Maintaining professional visibility: The four ‘C’s
These are the key imperatives for maintaining high professional visibility. We are talking about moving from being just a top professional to leveraging on what you are to making significant contribution thereby unlocking potentials and remaining on the radar!!
Although i make no pretensions as to competence or expertise in the field of professional visibility, I will only guide discussions on the subject as an art and as a science which combine to persuade people to reckon with you. The intention is to create enough awareness and understanding about you and your professionalism as to elicit desired responses just as in public relations. The art part as Bruce Brough (APR)
Said is “In the set of tools used to proclaim the messages, which are scientifically derived and focused.” The science of PR, he continues is “The social and linguistic sciences used to formulate and package the ‘messages’ while directing it to the demographically correct audience or audiences.”
The analogy is leveraging on what you have and who you are to project yourself as a competent and capable professional unto the radar screens of those who matter (your audience) and can influence things for you, your business, work or calling or you for them or others.
For our purposes an appropriate combination of art and science will yield these four ‘C’s that I have propounded. Don’t” ask me for the mix or recipe because I cannot give it. Suffice it to say that I have aligned them to the basic steps of public relations i.e (A) fact finding, (B) strategising (C) tactical implementation and (D) measurement/refocus. ‘
- Critical Competencies;
- Compassion and Integrity; communication; and
- Critical Contingencies.
Whether you are male or female but particularly if you are female, you encounter invisible barriers to entry into some terrain e.g top management, boards, industry, big business, societies etc. sometimes it is culture, traditional values, norms in society, religion. At other times it is the persona that has carved for herself a docile, submissive, non-assertive and dependent woman archetype. These impede the progress of ambitious women.
Two days ago, WIMBZ had this speakers’ briefing: quite an interesting evening characterised by typical female modesty (to the point of being self effacing). Almost everyone, great and accomplished achievers, I must say, undersold themselves and it became a discussion point particularly as most were militant about eliminating typical female prejudices, breaking new grounds, challenging the system etc! Of course that was only because most people knew each other!! But it happens quite often.
I assume that being professional, working, business or political ladies you would have developed and are implementing your vision, mission, objectives and personal action plan. Who and what do you want to be? What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? Your vision and strategise for your company what about you? Are your vision, goals and objectives clear? How do you achieve them? How do you fit a ‘personal’ life into it?
Having said these, let us look at some of the armoury we can add to our Arsenal to project our professionalism and project us to the height/pinnacle of our potential in business, employment, professions or politics.
Essential leadership attributes like assertiveness, independence, control ant the occasional aggressiveness, hardly encouraged in women are behaviours we must now begin to cultivate and display.
Focus on the right issues is the hallmark of seriousness and professionalism.
Self-development equips and gives women the desired competitive edge among or over her male contemporaries. Read widely and use information productively. There are so many people jostling for the same thing or position. So that extra has to – come in – and count! Women must be enthusiastic about constantly upgrading themselves in terms of skills and capacity utilization in order to remain relevant and be at the forefront of organisational progress.
It is crucial that women develop and display negotiation skills with the aim of bringing that skill to the decision making table. strategy formulation is always key to institutional prosperity hence boldly trying to influence decisions is helpful. Incidentally, strategising involves critical skills needed to manage crises and adapt to changes in new environments.
Above all be truly professional
Compassion and Integrity
Management guru, Peter Drucker, in a book co-authored with tom peters, postulates that the impact of women in management and strategic positions is not a moral but an economic issue. He goes on to assert that the different attributes and qualities of women actually translate to healthier corporate performance!!
Women should therefore not hesitate to exploit their unique qualities and personal attributes. It is that intelligence enhanced by compassion and all the innate special female qualities like strategic thinking, integrity, building trust, collaboration, communication, influencing and managing priorities which women practice by instinct that bring balance to decision making, these are what transform an individual to a leader!! Only pocket/harness your emotions without denying them.
Part or the feminisation of the scene is feeling and looking good! of course dress and look the part-you want to play!! nothing tacky or gaudy!!! Don’t forget that what people ‘see is what they hear’!!
On no account should you try to be like men as the corporate environment often pushes us to do. Women must stop acting like ‘junior men’ as stated in an interesting book by the former first female executive vice president of CNN, Gail Evans titled ‘play like a man, win like a woman.’ When women thought they could break into the ‘old boy network by playing golf, she conjectured that it was a misstep as deals were struck in the locker rooms to which there was no access!! Let your moral standards, ethics, and integrity be high and obvious: be firm on issues and have the courage of your convictions.
Communication comes naturally to women but sadly not about themselves. Remember the introductions at the speakers briefing? Charity begins at home. If you do not tell your own story, someone else will and you cannot control what they say or to whom they say it. By all means ‘toot’ your own ‘horn’.
‘Nothing succeeds like success’ is not just an adage, it is reality: as with products or brands so with people. Several surveys have shown that the majority of people would rather associate with a positive perception le ‘a winner’ rather than ‘not a winner’. A good reputation is very important. As one expert put it, ‘a strong reputation is like an insurance policy, money in the bank for a rainy day’. That being the case, we need to invest money and time in building and maintaining a good reputation.
Have a clear message focused on your competitive edge to drive perception of you and activities around you. Cultivate relationships that are strategic to your objectives. This should drive particular types of people to you. In like vein create opportunities for others – invest in human resources. The dividends are eternal!
Women must strengthen their ability to demonstrate leadership. Seek out opportunities to create value to permit the full recognition of your contribution. Many of us are skilled, professional, ethical and all that but sometimes it is necessity that turns that capability to our maximum advantage. This situation dishes up a chance to maximise our effectiveness and deploy our all to gaining enough momentum to leverage up. It does not happen often so we must be vigilant and always seize on and ride the crest of critical contingencies and claim value for action. Where it does not, serve yours up: innovate, plan, contrive – do something original to help push your company’s agenda. It will certainly help you realise your agenda! i always cite the example of coca-cola and Union DIcon.
Towards Enhanced Impact
To recap, we need to look at the four ‘C’ phrases and compare it with our strategies and assess where you are. Then resolve to be more aware of yourselves and structure your approach to building your professional profile.
Draw on the reputation bank especially good reputation for integrity! Building persuasive
What are we waiting for?
No matter where you sit make sure you merit it and be committed to honing your professional skills. In fact even if you did not merit that seat at the onset, teach yourself, learn from experts and prepare for the chance to show that you can learn and have lived up to the position.
Most importantly keep focused on your business agenda using it as a fulcrum to leverage yourself by delivering results, creating events, innovating etc.
Actively stamp your work with quality and professionalism. This will speak volumes and ” help get you into the radar using your strategic relationships.
‘Action not words’, the motto of holy child schools says it all.
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