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5 tips to balance your public and private reputations
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:
1. Be clear on your values
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.
2. Be strategic
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.
3. Get clear on the trade-offs of visibility
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.
4. The professional is personal
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.
5. You get to choose
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)?
Working at the intersection of leadership, strategy and visibility, we seek to be strategic provocateurs and catalysts of systemic change, supporting you to unleash the potential within so you can create a better world from wherever you are.
While we’re not big on labels, we’re often referred to as social impact and communications strategists, or strategic leadership advisors, or visibility experts.
Fancy words for a business, led by Julia May and Sarah Anderson, that brings together purposeful leadership, strategy and communications in truly integrative and innovative ways.
We see everyday that every single one of us has barriers to visibility, and there are some common ones we hear regularly. The great thing is, when you're able to sit in a safe space with other purposeful people with huge potential, you get to hear that everyone has these hang-ups. We mean everyone.
One thing that consistently amazes us in the work we do is how even the most accomplished, capable leaders underestimate their own potential and influence. It often takes us holding a mirror up to them, and describing them back to themselves as we see them - or challenging them to be bolder in their visioning, for them to see what’s possible for their own impact and career.
We acknowledge the Traditional Owners — the Kulin Nations, particularly the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung, and Wadawurrung people — upon whose ancestral lands we live and work. We pay respect to their Elders, past, present and emerging, and acknowledge the pivotal role that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within the Australian community. Sovereignty was never ceded.