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How to thrive in spotlight?


Good news: You got promoted/ hired to a senior level position.

Not so good news according to you: Apart from the responsibilities that come with power, you are under limelight. Your work is noticed inside and outside the organisation. That may look positive, but every behaviour of yours is scrutinised. You are having to work with a camera 'on' you all the time.

Best news: You can be-friend the additional attention you are getting with awareness & time.

The first 90 days are crucial in senior level transitions. Leaders work hard to get it right.

It's a make-or-break time when stakeholders and ecosystem start forming perceptions about the leader in the new role. The real test after selection is when the eco-system thrives with you and you thrive in the eco-system.

How can you set yourself for success for high visibility roles?

Business context
  1. Understanding the context of your business/ new organisation and how you fit in it.

Whatever be the label for your role, you could be in one of the 5 situations summarised as STARS by Michael D.Watkins in his book "The first 90 days".

STARS model First 90 day

Picture courtesy HBR (c) Michael D.Watkins

STARS is an acronym for

  • Start-up

  • Turnaround

  • Accelerated growth

  • Realignment

  • Sustaining success.

Each of these situations will ask you to be

  • Creator

  • Rejuvenator

  • Accelerator

  • Change agent

  • Sustainer

Match your behaviour according to who you are asked/like to be for your context.

This will create consistency in what your role perception, your actions, your messaging and bring in clarity to your role.

Listening without agenda

2. Listening

While its easy to find everything wrong with status quo, it pays to listen to all parts of the eco-system. Otto Scharmer calls it "Generative Listening", listening from the 'future wanting to emerge'.

This is made possible if you can bring openness into the conversations instead of an agenda.

Agenda-less listening is especially hard when you have your KPIs to get to. However when done well, it will aid in your reaching your KPI faster.

Listening fosters visibility the right way. It helps generate comfort for everyone. It helps turn 'scrutiny' into 'constructive' conversations.

Otto Scharmer Theory U

Picture Courtesy , Theory U, Otto Scharmer


3. Coherence of intent, strategy, Action & Results

Coherence is where the rubber hits the road. If you are in high visibility situations, coherence is the most important factor that builds trust.

A lack of alignment of intent Vs Strategy Vs Action creates bad press for you.

Delayed results with no low hanging fruits delivered, creates sub-optimum visibility.

Pressing the accelerator too quickly creates unrest in the eco-system players leading to "venting."

What works for you to ace high visibility roles?

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