If you are leading, you need all three, as I discussed with a client this afternoon while we mapped their strategy.
Visibility — Inside and Outside your organization.
Outside: speaking at conferences, sitting on panels or leading them (be sure to take photos and post them to relevant social media outlets like LinkedIn), being in front of the media, publishing of all kinds (from blogs to books to everything in between), appearances on podcasts, etc. Think visibility to your peers, colleagues, possible superiors, their organizations outside of your own, and the industry. These vehicles convey your Thought Leadership, which, put another way, is showcasing your thinking. Outside also includes direct networking with key individuals.
Inside: Who are the 3-5 people whom you need to be most visible to and why? Who are the stakeholders in your success? How do they prefer to consume information? How can you be in front of them in a way that is supportive of their endeavors and objectives while they see you at your best and adding value?
With both outside and inside visibility, showcasing your thinking in a way that is congruent with who you are, is key. If it feels false or like bragging, you will shrink from attempts to be more visible. Speak in “we” statements rather than “I,” and remember that the greater your visibility, likely the greater your opportunity for impact and contribution.
Your leadership Brand is as vital to you as your organization’s brand is to it. How are you perceived? What is your repute inside and outside your organization? With colleagues? Reports? Superiors? Clients? How are you thought of? A pleasure to have on any team and/or to work for? Inspirational? Smart but difficult? Unfair? Or having high standards that make everyone better? Able to execute and lead with vision? Or in the weeds? One of the most effective ways to assess your brand is to have 360 interviews done by someone who can elicit the most helpful information, convey it to you in a similarly helpful manner, and create an action plan. The information should illuminate what you’re great at so you can leverage it and highlight any gaps, which could be unknown to you, so you can address them.
Pay attention to all three — Visibility, Thought Leadership, and Brand — and you’ll be paying attention to a key element of leading in an elevated role: Influence.