Protect your professional reputation. Why you must stop doing and start leading.
What is your professional reputation? Are you known for your exceptional leadership skills or are you known as someone who can be relied on to get the job done?
Sadly too many women are being overlooked and missing out on the best opportunities because they get caught up “doing” the work.
Yes the work they do is to the highest standard but that isn’t what will get them seen, heard and valued as an effective senior leader.
The people who get paid the most, get the most interesting opportunities and receive the most recognition are not the worker bees! They are those who focus on creating effective strategies that deliver on the business objectives, drive high performing teams to deliver key KPI’s and are known for their big picture view of the business challenges.
I recently worked with Gillian, a talented, ambitious leader who had carved out a hugely successful career. But then something went wrong. Her career stalled.
Well to be honest… her career progress had not only stalled … it had actually taken a backwards step. And with it her pride, commitment and joy evaporated.
After a little digging to diagnose the problem it all came down to her professional reputation.
Even though she had a track record of being a strategic leader who could engage a diverse team to deliver on complex projects… somewhere along the way she had developed a reputation as a “doer.”
She now found her days filled with preparing contracts, tender documents and completing tasks that no-one else apparently had the skills to do. Yes she was good at these task, but they left her feeling undervalued, bored and without the time or energy to devote to the type of work that kept her challenged and motivated.
And worst of all… she found herself no longer included in the Senior Leadership Team meetings.
Even though she was reassured that she was not being demoted and she continued to get exceptional performance feedback, it was hard not to see this as a kick in the guts!
So what’s the solution?
The good news is, it is possible to resurrect and repair your professional reputation and be seen as a leader who can truly make a difference rather than just someone who can get work done.
How to shift your professional reputation from doer to leader.
1. Get strategic. Ok ladies it’s time to get strategic! Let’s start with being strategic about what projects you get involved in. Look across your portfolio and pick one project you could devote some concentrated time and effort to over the next 3 months. The aim is to showcase what you are capable of as well as demonstrate your contribution to the business goals.
OK … I’m hearing you! Right now you’re thinking I don’t have time Jane. I’m already too busy. And there’s the problem right there. You have been busy focusing on the wrong things.
Take a look at your workload. There is bound to be something that you really don’t need to be doing or something that you could down grade your efforts in.
For all you perfectionists out there, let’s stop the need for everything to be perfect. Flex your perfectionist muscle on the likes of completing your board report and let go a little on the rest. Trust that your 80% is absolutely more than good enough.
2. Get visible. It’s time to get yourself out there and known for the great work you do. Doing great work is never enough.
I’m here to encourage you to get out from behind your desk and prioritise time to grab a coffee or lunch with people of influence within your organisation and industry. Developing and maintaining a network of strong relationships is the secret to opening up the best opportunities.
And as much as you might believe that self promotion is irksome, I know you can find a way to share the value of your work in an authentic genuine way. Being a well kept secret will not get you the recognition you deserve.
3. Get delegating. If you’re in a leadership role there is a fare chance you have a team. It’s time to bring your team on board to do some more of the doing.
I get it… it’s quicker to do it yourself! But this is taking a short term view. If you want to be seen as an effective leader you need to step away from purely doing the do and start developing the team to operate at their peek.
The short term pain that comes from slowing down the process to coach one of your team to take on more responsibility will be well worth it for months and years to come.
The damage to your professional reputation will only get worse if you choose to do nothing.
And just like Gillian, I know that you are capable of so much more. And more importantly you want more.
And that’s why I have created a brand new program called The Leadership Connection, an exclusive 6-month program for smart professional women to connect and grow in their career success.
No more going it alone. No more working in isolation.
We need more women just like you to leading not doing.