Career Growth for Women: the Visibility Mindset

May 04, 2024

Success is one thing – visibility another

This is how it works! Being successful at work is often not enough. Those around you also need to know about it. If you want to shape your own career proactively, you should make your achievements visible. And communicate your successes to the outside world.

Success and performance must be made visible to give your career the boost it deserves. Image created in ChatGPT with DALL E
Success and performance must be made visible to give your career the boost it deserves. Image created in ChatGPT with DALL E

"Learn how to get stuff done" is how former US President Barack Obama summarizes his most important career advice for young people in a video. You can talk a lot about things, but the real power does not lie in what you say, but in what you do. Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, also emphasizes this. The scientist sees this as an opportunity for women in particular: "We get things done and work in a very focused way. The more experience you gain, the bigger the challenges you face." And the further you progress in your job, the more important one factor becomes: the visibility of your own performance. In other words, it's not enough to "just" do a good job; your own successes must be recognized by the team, your superiors, and others outside the company.

Why and Where Visibility is Absolutely Crucial for Your Career

"If you make it to the top, you automatically get a certain visibility. Then you are invited to panel talks or mentioned in certain rankings of top managers”, says Stöttinger. The question is therefore rather: Can you even get there without visibility? "I don't think so", says the Dean of the WU Executive Academy. “That's why you must present yourself in the right light. I don't like stereotypes, but I think that most women are probably not proactive enough because they don't want to put themselves in the spotlight. I see this time and again with female colleagues who have very high expectations of their own performance but don't talk much about what they do. But if I ask myself how I can make it into the elevator to the top - to the executive floor - then I must be visible to decision-makers who award open jobs. That's an important success factor." So, learning number one is to communicate your own successes actively and proactively to the outside world. And celebrate them.

If you want to aim high, you have to be visible to decision-makers. Image: shutterstock, Axstokes
If you want to aim high, you have to be visible to decision-makers. Image: shutterstock, Axstokes

How to Gain Visibility

First ask yourself: What do I want to be visible for? Authenticity is a key point for Barbara Stöttinger when it comes to visibility. "Women's networks have helped me," she reveals. "They offer a good opportunity to get to know role models and push each other. When women give each other positive affirmation and emphasize each other's strengths, it releases a very special energy." This boosts self-confidence and therefore also visibility. Stöttinger continues: "I often hear women say that networking isn't their thing. It's not just about appearing at events; I can also build up a social media presence if it's easier for me. That's why I always advise others to find what suits them. It would never occur to me to put myself as a person in the foreground anywhere, but I have a great passion for the content of my job and it's really easy for me to talk about it for hours on end." Another idea for clever self-marketing: performance brings visibility. What helps is knowing what you want to stand for instead of copying others. This also makes it easier to talk about your own successes.

[Translate to English:] Barbara Stöttinger Portrait

Barbara Stöttinger

  • Dean of the WU Executive Academy

For me, visibility also means speaking plainly as a mentor and being open with younger colleagues about how difficult it was to get to where I am today.

Why Virtual Visibility is Important for Your Career

"Learning from the best" is the motto. Stöttinger explains: "I am active on the online platform LinkedIn. I learned this from people in my network who, in my opinion, have positioned themselves well. I always think it's good to look at best practice examples and then apply them to your own topics." Virtual career networks in particular offer a good opportunity to actively position yourself because, according to the expert, "I can determine my own message here. And you shouldn't overlook the fact that you can also be found via these channels in an international context:
This is a smart approach, especially for introverts: if I want a C-level position where I'm on display - whether internally within the company or externally as a representative - then I must enjoy being on stage to a certain extent and being seen by people. But I can also use my expertise to gain visibility via social media. The question is always how and for what I want to be seen. Not everyone has to be a stage hog to be visible."

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