Executive presence is important for anyone who is seeking to move to a leadership position. Why? because people need to see you as a potential leader; as someone who has the potential to take on more responsibility and grow professionally.
What you may not know is that you have control over the way you are perceived. You don’t need to leave it to chance. Once you decide how you want others to think of you, you can create that professional image.
Here’s how to start:
- Write out at least 10 descriptors of how you want to be perceived.
2. Look for a female role model within your company who has achieved leadership success. How does she communicate, behave, manage and lead others, motivate others. What does her body language say about her? Does she come across as confident? How does she demonstrate that confidence? Write down your observations.
3. Ask trusted colleagues at work to give you honest feedback about how they currently see you. Then share your intentions for how you want to be perceived and ask permission to check in with them to see if they see any changes.
4. Make sure you are dressing the part. Take extra care to look professional and polished.
5. Pay special attention to your verbal communication so that you are not sabotaging your efforts by using minimizing language.
Keep the list of 10 descriptors posted where they are accessible and visible. Look over the list before you go into important meetings or even before you start your day as a reminder.
Over time you can change your professional image and support your advancement efforts.
Introverts may feel powerless but they can successfully influence others in the workplace to affect change and inspire others. Some may think the way to get things done in business is by being the loudest or the most charismatic, but introverts can be highly effective influencers as well when they use their natural strengths instead of trying to act like extroverts.
My guest , Jennifer Kahnweiler, is an expert on the subject and an international speaker and executive coach. Her new book, Quiet Influence: The Introvert’s Guide to Making a Difference, helps us to understand the qualities that introverts possess and how they can leverage these strengths to be successful.
Jennifer specializes in developing and coaching introverted leaders. She holds a doctorate in counseling and organizational development from Florida State University. She has also written articles about introverts in the workplace for Forbes, Bloomberg Business Week and The Wall Street Journal. Her first book, The Introverted Leader: Building on Your Quiet Strength, has sold more than 20,000 copies and has been translated into multiple languages. You can learn more about Jennifer at her website, www.jenniferkahnweiler.com and via twitter @JennKahnweiler.
I’m sure most of us are unaware of how often we make assumptions. We make assumptions every day about how other people think and feel, and these assumptions then lead us to behave in ways that sabotage our relationships, our careers, and erode our self-confidence. We make assumptions based on gender and race. We make assumptions and judge people based on their background, education, religion and age.
Have you ever thought about how dangerous it is to make assumptions?
We certainly don’t want others to make unsubstantiated judgments about us, right? We don’t want the decision makers in our company to assume that because we are women or that we are mothers, that we are less competent or less committed to doing the job or taking the promotion. Yet, how many times do we sabotage ourselves because we ourselves make false assumptions?
Here are the top 10 assumptions that can prevent you from getting ahead.
- You assume that people understand how valuable you are to the organization even if you don’t tell them.
- You assume that people will recognize and reward you even if you don’t let them know what you’ve accomplished on a regular basis.
- You assume that you will get promoted just because you are talented and work hard.
- You assume that if you are assertive people won’t like you.
- You assume that it’s important that everyone like you in order to get ahead.
- You assume that embracing the workplace politics is just for men.
- You assume that networking means connecting with people you like and know.
- You assume that the salary or raise you are offered is the best final offer.
- You assume that if you negotiate for a raise it will be viewed negatively.
- You assume that opportunities will surface solely because of your excellent track record.
Are you guilty of making any of these assumptions? Which ones?
These assumptions are sabotaging your efforts to accelerate your career!
Take control of your own career destiny and make it your intention to let go of these assumptions and do the work to move yourself forward.
I was dumbfounded and perhaps a little embarrassed when in an interview last week with Sharon Sayler, body language and communications expert, she said that to look more intelligent we should breathe through our noses. Who knew I was coming across as stupid when my cold forced me to breathe through my mouth? I felt lucky just to be breathing quite honestly!
The lesson here is not to dwell on my recent cold, but to make the point that there are many ways that our body language influences the way we are perceived by others.
There has been much talk lately of Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and her new movement. I happen to be a fan of the premise of the book that as woman we can learn much about how to better position ourselves for success. Certainly our awareness of not only our communication patterns but body language is a great place to start. In fact, leaning in, is literally one way that you can communicate to others that you are engaged and ready to listen and take action.
You can listen to the full interview for more great tips, but the take-away here is that we already know that we need to do great work to be recognized. Of equal importance is positioning ourselves in the organization as confident and capable of taking on more responsibility and challenges. Confident and competent women are much more likely to be considered as having leadership potential.
Another pointer that I picked up from the interview with Sharon Sayler is that keeping your chin up helps you to look more confident. Can you fake confidence until you feel it? Apparently so! Keeping your chin up is one way to demonstrate confidence. Try it before you head into a meeting or make a presentation. Lifting your chin actually feels powerful and does give you a feeling of confidence.
Maintaining eye contact during conversations and presentations also contributes to the perception that you have confidence in what you are presenting or discussing.
Try some of these simple tips and see how you feel. Even when you make small changes in your behavior it changes the way others think of you. Ask a trusted colleague or mentor for feedback as you continue to try new approaches to your communication and body language.
Lean in. Chin up. Step up into your own talent and power and demonstrate to others that you have the potential to move up.
“Quid quo pro” is a reciprocal exchange. The definition is “something for something”. In plain English, it’s called trading favors or in slang, “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”.
Reciprocal relationships in the workplace are powerful. Reciprocity, if done effectively, helps one gain influence and access to those people who can potentially serve as allies to advance your career.
Women typically shy away from this type of behavior as they see it as manipulative and political. This puts them at a distinct disadvantage in the workplace. As a consequence, they lack access to the informal networks and decision makers who can make or break their career.
According to the Center for Work Life Policy,
“To their detriment, women perceive cultivating relationships and mobilizing them on their behalf as, at best, an occasional necessity rather than the key exercise of leadership. They fail to see that the practice of seeking out powerful people, cultivating favor and cashing in those chips is itself a demonstration of leadership potential.”
On the other hand, research indicates that,
“Men view politics as part of the rules of the game, and they use informal systems built on the notions of loyalty, trading of favors and protection. They use informal systems to gain access to early information and to read political currents within the organization.”
Without access to these informal networks, how do women get this critical information?
The answer is they have to rely on the traditional organizational channels. And it’s often too little too late. Key decisions have already been made. They are powerless, therefore, to influence the decisions that influence their careers. The goal, therefore, is to get access to the decision makers and information beforehand.
This is where reciprocity comes in. Reciprocity helps to build strong allies who can, in turn, provide access to critical information. Collecting favors by scratching someone else’s back is like influence in the bank. Those who have the political savvy know best how to spend these chips or favors wisely at key decision points.
What is the best approach for women who are uncomfortable with trading favors?
It happened to me. I was blindsided. I was an AVP with a track record of great accomplishments. My territory consistently performed well and exceeded budgeted gross and net income. I was able to grow the business significantly by adding new product lines and I had a reputation as a supportive and fair manager.
A re-organization in the company resulted in my position reporting to someone new; someone with whom I did not have a relationship and who had a reputation as being difficult. I kept my distance from him. He was part of the “boy’s club” that ran the company.
With the re-organization, a VP position became available. I let him know that I was interested. It was a natural step up given my experience. Many of my direct reports called him to lobby on my behalf. I truly believed that my achievement in the AVP role would land me the job, no question.
But that assumption was a big mistake! The newly appointed SVP had his own agenda for the territory and the business. Because I had no relationship with him, I didn’t know what was involved in the decision making process. What I thought was a shoe-in, ended up being a “blindside”. I did not get the promotion.
High potential women are more confident than ever. Recent studies by Catalyst show that we are getting better about letting others know of our achievements and asking for promotions. But if we continue to avoid the politics, we will continue to set ourselves up to fail.
The workplace is a political environment where decisions about who gets ahead, who gets access to scarce resources and plum assignments are made behind closed doors, doors that are often closed to women. Informal networks, sometimes referred to as the “boys club”, have the power and influence over career decisions. Because women don’t have access to these networks and don’t have access to critical information about how decisions are being made, they risk being blindsided. They simply don’t know the rules of the game.
According to research, there is still a gender gap when it comes to compensation. In 2011, women earned 17.8% less than men across different industries. Over a 40 year career, that amounts to $431,000! So a woman with the same education, same qualifications, and same experience as a man will earn almost a half a million dollars LESS over the course of her career simply because she is a woman and not a man!
The biggest part of the problem is that we don’t negotiate well for our first job. That first salary is the stepping stone for future offers and if we don’t receive fair compensation then, we begin our careers behind men with equal qualifications. Men are more confident negotiating their salaries and it works to their benefit. Typical female behavior is to say “thank you” and accept the job as offered.
How much influence do we have over our compensation?
According to Catalyst, these things work well for women:
- Making her achievements known to her manager, seeking feedback and credit as appropriate, asking for a promotion when deserved.
- Gaining access to powerful executive sponsors who “go to bat” for her behind closed doors.
- A corporate culture that encourages women to “self-promote” and fosters sponsorship in addition to mentorship.
I would add to this list:
- Understand your unique value proposition and learn how to articulate this across the organization.
- Negotiate for fair compensation and benefits with the knowledge that your value benefits the organization.
- Identify the “politics” and how decisions are made in your organization.
- Build a strategic network of people who can positively influence your career.
- Leverage these relationships. Ask for high profile assignments. Ask for promotions and new opportunities.
- Let others know your ambition.
Lastly, and perhaps most important, change your mind set about your potential.
You don’t need to know everything about a new position before you take it. You do need to build the case for how your past achievements demonstrate that you have the potential to be successful in a new position. Use this new mind set to lobby and negotiate for promotions and additional responsibilities. This is a great lesson we can learn from our male counterparts!
Technology has revolutionized the way we do business today. This New World of Work is leveraging the Information Revolution and in the process, transforming how, and where we work. Today work is moving from the cube to the cloud, but in the process it is creating an entirely new breed of worker.
My guest today, Terri Maxwell, is co-author of the book, The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud. Our discussion will explore this changing workplace environment and the best way for us to position ourselves to take advantage of the new opportunities this new work environment offers. The new world of work requires us to adapt our career strategies and Terry will offer some specific tips on how to do this to thrive in the cloud.
Terri Maxwell provides game-changing insights that transform businesses, people, and industries. She is an impactful, passionate leader known for simplifying formulas for success and igniting potential. In a career that spans more than 20 years, Terri has put her talents to work for large and small companies, and is a well-known consultant to small businesses and entrepreneurs seeking to accelerate growth. Throughout her career, Terri has delivered sound solutions to large and small companies, producing unprecedented results and igniting growth. She has launched more than twenty start-up brands, built numerous successful companies, and created a well-known and highly respected business incubator, Succeed on Purpose, Inc. in Irving, Texas. She is the author of Succeed on Purpose: Everything Happens for a Reason, a book teaching how to use life’s challenges to uncover your purpose, and co-author of The New World of Work: From the Cube to the Cloud.
On this show we frequently talk about women’s leadership and what it takes for women to be successful in business. Today we are going to discuss the 10 Core Competencies for Leadership and give you some practical advice and tips on how to up your leadership game.
Joining me on today’s show is leadership expert and women’s advocate Kathryn Kolbert.
Kathryn Kolbert is the Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College.
A public-interest attorney, journalist, and visionary in the not-for-profit world, Kathryn has an extraordinary depth of experience in collaborative leadership, educational programming, and civil-rights advocacy. She has been recognized by The National Law Journal as one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in America, and by The American Lawyer as one of 45 public- interest lawyers whose vision and commitment are changing lives.” In 1992, Kathryn argued the landmark case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey before the U.S. Supreme Court and has been credited with saving Roe v. Wade with what Jeffrey Toobin has called “one of the most audacious litigation strategies in Supreme Court history.
Before joining Barnard, Kathryn was the President and CEO of People for the American Way and People for the American Way Foundation, two of the nation’s premier civil rights organizations. During her tenure, People For the American Way’s Political Action Committee was cited by the National Journal as the most successful advocacy group of the 2008 election cycle.
Kathryn graduated cum laude from Temple University School of Law, and received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University’s School of Arts and Sciences. She has lectured at colleges and universities across the nation and is a frequent commentator on constitutional and women’s rights issues in the national media.
We are accustomed to the traditional career ladder model with the focus on moving up the ladder to be successful. Moving up the ladder is equivalent to advancing your career and we are always looking for opportunities to climb the next rung for the next promotion in our current company or elsewhere. But now a new model is emerging called the career lattice. This new model provides opportunities to improve our skills and take on new responsibilities. Yet the focus is lateral not upward.
Today we’re going to discuss how this new lattice model can benefit us in our careers and what we need to do to position ourselves to succeed in this model.
Joining me is Joanne Cleaver, author of The Career Lattice. Joanne’s company is Wilson-Taylor Associates, Inc. Joanne is a strategic communication consultant and business journalist, she earned a BSJ from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 1980 and an MSJ in 1981, with an emphasis on economic reporting. She has written extensively for consumer and business publications, including the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Crain’s New York Business, Working Woman, Working Mother, Pink, Home Office Computing, Small Business Computing, Ticker, and many others. She has authored seven books: four on business growth and three on family travel.
Designing the groundbreaking Working Woman Top 25 Companies for Executive Women list in 1998 and managing it for five more project cycles led her to develop the proprietary MOVE methodology that equips groups to advocate for women in their industries. This methodology stresses the business imperative for recruiting, retaining and advancing women, because more women means more sales, profits and growth. MOVE is the standard for advancing women in three industries.