When you’re a motivated, hard worker who has been putting in the hours to succeed — both for yourself and your organization — you’d think that should be enough to get ahead.
Unfortunately, many hard workers fail to take that next step in raising their visibility. Dedication, drive, results: They only help you get ahead if those in key decision-making leaders are aware of your success.
If you’re cringing right now at the idea of endlessly tooting your own horn to your superiors, you can breathe a small sigh of relief. Raising your visibility is more than just demanding recognition for your accomplishments. Ideally, those key stakeholders are invested in your work; they are involved and aware in your success.
If you to want to sustainably raise your visibility with key stakeholders, read my guide below on making your achievements an integral part of their own victories.
Perhaps it seems counterintuitive to do so, but the first step in raising your visibility is offering help, rather than asking for advice or accolades. Step up to solve a problem they care about.
One mistake I often see aspiring leaders make in the effort to seem innovative, is to tackle a project no one is tracking. Attention from superiors will come to those working on something they truly are concerned about. How do you determine what it is your stakeholders really care about? You ask.
The question can be big, or small, general or specific. Questions to ask include:
- “How can I help you?”
- “What do you need?”
- “What can I give you to help with your board presentation on Thursday?”
- “What do you think would help solve the problem of X in our organization?”
Uncover missing pieces
One of those shorthand compliments I often hear executives say when discussing up-and-comers is that so-and-so is a great employee because “they get it.” Just what is “it,” exactly? That can vary, based on your organization’s culture, values and history.
It can be hard to know what you’re missing. That can be very frustrating, always feeling like there’s some key elements that only insiders truly understand. Ask your stakeholders for advice on navigating within your organization, which will help you can gain the competitive advantage:
Questions to ask include:
- “What would you like me to know or keep in mind as I tackle this problem?”
- “Are there hidden processes or systems that I am not aware of?”
- “What forces at play am I not considering in this situation?”
Once you’ve established a rapport with your stakeholders, your questions and discussions can start to include requests for feedback and advice. When you demonstrate that you are someone willing to help, the people who can help you get ahead will be more inclined to put genuine time into returning the favor.
As humans, we by and large do want to help others, but if something requires more thought, time or attention, it’s most likely to go to those with whom we’ve developed a relationship. If you do the work on your end first, this outcome becomes much more likely, giving you the opportunity to request meaningful feedback:
Questions to ask include:
- “What am I doing well right now? In what areas can I improve?”
- “Could you look through the lens of executive presence on my performance and tell me your thoughts?”
- “Can I get your feedback on my most recent presentation?”
Seek organizational advice
Beyond advice on improving your own personal skill set, stakeholders who are invested in your success can also help you navigate your specific organization. Senior leaders can advocate for you in business and succession planning, put your name forward in consideration for development opportunities and recommend you for next-level mentoring or executive coaching.
They will be more willing to spend the time with you to tell you what has worked for them, and in turn help you achieve those same or similar milestones. Asking for that specific advice and demonstrating your willingness to emulate them will bring you front of mind and raise your visibility:
Questions to ask include:
- “I would like to understand your group better. Could you please help me?”
- “What have you done yourself to get to your current level?”
- “What should I do to advance to the next level? What skills could I start practicing now?”
Raising your visibility is more than a one-step task to get a stakeholder’s attention; it involves developing a relationship with key members of your organization and offering value for the mentorship you seek.
Determine what you can deliver to stakeholders, and create a plan using the steps outlined above. Once you’ve developed a rapport, you’ll be front of mind with your superiors and on your way to leveraging that visibility to get ahead.
Joel Garfinkle is an executive leadership coach who recently worked with a group of junior executives to help them raise their visibility with stakeholders. By utilizing this four-step approach, they were able to increase their impact in the company. He is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the US, and the author of 11 books, including “Getting Ahead.” Subscribe to his Fulfillment at Work Newsletter and learn from the 75 of Garfinkle’s 2-minute inspirational video clips at his YouTube channel.