5 tips to balance your public and private reputations


Visibility Co

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)?

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 hello@visibilityco.com.

About Visibility Co.

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.

Find out more

More Blogs

A perfect marriage: how to bring together organisational and communications strategies

If there’s one thing we’ve seen get in the way of senior leaders managing change this year, it’s underestimating the relationship between core or organisational strategy and communications strategy - with huge impacts to time, resourcing and outcomes. Here’s how to make both strategies thrive so that the sum of the two becomes greater than the parts.

Read more
The audacious vision that drives Visibility Co

Vision is an integral part of the work we do; the cornerstone of every strategy we create, and it’s the one part of our own strategic process that we never scrimp on.

Read more