Having good visibility is excellent for an organization. You gain the ability to quickly draw in new clients and keep steady ones engaged. But especially strong visibility brings with it its own sets of challenges, especially if it is associated with a brand ambassador.
Everything your leadership does is amplified. Simple or off-the-cuff comments can be misinterpreted, generating weeks of public relations headaches. It can be very easy to be overwhelmed by the voice of the people, who all have — sometimes wildly different — opinions on your brand, products or current direction.
So how can high-visibility leaders be responsible leaders to their internal teams when there’s so much outside scrutiny and pressure? Members of Forbes Coaches Council suggest keeping the following in mind.
1. Mind Your ABCs
Leaders must move with the awareness that everything you do is magnified and on display. You are watched, as if in a fishbowl, and everything you say may as well be delivered by megaphone, as it’s heard with amplification regardless of what you intended. Mind your ABC’s: Keep your “actions, behaviors and conversations” aligned with corporate values and congruent with your strategic objectives. – Suzi Pomerantz, Innovative Leadership International LLC
2. Have Your Act Together
Maintain emotional control in private, and especially in public. Have your act together internally and you will be fine when the media comes calling. Never get caught on camera running or hiding from a reporter. Don’t do anything that must be censored out. All U.S. presidents offer great lessons, so study their examples. Right or wrong, things they do or say in private eventually become public. – James Chittenden, Triumph Business Communications, Inc.
3. Lead By Example
Digital technology has broken down the old, familiar models of organizations, and has also created a broad set of new challenges. Different ages require different kinds of leadership, but certain universal characteristics are timeless. Leaders who “walk the talk” inspire and generate loyalty, commitment, passion and enthusiasm in their team members excel at creating a positive work environment. – Maria Pastore, Maria Pastore Coaching
4. Make Time To Candidly Communicate
Make time for a series of open conversations with internal teams and discuss candidly with them the “storm” that is brewing. The key to these sessions is open and honest communication, even when the answers are unclear or unknown. These sessions enable a sense of unity, calm and resilience in the leadership team, so that these leaders will then lead by the example set for them. – Elva Bankins Baxter, Bankins Consulting, Inc.
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5. Get Feedback From A Trusted Source
Outside scrutiny is only helpful when the feedback allows you to grow personally and professionally. Destructive feedback should be ignored. Surround yourself with people you trust to speak truth to you, even truth you’d rather not hear. These are the people whose opinions matter: Your tribe who want you to succeed, and not the outsiders who enjoy berating high-visibility leaders. – Frances McIntosh, Intentional Coaching LLC
6. Focus On Employee Engagement
Great leaders know that scrutiny is out there, regardless. The key to true leadership is to ensure genuine employee engagement. It starts with managers and is amplified in teams. If a high-visibility leader takes care of their employees, the organization does better on all fronts: productivity, client service, profits, and even employee wellness and happiness. Isn’t that what a leader wants? – Cha Tekeli, Chalamode, Inc.
7. Be Open And Candid
Every leader has a built-in responsibility to their internal team first and foremost. A rule of thumb: If you don’t want your actions posted on the front page of the newspaper, that could be a yellow flag. Accountable leaders are open and candid, seek feedback regularly and foster an environment where collaboration is valued, and the culture is prescriptively managed. – Kirsten Blakemore, Partners In Leadership
8. Always Have Your Team’s Back
There is nothing more important — and more often screwed up by CEOs in tech and elsewhere — than actually having your team’s back in the face of bad publicity, regulatory challenges and worse. Overcommunicating this at every occasion, as well as actually following it up with action, creates and reinforces trust that is so critical when dealing with outside scrutiny effectively. – Yuri Kruman, Master The Talk Consulting
9. Admit You’re Actually Human To Your Team
The best leaders focus on the accountability: We have to see each other as human beings first. If you’ve messed up, admit it to your team. Fight that impulse to HIMJAB, or hide, ignore, minimize, justify, avoid, or play the blame game. Sincerely apologize or be transparent about what happened. If you’ve built the right team, they will have even greater respect for you. – Rosalee Laws, The Rosalee Laws Company
10. Get Specific: ‘This is How We Do Things Here’
Instead of talking about “culture” or “environment,” leaders can use the phrase “this is how we do things here.” It’s a simple way to communicate with employees, customers and the watching world — and it’s a good way to catch when you’re out of sync. Be specific: “When X happens, this is how we do things here.” Make your list now, and you’ll quickly see where you need to do things differently. – Darcy Eikenberg, Red Cape Revolution
11. Let Go Of What The Critics Think
Stop hustling for ratings and positive press: The outside critics are a distraction from what matters most. Spend your precious energy developing strong relationships with your teams, creating fierce boundaries and consistently modeling the behaviors that support your company values. Surround yourself with a trusted and courageously honest support team to keep your self-awareness in check. – Jenn Lofgren, Incito Executive & Leadership Development