We recently ran a Visibility for Influence program for 30 men and women from three of the country's largest scientific institutions. In this group are some of the country's most eminent thinkers and researchers on just about every aspect of climate science you can imagine.
So it stands to reason that one of their biggest worries, when it comes to visibility, is balancing their public and private reputations. What do you do when your institution holds a public position that jars with your own private position? When you want to maintain your professional reputation without compromising your authenticity? Here are our five top tips:
This will help you to articulate, in words, where any overlap or disconnects are happening between your personal views and your institution's public position - and helps to depersonalise the conversation, if you find you need to have it, with others internally.
Get really clear on your own vision for your leadership and career, to help you understand exactly where you need to be visible, and who you need to influence. It may well be that public visibility won't serve your vision; that actually, you're better placed working on your internal influence and building key relationships.
In reality, to have impact, there will often be trade-offs. Write out your non-negotiables: the aspects of yourself and your views that you're not willing to hide, and map them against the risks of sharing them more widely. Look for pros and cons but also the common ground: the areas where you feel authentic AND aligned with your institution. Thread these through your vision, ensure you're being strategic, and then practise in low-risk arenas before stepping out more publicly.
Although we sometimes forget this in professional spaces, it is really personal connection that builds strong relationships rather than our straight professional expertise. It is an advantage to choose to share elements of ourselves that foster connections with those we work with. Our interests, passions, side-hustles and hobbies all help to build relationships that are the basis of sustainable relationships and reputations.
Don't forget that when it comes to how you are visible, which parts of yourself you share and don't, you are in control. You get to choose how you do visibility and manage your public vs private reputation. There is no one size fits all. You might like to visualise it by drawing two concentric circles: which parts of you stay private (inner circle) and which are part of your public or professional profile (outer circle)?
To find out more about our visibility programs, in which we tackle some of these thorny questions, visit our events and programs page or email email@example.com.