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  • Writer's pictureCécile Hemery

How to be seen as a leader

A business woman is posing for the camera while colleagues stand talking blurried in the background.

People often ask me how they can increase their visibility as a leader and be seen as a good leader (also read my “How to to be a good leader” article). 

Leadership presence should manifest from within before externally. Cultivating an inspiring, empowering, approachable and authentic charisma relies first on building self-confidence and emotional intelligence. Once you have mastered the art of showing up as a leader, it seeps into all your interactions, and especially during conflict.

Based on my experience and the recurring themes among my coaching clients, here a few reflection points I’d like to offer on how to improve your visibility as a leader.


Believing in your own talents and potential is essential. If you doubt yourself constantly, you are going to project that there are reasons to doubt you’re “leadership material”, even if you do all the right things. Why should anyone see leader qualities you don't first claim within yourself?

Build up your confidence. Believe in yourself before asking others to believe in you.

Build your awareness of your strengths, of your blind sports. Build your confidence. Know your worth. Don’t overrate it, but don’t discard it either.

“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” - John Wooden


Let go of your need for everything to be perfect. It’s OK to make mistakes - it is inevitable. It’s OK to not have all the answers - you’re never going to be 100% sure everything will work out perfectly. Accept that uncertainty and discomfort are part of the process and embrace it as part of the journey. Your ability to move forward despite uncertainty and setbacks is what will set you apart.

“Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it.” - Salvador Dali


If you see everyone and everything as being against you, you are likely to take a defensive stance and react with justifications and excuses rather than move through challenges.

It is normal that you will be questioned, and that there will be challenges, misunderstandings, and push-backs. All of this is to be expected and this is a part of life. Just because someone doesn’t agree doesn’t mean that you’re points are not valid or that you’re not good enough. Don’t make it mean something about you.

If you are acting defensively it is in reaction to a perceived attack. Question whether there has actually been an attack. And if there was an attack, consider what is the best response.

“He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious” - Sun Tzu

The proverb also says that when “the dogs bark, the caravan goes on”. Be mindful of who or what you give attention and energy to and whether it is necessary. Showing up defensively is a sign of stress and rarely shows you in your best light. Take a step back before reacting.


Everything is information. That means failure and mistakes are information too.

They’re setbacks, they’re not great, they don’t feel great but they have value. They tell you what not to do next. Take the lesson. Focus on what will take you toward your goal.

Develop a curious mind and explore. Network, listen, talk to people. Take notes. Feed your creativity and “knowledge base” so you’re in a better place to connect the dots.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” -Confucius


A leader is proactive. They anticipate. They spot opportunities and act on them.

They ask for what you want. The early bird gets the worm. Don’t wait for it to come to you cooked and wrapped. Step up.

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt


Whether they are above you, at your level or otherwise, be supportive of others. No matter their hierarchical rank. A leader empowers, inspires and serves others.

How can you help?

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” - Max DePree



Being a leader is an act of balance, and to be seen as a leader, demonstrate your understanding of that balance.

Believe in yourself. Everything doesn’t rest on your shoulders, share the load. You’re going to make mistakes, that’s good. You’re learning. Get comfortable with uncertainty and change. A leader is a work in progress. It’s never “done”.

The quote below reminds me of America Ferrara’s speech about women’s impossible positions in society from the Barbie movie. There is a fine line to walk as a leader and mastering it involves skills, practice and reflection.

“The challenge of leadership is

to be strong, but not rude;

be kind, but not weak;

be bold, but not bully;

be thoughtful, but not lazy;

be humble, but not timid;

be proud, but not arrogant;

have humour, but without folly.”

- Jim Rohn

If you’re ready to explore further how to be seen as a leader, send me a message or reach out for a conversation.


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