Saying Yes to High Visibility Projects – 5 Steps to Success

Like this on Facebook

No matter whether you are just starting out in your career or about to retire, saying “yes” to high visibility projects should be at the top of your list of priorities. For those starting out, it indicates willingness and motivation. It helps mark you out as a future leader.

For mid-career leaders, taking on high visibility projects can accelerate your progression, open up additional responsibilities and opportunities and signal your interest for executive leadership roles. And for those considering retirement, and thinking about a different kind of future, high visibility projects can provide a lasting career legacy while also acting as a beacon for younger leaders.

High visibility projects are important – particularly for women – as a HBR article by Shelley Correll and Lori Mackenzie points out, for those wanting to succeed in a corporate environment, visibility is the single most important factor:

More than technical competence, business results, or team leadership ability — these leaders agreed — visibility is the most important factor for advancement

But before you can say “yes” to a high visibility project, there is some work that needs to be done. Let’s take a look at the five steps to visible success:

1. Start with a small success: We all like to make a “splash”, but taking on a large challenge also comes with risk and additional pressure. Volunteering to present at the national sales kickoff, for example, will put you squarely in the line of sight of your organization’s leadership. They will know your name, voice and the way you move on stage. They will scrutinize your presentation and speech – and this may be exactly what you want.

But leadership is not a single splash. It’s a sustained commitment over time. Start by creating the conditions for visible success, Learn about a new tool or approach and offer to lead its implementation. Run lunchtime sessions for your colleagues to skill them up. Find ways to work this new capability into the everyday workings of your teams.

2. Build your innovation story: Once you have some successes to your credit, begin to connect the dots between them. Look for the story that leads from Project A to Innovation B. Craft the message that weaves business value, capability building and measurable outcomes into a believable narrative.

Leadership sometimes takes a chaotic path – but it is up to the leader to explain how the puzzle fits together. Invest in building your story of innovation, change and achievement in a way that is easy to communicate.

3. Don’t wait, back yourself: Many of us feel uncomfortable promoting ourselves but this is an essential skill for the modern leader. I call this “backing yourself“. After all, if you won’t back yourself, who will?

But there is a great trick for reframing self-promotion – rather than asking for a new assignment or challenging project, identify a business problem that needs solving and pitch your solution to your leadership. Trust in your small successes, craft your story and your pitch and then give it your best shot.

4. Say yes to success while facing down the risk: Earlier this year I spoke with Monica Phillips from the Powerful Conversations Podcast on the topic of innovation and leadership. Around 30 minutes in, I explained how I moved from an externally facing role with global technology firm, SAP to an internally focused technology role at Nike. Now, these were two very different organizations and challenges operating in completely different industries. To say yes to this high visibility opportunity I had to believe in my past successes and back myself to continue to achieve. I had to say yes to success while facing down the risk.

5. Accomplishment, loyalty and passion: There are three foundations that guide and support our lives. They underpin the successes we have at home and at work – and inform every aspect of our lives. Connecting and building on accomplishment, loyalty and passion will lead us to the door of opportunity. Once there, we only need to say “yes”.

Nina Nets It Out: Leadership comes with risks and challenges, as well as rewards. A necessary part of this is saying “yes” to high visibility projects. But how do we get there? Take these five steps to visible success.

This post first appeared at

Nina Simosko

Nina Simosko serves as President and CEO of NTT Innovation Institute Inc. (NTT i3), the prestigious Silicon Valley-based innovation center for NTT Group, one of the world’s largest ICT companies. She previously held executive leadership roles with Nike Technology and SAP, and currently serves on the advisory boards of two early-to-mid stage technology companies: Reflektion and AppOrchid. Nina’s blog, provides current and aspiring leaders with a forum for ideas and discussion. Follow @NinaSimosko on Twitter.


Demographic Shifts: Why Now is the Time to Raise Your Hand for Management Responsibilities

Feel that? It could be one of the many seismic demographic shifts taking place in the global workforce today, which means that if you’re interested ...

Leaderly Quote: Mentors can help you skill up, but sponsors help you move up.

What's the difference between a mentor and a sponsor? Mentors can help you skill up, but sponsors help you move up! In their 2010 article ...

When You Find Yourself Asking: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Your boss has pissed you off yet again. You’ve no sense of autonomy, and you feel like you’re underpaid. You are officially in a rough ...

Ready to lead?

We'll show you how!
Get email updates from Be Leaderly.

Our mission is to provide the career strategies that help you lead, climb and thrive as a rising woman of influence.

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

How to Manage Former Peers

Let’s talk about a potentially awkward situation. You get a new role and ...

Thank You, Leaderlies
Thank You, Leaderlies

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we consider ourselves to be extremely lucky to know you, our

My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).
My Favorite Salary Negotiation Tactic (That Recruiters Love, Too).

How many of you negotiated your first job offer? I have to admit I didn’t.

Transform Your To-Do List With This Quick Productivity Hack
Transform Your To-Do List With This Quick Productivity Hack

You’re probably familiar with the story for a jar that represents the time available in your life.

Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!
Why You Need a Sponsor Not a Mentor!

Could your career use an influential advocate? When you first begin your career, it’s important

Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.
Leaderly Quote: Dream. Do. Dream.

“Don’t let a dream become a fantasy, which is what happens when you never act

Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization
Don’t be the Best Kept Secret in Your Organization

“I feel like I’m the best kept secret in this organization,” said Tina. She had

Technology, Peace and Sanity
Technology, Peace and Sanity

A few years ago, I sat down and did some math. I tallied up how

Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here are the top articles that other emerging leaders have been reading at this

Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams
Don’t Let Fear Steal Your Dreams

Fear steals our dreams. Think about the last time you really longed for something but

Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.
Leaderly Quote: See yourself as a leader now.

“See yourself as a leader now. Leadership is an action not a position.” — Cindy Pace,

4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence
4 Ways to Improve Your Financial Intelligence

Let’s be honest: Most of us who did not start our careers in finance would

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Mindy Seiffert

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing

Improving Diversity in Hiring
Improving Diversity in Hiring

Caveat: Diversity is more than gender. I’ve used gender in some of these examples because

Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear
Leaderly Quote: When you fail, it diminishes your fear

You took a big risk… and failed. What now? This is a question I asked

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.




We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address.
Copyright 2017, Be Leaderly