Visibility values: what change do you want to bring by using your voice?


Julia May

How much thinking have you done about your visibility: the impact you have when you interact with people and the change you could bring as a result of using your voice?

In our experience, people chronically underestimate their impact and influence. Even those with a huge platform and engaged audiences, such as senior leaders of influential organisations or people interviewed by or working in the media, underestimate the power of their words and presence. Let alone those who have a more targeted or more localised reach. That’s why, when we’re supporting clients to move from the first pillar of visibility (visibility to self) to the second (visibility to others), we take a pause and ask them to clarify the unique value they bring and the potential impact of being more visible… wherever that might be: in families, communities, organisations or the wider world. Enter stage right: visibility values. 

We first met Isabelle Silbery in 2018, when she was appearing in the fourth season of Gogglebox. Gogglebox is an award-winning TV program in which diverse families and households around Australia are filmed watching TV in their own lounge-rooms. We get a front-row seat to their lives, views, contexts, commentary and their responses to what they’re watching: be it a hard-hitting documentary or a superficial reality show. This quirky format enables us to gain insight into what other people really think about the issues of the day. Isabelle, a philanthropist and former TV producer, is in her mid-thirties and appears with her hilarious grandmother, Emmy, 92, and her straight-talking mother Kerry, who’s in her sixties. The women’s motivation for applying for the show was to showcase multi-generational women’s voices because they saw a huge gap in the Australian media and social commentary landscape. They do this by being utterly themselves: bringing in bawdy humour, vulnerability, intellectual curiosity and silly banter to shine a different kind of light on some of the most pressing social issues of the day. 

When we met Isabelle she knew she was passionate about a number of social issues, including toxic masculinity, domestic violence and the invisibility of women, and knew she had the opportunity to use her voice and platform in support of these issues, but wasn’t clear on how to maximise these to achieve real impact. She needed a clearly articulated purpose and vision, which we took her through; just as we’ve guided you through over the past six weeks in our Visibility Foundations program. When it was time for Isabelle to get clear on her strategy for her public visibility, we stopped and asked her what she wanted her visibility to be in service of. This was a really interesting exercise.

How visibility values differ from core values

As part of our 1:1, group and organisational programs, we guide clients through the articulation of their core values in life and leadership: those drivers of decision-making and relationships that influence everything we do, and the way we go about it. (For more on core values, read our blog on how values show up in our lives.) But visibility values are different from your core values: they’re specific to how you want to use your influence, reputation or voice, and, as in Isabelle’s case, they can actually differ from your core values. They will interact with your core values but will also form the basis for your personal brand and what you are known for. 

Isabelle’s top three core values in life are being true to self, passion and happiness. These flow through everything she does and the way she approaches relationships.

By contrast, when we walked Isabelle through the Visibility Values exercises we’ve shared in the Visibility Foundations program, some interesting themes emerged. We asked her to list the visible leaders she most admired, and to explain what she admired about them: specifically, how they show up in the world and how they use their influence. She listed a range of people including Emma Isaacs, global founder of Business Chicks; media entrepreneur Mia Freedman; NZ PM Jacinda Ardern, as well as a local friend and Isabelle’s then-partner. The qualities she admired in their visibility included “strong sense of self”, “thinking outside the square,” “humanity and humility” and “bringing people along”. Interestingly though, the shared quality that these varied people brought was helping others: they all used their profiles, influence and voice to create positive change in the spaces they operated.

This then fed into the values elicitation exercise. When asked to choose the values that most matter to her in her visibility, Isabelle listed the following:

  1. Helping others
  2. Authenticity
  3. Courage
  4. Inspiration
  5. Humour
  6. Open-mindedness

The first two values in particular raised an interesting challenge: for Isabelle, being true to herself was the biggest driver of how she lived and the decisions she made, and yet, when it came down to asking herself what value she wanted her visibility to bring, “helping others” trumped “authenticity”. This means that in settings where she’s using her voice (such as in her writing or TV work), she accepted that she would sacrifice being 100% authentic if it meant that she would be of greater service to others. This was a game-changer: making decision-making about the kinds of social posts to write, events to attend and stories to share with the wider world much, much easier. Instead of sharing everything (being true to herself), she became more selective about what she shared, in order to help others. Authenticity, courage, inspiration, humour and open-mindedness are critical elements that she brings into her visibility: watch her on Gogglebox, read some of her writing or check out her socials to see how that plays out.

So, what's next?

As we come to the end of our Visibility Foundations program, we invite you to take the first step into visibility to others using everything you’ve gathered to date: your audit insights; your purpose statement and your vision.

Now is your opportunity to dive deeper on what value you want your visibility to bring; the role you want your voice to play. Approach this exercise in two steps:

  1. Take a good look around you at visible leaders you admire and ask yourself why you admire their style, and
  2. Then think more carefully about the value in being visible; what you want it to work in service of?

Then tell us: what’s most important to you as a visible leader? What qualities are most important to bring into your leadership? What were the surprises? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to make the most of your influence and impact?

Contact us to be guided through a process to articulate your own visibility values as part of one of our individual, group or organisational programs.

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.

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