people in these situations now, we talk about how they can show up as themselves. There is no need to be pressured to be like everyone else. All that they need to focus on is just being in the moment and enjoying hanging out with friends and co-workers. They can be authentic, curious, and have great conversations. That is what helps them build the relationships that people remember so that they stand out from the crowd.

How are you doing at stepping up and creating visibility for yourself and/or your team? What actions could you take to increase it? If you want to set up some time to chat about your specific situation, here is the link: 30-minute conversation.

Susan M Barber, President of Susan M Barber Coaching & Consulting, LLC, works with individuals, teams, and organizations to build skills that leaders need to attain breakthrough results. Her passion for coaching and leadership development is driven by seeing the transformation of leaders as they reach far beyond their own ideas of success. She continues to drive custom programs for groups that want to make changes in their careers to become more powerful leaders.




Coaching leaders on authentic ways to show their value & create visibility for their personal brand | Leadership Coach & Consultant| http://susanmbarber.com/

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Susan M. Barber

Susan M. Barber

Coaching leaders on authentic ways to show their value & create visibility for their personal brand | Leadership Coach & Consultant| http://susanmbarber.com/

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