Originally Posted on Forbes.
Founder of Goldgrab Leadership Coaching, Sheila is an executive coach and runs Women Leaders Habit Labs, elevating women in leadership.
Getting credit for your work has been a long-standing challenge for women leaders. Now, in the remote workplace, women can lose the ground they gained if they aren’t encouraged to think differently about their communication so that their contributions are seen and heard.
Here are six actions women leaders working remotely in the digital workplace can take to be visible to those who make decisions that affect their career.
1. Let others know what you’ve done.
Consider that if you don’t take credit for your work, someone else probably will. You can claim back what was your idea in a way that doesn’t embarrass anyone. But how do you do it?
Here’s what a client of mine said at a virtual leadership meeting with her peers and senior leaders when she faced this situation: “Thanks for that summary, Tim. When I first raised this with you last week, I was delighted that you were open to this vital initiative.” This example is a subtle yet powerful way to take credit in a way that lets others know it was your idea.
2. Don’t pass up opportunities to speak up.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a “speaking part” on video calls to project your executive presence. Use leadership meetings across functions as a platform to look forward with your ideas about where to go next.
How do you do it? To stretch and speak up about matters outside your own function, prepare ahead by reviewing the agenda, holding pre-meeting discussions with peers and identifying a few key points. Preparing will help you be confident. Remember that you don’t always need to have the solutions; you can ask the critical questions that forward the group’s thinking.
3. Make leading from behind visible.
Leading out front isn’t the only way. When leading from behind, leaders look for what might be needed and fill in the gaps to make a difference. Leaders who do this well are effective, yet their actions aren’t always noticed because their actions are out of the camera’s view.
For example, a client of mine, Jenny, was contacted by an external stakeholder, with whom she had an excellent relationship, who expressed her concerns about the business. This stakeholder’s satisfaction was pivotal to the continued health of the business and so Jenny readied herself for a high-stakes interaction. She then escalated the urgency to her senior leader, Michael, along with her recommendations. A three-way conversation took place, and immediately after the call, the stakeholder called Jenny back to say she wasn’t satisfied. She wasn’t convinced that the company would fast track a solution to the problem. Jenny spent time listening carefully to her concerns and assured her that the company was committed to doing everything they could to solve the problem. Activating her newly formed habit of making her actions visible whenever she leads from behind, Jenny prepared an email about the pivotal conversation to share with Michael in her weekly roundup of accomplishments, which was well received.
4. Find the “I” in “we.”
In the language of leadership “we” and “us” pronouns are preferable to “I” and “me.” It’s not a subtle difference. Leaders do it because they have an outward focus. They want to engage their teams, inspire cross-functional teamwork and promote a culture where a win in one area is a win for the entire business. Yet, like every good rule, there are useful exceptions. I’ve noticed from my many years of coaching leaders that women can eliminate the “I” altogether and leave others underappreciating their value.
In a leadership development program that I lead for women, there was a lively exchange about this where one participant was skeptical about whether it could be done well. Here are two brief scripts of how to inject an “I” to show your value and point of view. Neither of these undermines the “we” culture and both are inclusive:
“I think we should have a conversation about this as a group because I see there is an issue that we should be discussing.”
“I’ve noticed this; have you noticed it?”
5. Receive credit when it’s given.
It’s no secret that many of us women have been raised to be modest and consider talking about our contributions distasteful. If we are going to change this, it will start with how we receive acknowledgments so that we are better at taking credit.
I have struggled at receiving credit myself. When I sought out a leader to thank her for her life-changing inspiration years later, she seemed reluctant, dismissive and explained away my offer of gratitude. That’s when I saw for myself what it’s like to back away from an offer of recognition.
Women often believe it’s selfish and egotistical to accept an acknowledgment, but the reverse is true. When someone gives you credit, they are saying something about what they value and letting you know. It’s not just about you.
6. Continue to leverage your informal network.
What about informal networks, now that remote work is ubiquitous and meetings are planned? No one disputes the importance of an informal network as necessary to build up your career capital, benefiting you over the long-term. The question is how to fit it in when virtual meetings don’t often afford the same spontaneity as face-to-face encounters.
One way to do it is to be deliberate. For example, one of my clients, Connie, approached a mentor of hers and made the arrangement to receive feedback immediately after each meeting they are both attending and where Connie is leading. Feedback and coaching can continue with the support of a plan.
For greater visibility, it’s vital to speak up about the value you create and receive the credit with grace. Make a habit of communicating to senior leadership, and reimagine how your mentors can continue to support you as you both work remotely. Companies promote those who they see and hear contributing to accomplishing targeted results.
Original post can be found here.