#MonthlyWritingChallenge: Visibility

noun. the state of being able to see or be seen; the distance one can see as determined by light and weather conditions; the degree to which something has attracted general attention; prominence.

I haven’t written in over a month, which is a long time for me, and I have missed it. Coming up with the themes each month for the #MonthlyWritingChallenge is part of my commitment to write at least once a month as I find it really cathartic.

Tweeting, blogging and being active on social media has increased by visibility as a leader over time, but I have been busy this month speaking at events and delivering training to different groups of stakeholders.

So what does visibility mean to me?

It means so much it is hard to know where to start as it has spawned so many ideas for me to unpack…

Visibility:

The questions running through my mind include: What do I see? Who do I see? How am I seen? How do I help others to be seen? How do I raise awareness about the things I care about?

I have blogged previously about being an inclusive ally and how I have committed to sharing my mic with others moving forwards to amplify the voices of others.

In #IamRemarkable we talk about the correlation between self-promotion and promotion, we relate our ability to self-promote to our self-confidence and our self-esteem, but we also consider the integrity and the authenticity of those who are visible and whether they are ‘walking the walk’ as well as ‘talking the talk’.

High-visibility:

Reminds me of working in schools, being on duty, going on school trips and of working with the project management team on opening a brand new school. For a while I spent quite a lot of time in a hard hat and a high-vis vest!

If a high-vis vest is a metaphor for our commitment to safety, I wonder who should be wearing them in our schools right now, to not only feel physically but also psychologically safe.

Visible role models:

A few years ago I co-founded #WomenEd due to the lack of visible role models in my professional network. I joined Twitter to find my tribe, to connect with women in leadership who shared my vision and values, my hopes and my dreams.

There is much talk around the theme of “you got to see it, to be it”, but we also need to become the role models we wish we had. With the increased focus on representation we need to continue to work hard to ensure that in both our schools and in our society that we are amplifying diverse voices and that we are including different lived experiences.

Being visible:

Having a presence and being visible has its pros and cons. Lots of people have commented recently that I appear to be very busy, it is articulated as a criticism rather than a compliment. Having left a full time salaried, school-based role, to work independently, my passion projects have become my purpose. I have a social media presence and I am visible in what I do as I like to connect, collaborate and engage with the community around me. I have the best work-life balance I have ever had, but some people in my network are not seeing that, perhaps they do not understand that I used to run #WomenEd and #DiverseEd around being a full time leader, I am now running #DiverseEd full time.

When you are working independently, if you are not visible, if you do not self-promote, you don’t get work and you don’t get paid! So being visible on social media is part of my business strategy. The cons of this is that the boundaries get blurred, and I have had to reinforce that my working hours are Mon-Fri 9-5. I don’t stop caring about mental health and wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion, leadership and coaching in the evenings and at the weekends but I need a break, so I encourage people to email me.

Clarity of direction:

Since the Spring, when I went independent, I have gone through an accreditation process to become a consultant coach for Resilient Leadership. One of the elements in our coaching framework is Clarity of Direction, which is underpinned by the facets of: Strategic Direction, Unifying Purpose and Determination.

Knowing where we are going is underpinned by our passion and our purpose, our Ikigai. Through coaching we process our goals to create a vision; we need to be able to clearly articulate that vision to take people with us and we need to be determined to keep going, despite setbacks, to reach our goal.

I coach a lot of people and one thing I often bring as a challenge is what is going on internally rather than externally, what we do implicitly which we need to make more explicit. Making something explicit through our behaviour and our actions, externalising our thinking, is how we make something more visible. We need to remember the iceberg analogy and make visible what is hidden below the water line.

“When the fog clears”:

Is an expression that gets used a lot. A passive interpretation is that we wait for the weather conditions to settle for us to be able to see again – we have patience that the fog will clear itself, in time. An active interpretation is that we need to change the conditions to accelerate the clearance.

I fear that many people are waiting for 2020 to be over, and are hopeful that the fog will suddenly clear on 1st January 2021 as we start a new year and a new decade.

Are we going to sit and wait for clarity to come to us, or are we going to work on finding that clarity ourselves?

Are we going to sit and wait for someone to see us, or are we going to work to make ourselves more visible?

To conclude, to go back to the dictionary definition and leave you with a few questions to muse over:

The state of being able to see or be seen.

We have 5 senses and sight is one we rely on heavily. Have you considered what your life would be like if you could not see? How inclusive are you of people with a visual impairment?

The opposite of visibility is invisibility. Who or what is hidden and needs to be brought into the light to be made more visible?

The distance one can see as determined by light and weather conditions.

We have had a cold, wet mist hanging over us for a few days now. Mist is a phenomenon where water is suspended in the air, caught between two temperatures. Visibility right now is poor.

Who or what needs a light shining on it right now? Who can you be a beacon of hope for?

For some that mist has become fog and they are feeling disorientated and confused. How can we enhance our clarity of direction and help them find theirs too?

The degree to which something has attracted general attention.

2020 has been an odd year and different things have attracted our attention. The number itself makes me think of visibility as 20:20 vision is our ability to see clearly at 20ft.

Have you considered who or what is getting the most attention in your life right now?

In your professional life, your personal life and your public life different themes will have emerged this year. Have you reflected on what has resonated with you in the local, regional, national and global news?

Prominence.

Visibility is a theme that comes up a lot in my #IamRemarkable sessions and leadership masterclasses. A lot of women are seeking to increase their prominence, to build their gravitas and to have more presence as a leader.

Have you considered how visible you are? Do you shine a light on others to increase their prominence too?

Visibility will mean different things to different people, which is the beauty of the #MonthlyWritingChallenge as we explore a theme from multiple perspectives.

Published by Ethical Leader

Leadership Development Consultant, Facilitator, Coach, Speaker and Writer. Experience of teaching schools, initial teacher education, mentoring & coaching, diversity and equality. Passionate about integrity, ethics and values.

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