Don’t Hide Your Light

At this year’s Chief Executive Women Annual dinner, new CEO of Coca-Cola Amatil Alison Watkins shared some insights of her journey to the top. One of the early pieces of advice that she shared and is consistent with many senior female executives was ‘don’t hide your light’.

Messages supporting women to take ownership of their profile within organisations and the broader market are now commonly communicated in various forms including Marissa Meyers now famous paraphrase ‘Lean In’ and the introduction of the concept of ‘Visible’ – a new area for education in female leadership development.

No longer does the assumption of ‘work hard’ and someone (one day) will reward and recognize you, cut it. Too often I hear stories of women who have been overlooked for promotion opportunities or salary increases because someone else is banging the drum a little louder (compared to not banging the drum at all).

Think about the whole concept of marketing. Often the success of a product, in terms of sales is not solely a function of how good the product is, but rather how widely known the product is in the market and how well crafted the messages are about features and benefits, aka ‘marketing’. Few companies would dream of launching a new product without having a carefully crafted strategy around product positioning and how to drive sales.

So why is it that we approach the concept of marketing ourselves with such apprehension? (that’s a whole other blog post!)

I am not talking about a self-published ego trip full of hype and big promises. In the case of products, these marketing campaigns whilst sometimes successful in the beginning always burn out when consumers realize the truth. What I am talking about is an elegant and graceful evidence based ‘marketing’ campaign that talks to key strengths and value based contribution of individuals’ efforts to the organization.

Sounds perfect…but where to start?

As pre-work for the 9 month YPWA Leadership Development Program launched in July this year, we asked participants to go through quite a detailed career evaluation process. Feedback from participants was 2-fold;

  • The process was hard, confronting and not so comfortable even though the focus was on positive aspects like achievements, skills etc

  • After completing the process, their confidence had increased by mere fact of being able to articulate in an elegant, evidenced based way the value they represented to an employer.

We have detailed below some of the questions that were included in this process with the purpose of helping you to start articulating your value proposition.

  • What key skills and competencies have you acquired? (Include technical, behavioral, soft etc)

  • What are some examples / experience of how you have used those skills?

  • What value did that create for your organization, customer, manager or other stakeholder?

Remember to focus on all 3 steps – many people stop at articulating the skills and competencies. What an organization is interested in is what you can do with those skills and the value that can be created. Just because you have the skills that mean you can, does not mean that you will.

Still struggling?

  • Sometimes it can be useful to step into the shoes of someone else (a boss, colleague etc) and answer the questions from their perspectives.

  • Ask trusted advisors how they see you in terms of key strengths, achievements etc

  • Start brainstorming a list over a few days (with a goal of getting to 20). Some of the ideas may appear vague but you will definitely collect some fantastic things to work and build on.

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