A guide to body language in interpersonal communication

A guide to body language in interpersonal communication

When you communicate, you use more than just your voice; in fact, a big part of the information you convey is through non-verbal communication – Body language. We’ve all heard of body language and have a basic understanding of what it is, but how can you interpret and use body language in your everyday conversations with other people? This article will act as a guide to help you in understanding body language and how we can use it in our daily life:

What is body language?

Your body can reveal a lot about your true feelings, intentions and mood during a conversation. Whether you are aware of it or not, your mannerisms, behaviour, gestures and facial expressions can mirror exactly what you are feeling. Understanding body language and interpreting it can help you determine the true feelings and intentions of others during a conversation.

How Do We Communicate Through Body Language?

There are many different ways in which we communicate through body language. To effectively develop your interpersonal skills, it is important to understand these types of non-verbal communication and what they can reveal to others.

  • Eye contact – How do you look at someone? How do you hold eye contact? How often do you blink? These non-verbal behaviours can reveal many emotions such as anger, sadness, excitement, boredom, fear and stress. Maintaining direct eye contact also tells the other person that you are still paying attention.
  • Body movement and gestures – You can tell a lot about someone from how they stand, sit, slouch, move their hands or feet. Body movement, gestures and posture can communicate so many different things during a conversation. For instance, when people use excessive hand gestures while arguing, it can reveal the level of their hostility, anger or nervousness.
  • Facial expressions – Normally, this nonverbal signal is spontaneous and natural; arching your eyebrows, widening your eyes or pursing your lips can tell a lot about how you feel. Many people can not control their facial expressions when they experience emotions such as shock, excitement or fear. Facial expressions are also one of the few forms of communication that is the same across most different cultures and are therefore universally understood.
  • Touch and space – Physical contact can say a lot about your intentions and feelings. For example, a weak handshake can reveal to others that you lack confidence, whereas a tight grip of someone’s upper arm may reveal hostility or danger. In the same way, your proximity to someone may also tell many things during a conversation. If you are comfortable with someone, you might sit closely next to them, but you might feel naturally inclined to increase the social distance between you when you feel threatened.
  • Tone of voice – How you speak is also important if you want to send the right message to others. When giving condolences, it would be inappropriate to talk loud and cheerfully, for example. Your tone and inflection must match the content of your message. Your tone of voice might also differ according to the social setting you are in, e.g. a funeral vs. the workplace. When speaking to colleagues, you might want to show professionalism, while you want to show empathy when talking to family members at a funeral. Knowing when to adjust your tone can require a lot of emotional intelligence.

The importance of body language and nonverbal communication

In some instances, what you say and communicate through your body language can be two different things. If your body language and words do not match, it can cause the listener to suspect that you are deceitful. However, if you have a good understanding of non-verbal communication, you can ensure that your spoken words match your actions, and consequently, you can build trust and strong connections with others.

Mastering your non-verbal communication skills requires full focus and understanding of the rapid back-and-forth flow of interpersonal communication. Understanding body language can help you develop a higher level of emotional awareness and become a more effective communicator. It is essential to remain present during a conversation, interpret non-verbal cues from others, and stay aware of your own actions during any social interaction.

Eye contact: Its Role in Interpersonal Communication

Importance of Eye Contact In Communication

Making eye contact during a conversation is one of the best ways to show someone that you care about what they are saying.  Your eyes can also convey a wide range of other information and emotions without you even realizing it.  However, making eye contact isn’t necessarily a skill that comes naturally to everyone, and knowing what the appropriate amount of eye contact is can be challenging.

Using the appropriate amount of eye contact can help you to show interest, attentiveness and concern. In contrast, too much eye contact may be inappropriate and creepy, and a lack of eye contact can seem disinterested, inattentive and rude. There are many ways in which mastering the art of eye contact can help you with non-verbal communication, both in the workplace and out in the world.

Importance of Eye Contact In Communication

There are several reasons why eye contact can play a vital role in effective interpersonal communication.  Understanding how appropriate eye contact can influence communication is very important for self-awareness and personal growth. Here are a few reasons why eye contact can be so important:

  • It shows respect – In the Western culture, eye contact can be a crucial way that individuals show each other respect. This might not be the only way to show respect, but by looking someone in the eye during an interaction, we acknowledge that we regard them as equals in importance.
  • It shows that you are still following the conversation – By locking eyes with someone, it can be a sure-fire indicator that you still understand and are paying attention to what they are saying. By maintaining eye contact and giving regular feedback, you will ensure a successful verbal exchange with others.
  • It helps us bond with one another – There are certain neurons within the human brain that are highly sensitive to facial expressions and eye contact. This means that eye contact can act as a tool for establishing intimacy, empathy, linking emotional states and creating bonds between humans.
  • It helps us to see the true feelings and thoughts of others – Although eye contact can indeed reveal our innermost thoughts to others, the opposite is also true. By making eye contact with someone, we might be able to learn more about them. From someone’s eyes, you might be able to tell shyness, sadness, disgust or even affection.
  • It helps us convey confidence – When we are confident, we have little problem maintaining eye contact, whereas it is more difficult to look others in the eye when we lack self-confidence or when we are nervous. Maintaining eye contact can therefore show assertiveness and help us seem more confident and self-assured, especially within a professional context.

The Messages Our Eyes Convey in Communication

Winking, staring, and rolling your eyes, certain eye movements and behaviours have a generally known meaning. There are, however, other messages that we can convey with our eyes without even knowing it, and not all of them are necessarily positive. Here are some examples of messages that eyes might be giving:

  • Looking to the left – It is said that when a speaker breaks their gaze and looks left, they are trying to recollect information, while looking left and straight signifies an internal self-conversation before continuing the discussion.
  • Looking to the right – This can convey self-doubt or deceit from a speaker. Looking to the right might signify someone tapping into their imagination, whereas looking to the left might indicate that someone is activating their memories.
  • Direct eye contact – When a speaker maintains eye contact, it indicates that they are truthful. Listeners who keep eye contact come forth as attentive and interested.
  • Blinking frequently – This could indicate that the participants in a conversation are either very excited or excessively bored. To evaluate the meaning behind this cue, it might be necessary to analyze other non-verbal signals, such as gestures, posture, tension, etc.
  • Rubbing your eyes – The most common reason someone might be rubbing their eyes is tiredness, but this can also indicate frustration and iritation. Again it is essential to look at other non-verbal cues to analyze the meaning behind this behaviour.

Paying attention to the eye movements and other non-verbal behaviours that you and others might display is the best way to understand the true feelings and intentions of others. Knowing what signals you send with your eyes can also help you develop your interpersonal communication skills, which may benefit you in all aspects of your everyday life.

What are interpersonal communication skills?

What are interpersonal communication skills

Interpersonal communication skills are the abilities we need to communicate effectively, both verbally and non-verbally. Possessing these skills can help us to work well with others and interact effectively with others out in the world. These skills can be greatly valued in a work environment as they can help lead a business to higher success rates. Employees with pleasant demeanours and practical communication abilities are therefore more likely to do well in the workplace. They do better with teamwork, constructive feedback and within team-building situations.

These skills depend on a person’s ability to pick up on and interpret signals from other people to adequately and appropriately respond. They may be more developed in some people than others and can depend greatly on the personality type of certain individuals. To learn more about strong interpersonal skills, however, it is vital to first understand the concept of interpersonal communication.

What is Interpersonal Communication?

Interpersonal communication is the act of sharing information such as thoughts, emotions, and ideas verbally and non-verbally between people. By effectively sharing information, we can better understand and interact with others, both professionally and personally. With the digital age upon us and with so many different channels of communication available, it is becoming increasingly important for individuals to harness and develop how they communicate.

Elements of Interpersonal Communication

There are a few elements that play a role in effective interpersonal communication. These elements have been the subject of many research studies and can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Communicators – It goes without saying that any conversation needs at least two participants. Within this verbal transaction, there is always a sender and a receiver. However, these roles often switch between individuals as the conversation progresses because of the need for back and forth communication. There is, therefore, more than one communicator that will both receive and send messages in an interactive exchange.
  • The Message – This is more than just the information conveyed throughout a conversation. Things like non-verbal cues, posture, direct eye contact, gestures, facial expressions and body language can also contribute to the message received during communication. Non-verbal signals can be just as important to a message as spoken words, as they can convey our true feelings. For example, it is more challenging to hide emotions such as tension, sadness, disgust or affection with non-verbal behaviours as body language can reveal more than we think. The message that is then given as a response is known as feedback.
  • Noise – This can be defined as anything that can distort the message. With interpersonal communication, this includes physical noise but can also include disinterest, lack of eye contact or attention, complicated words, cultural differences and misunderstanding.
  • Channel – This refers to the means of communication, how it is transmitted. Communication can be face-to-face, telephonic, written. Different channels of communication rely on different verbal and non-verbal elements. For example, a telephone conversation is not reliant on body language but relies mainly on speech, whereas face-to-face conversations also rely on non-verbal communicators.
  • Context – The context in which communication takes place is very important for successful interpersonal communication. When a conversation takes place in a social setting, it requires different situational skills than a conversation in an office.

Why you should practice your interpersonal communication skills.

Even though some people may be born with the ability to use such skills effectively, there are many people to whom this ability does not come naturally. Of course, these are skills that can be learned and improved through practice. Here are some workplace benefits of developing your interpersonal communication skills:

  • Build your credibility and trustworthiness.
  • Build better relationships with team members.
  • Develop people skills, reduce misunderstandings and gain job satisfaction.
  • Enhanced problem-solving, negotiation and conflict management skills.
  • Battle shyness to improve confidence and assertiveness.

It is important to remain aware of your ability to communicate with those around you effectively. By practising self-awareness, you will be able to identify any problem points you may experience with interpersonal communication, allowing you to focus on development and self-growth.

7 Reasons Why You Need a Leadership Development Coach to Get Ahead

A couple of years ago I was asked to work with the Vice-President of a large health care organization and coach her on what it takes to have Executive Presence. After my initial meeting with HR, clearly, what they wanted was a mentor/trainer not necessarily a coach  as there is a a significant difference between a coach, a mentor and a trainer. The prospective client and I met to discuss her needs and expectations. Yes, indeed she too was expecting training in the areas of interpersonal skills, communication skills, personal branding, presentation skills, and leadership best practices.

At Corporate Class Inc. we have developed a unique robust Executive Presence training program. In fact, this program has gained us the international reputation we enjoy today. We began her private Executive Presence training and this allowed me to go a bit deeper in some of the issues that impacted several areas of her career. I noted after the training that the next logical step was to engage in private coaching and work on her thinking process which we decided was going to be critical in advancing her personal development one step further.

Towards the end of our training engagement, and with great accolades from her CEO on her growth and development, my client shared confidentially that the current CEO was leaving. The departing CEO was encouraging my client to throw her hat in the ring for the CEO role. He said he would support her, that she was a great fit for that role. She was hesitant and didn’t think she had a real chance of landing that position. This hesitation was undoubtedly caused by some toxic thinking and confirmed to me that coaching was a definite must. We then engaged in private executive coaching sessions for 6 months.

The job interviews started just towards the end of our engagement, perfect timing. My client did a lot of good work during those 6 months and she had successfully shifted her mindset. Two months later, over a nice dinner, we celebrated her becoming the CEO or her organization. By the end of the first year in her CEO role, we resumed executive coaching and once again, great work was done and she reached new stretch goals she had set for herself.  

Before we get into why you need a leadership development coach to get ahead, it’s important to understand the difference between coaching, mentoring and training because it may set you up for disappointments if your expectations aren’t met.

What’s the difference between Coaching, Mentoring and Training?

Coaching

According to the International Coach Federation (ICF), an association and regulator body for coaches defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  Coaching isn’t about giving advice or providing roadmaps telling the client what to do and how to do the job. Coaching is about helping clients with their thinking process so that they can gain life changing insights. The client has the answer to his/her issues. Unfortunately, often the client is too busy to make thoughtful decisions or find the better solution to solve the problem or situation. They react instead of thinking, feeling, and choosing.

Mentoring

Many use the terms coaching, mentoring and training interchangeably, yet the meaning of each is quite different.

An article titled ‘What’s the Difference Between a Coach and a Mentor?’, published in Forbes stated that, “Mentors are successful people who share their hard-earned wisdom to provide insight and guidance as a mentee encounters challenges along their journey. They typically function in a reactive capacity, responding to issues as they arise.”

The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has distinguished that, “Mentoring may include advising, counselling and coaching whilst the coaching process does not include advising or counselling.”

Training

A trainer gives advice based on their expertise in that specific field. Mentoring and training have similarities yet still, it is not the same. Mentoring is more informal and usually done one-to-one. The mentor may meet the mentee in a coffee shop and the mentee is for the agenda. Training is more regulated and typically done in larger groups. Although, often for the Senior Executives, it is done one-on-one as they do not wish to be part of a larger group. Training is like teaching, the trainer shares knowledge in one very specific area or topic.

Two diverse serious businesswomen discussing business project working together in office, serious female advisor and client talking at meeting, focused executive colleagues brainstorm sharing ideas

Here are 7 Reasons Why You Need a Leadership Development Coach to Get Ahead

You are at a time in your career where you have had the opportunity to attend several training programs, you have a mentor, and now you need an executive business coach. Why is that so important?

  1. Help you define your goals and make them shine so you are motivated to accomplish them.
    Having goals ensures the coaching process is solution-focused and developmental instead of remedial. Strategies are developed for each goal and they perform several functions. They help the coachee see their goals as more tangible and possible by breaking each goal down into stages. They also ensure the coachee does things differently. Goals without strategies that group actions together, end up with a long “to-do” list that can become overwhelming. The real value of the coaching is not so much in achieving the goals but in the learning journey the coachee goes through, new confidence developed, new skills learned, and in building new habits.

  2. Ensure you are creating action steps that will actually get done.
    Once you have clear strategies, it’s time to set actions. For each strategy, list a set of required actions to achieve the goal.
    These actions are:
    a. Helpful – the action relates directly to the strategy and will help you achieve it.
    b. Likely to happen – the action is clearly worded, challenging and achievable, specific, and within a timeframe.

  3. Benefit from a third party sounding board and totally confidential.
    Maintaining confidentiality is a must and is expected of the coach in accordance with the ICF Code of Ethics. Unless there are special agreements put into place prior to the start of the engagement, the coach is bound to confidentiality with client information per stakeholder agreements and pertinent laws.

  4. Leadership is always changing and your coach helps you navigate these uncharted territories.
    Changes are usually difficult and need to be approached iteratively. It is the coach’s responsibilities to help the client formulate the process for the implementation of the changes and consider the impact on all parties.

  5. Benefit from the opportunity of having someone reflect back to you some of your thoughts.
    Leaders are often people who get things done but also less adapt at being self-aware and they rarely take time to reflect. The coach helps the active leader develop the discipline of reflection to help them maximize learning from what they do in life.

  6. Be challenged by powerful questions to help your thinking process.
    The coach is a “Master of Asking”. The questions aren’t meant to trick you or make you feel inadequate. They are meant to help you think deeper about the issues or challenges you are facing. The clients often underestimate how smart they are and that in fact they have the answer, they just haven’t had a chance to properly think and they feel stuck. Anxiety sets in  and clarity of thoughts disappear. We often get the wrong answer because we ask the wrong questions. You can count on your coach to ask the right questions.

  7. Broaden your perspectives.
    There may be countless ways to solve a problem, approach a challenge but you are exhausted, stressed and don’t seem to be thinking as clearly as you would like to, or maybe you just seem to be stuck and can’t think out of the box and come up with a more creative solution. Your coach will help you explore solutions from different angles and check on the validity of your assumptions perhaps so that you get a fuller picture of what’s going on. Broadening your perspectives means you are expanding your worldview, experience and point of view.

Make sense? To find out more contact us at 416-967-1221.

8 Trail-Blazing Women Leaders to Inspire Your Career

The current workforce has dealt women setback after setback during the pandemic. A report by McKinsey found that women experienced more exhaustion, burn out, and pressure than men in the workplace, and it’s no wonder that they also found that one in four women are considering leaving the workforce.

Many women who lost their jobs to COVID are now looking to re-enter the workforce as pandemic restrictions loosen. It’s important that women are empowered to return to the workforce and forge their own paths toward success and leadership. If you’re a woman looking for motivation to restart your career or climb the corporate ladder, check out this list of eight women leaders who blazed trails in their respective industries. 

1. Julie Sweet

Taking the number one spot on Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business, Accenture CEO Julie Sweet is blazing trails as a prominent business leader. With a bachelor’s degree from Claremont McKenna College and JD from Columbia Law, Sweet is breaking barriers in the C-suite with her unconventional background. Her background as a lawyer gives her an edge in business, helping her put clients first, make sense of vast amounts of information, and act with integrity. 

Sweet is no stranger to breaking gender barriers. After seven years as a senior lawyer, she became the ninth female partner at law firm Cravath, Swaine and Moore. She acknowledges that being a woman in corporate America is a difficult road to travel on and has since prioritized diversity and transparency in order to build trust and accountability as a leader. Inspired by Julie Sweet and eager to promote diversity and inclusion as a workplace leader? Check out her quote below to help you get started.

“Treat inclusion and diversity like every other business priority, which means you set goals, you measure, you have data, you have accountable executives, and you have an execution plan.”

Julie Sweet

2. Helen Hanna Casey

Although women in real estate make up 67% of the industry, leadership across the board has yet to accurately reflect that statistic. One powerful woman in the industry is Helen Hanna Casey, CEO of Howard Hanna Services. Named the most powerful woman in real estate and one of Women’s Business Magazine’s Top 200 Women in Business (among numerous awards), Casey demonstrates that female leadership can take a real estate company to new heights. 

Casey serves as a powerful role model for all women leaders aspiring toward the C-suite and is also a prominent leader at industry events. Check out her quote below for inspiration on how focusing on the success of your employees will bring your company growth. 

“One of your goals has to be that you want your company and employees to expand and grow. […] You have to look at the talents of your people and decide how they can help expand the business.”

Helen Hanna Casey 

3. Shan-Lyn Ma 

Shan-Lyn Ma is disrupting the wedding industry with her company, Zola, which is on the fast-track to becoming a unicorn (a privately-held startup that’s valued at over $1 billion). Founded in 2013, Ma used her previous experience as a product manager to revitalize the online wedding industry and provide a better experience that customers love. As someone who started her entrepreneurial journey after years of work experience, she’s showing other women that it’s never too late to switch up your career. If you have a great idea that solves a problem, hard work can lead you to success. 

It can be hard being a woman in business, so Ma recommends leaning on a network of other female founders or professionals for advice. If you’re working on building your own network, take some of inspiration from her below on how it’s possible to do it all. 

“I think every founder has to be a motivational leader in order to build a great team and business. I do feel an extra responsibility to show it’s possible to be a woman, be a respected leader, and run a fast-growing startup.”

Shan-Lyn Ma

4. Cynthia Marshall

Cynthia Marshall is a strong woman leader who is changing the standards for diversity and inclusion in the male-dominated world of the NBA. As the first Black woman to be CEO of the Dallas Mavericks, Marshall has worked hard to develop a company culture where anyone at any level of the business can speak their mind. She accomplished this by having a personal one-on-one meeting with everyone in the Mavericks organization when she started. From there, she’s made sure that everyone has a voice and that all cultures feel welcome in her organization. 

As a woman, we’re often faced with pressure to conform to certain standards of what a leader is, but those standards are so often biased. Remember that being a true leader is leading as yourself and bringing your authentic personality and work to the table everyday. If you are ever told to change who you are, let the following quote remind you that your identity is important. 

“When you fundamentally try to change who I am, when you tell me I can’t say blessed, when you tell me I’m too loud, you’re actually telling me you don’t want me to be a Black woman.”

Cynthia Marshall

5. Rosalind Brewer

With decades of experience in C-level positions across major companies like Starbucks, and Sam’s Club, Rosalind Brewer became one of the first Black female CEOs of a Fortune 500 company in 2021. Currently, she is #27 on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. Despite her vast experience and status as such a prominent figure in business, Brewer still faces the effects of bias and prejudice in the industry. She’s reflected on how her identity as a Black woman has caused others to underestimate her place in the C-suite and mistake her for someone of a lower position. 

If you’ve ever experienced judgement and prejudice in the workplace, emulate Rosalind Brewer’s strength and keep her quote in mind when you need the courage to push back and demand the respect you deserve in the workplace.

“You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect.”

Rosalind Brewer 

6. Melanie Perkins

Melanie Perkins is the CEO of tech unicorn, Canva, and is serving as inspiration for young female entrepreneurs across the globe. Recently, Canva’s valuation was set at $15 billion, making her and her co-founder husband billionaires off an idea they cooked up at university. Aiming to challenge design and tech giants in the industry, Canva is a graphic design platform that allows you to create things without the steep learning curve of programs like Adobe. 

However, the Australian native had a rough time getting her company started up. Being far from the network of tech connections and funds that is Silicon Valley, Perkins had to take up kite-surfing just to get her foot in the door with investors at a kite-surfing competition in Australia. She was successful at securing funding and the rest is history. Without her vision and drive, Canva wouldn’t be around to make graphic design more accessible to all. For inspiration on being a visionary and a leader in your industry, follow Melanie’s advice below.

“As a leader, I feel my job is to set the vision and the goals for the company, and then to work with everyone to empower them to dream big and crazy.”

— Melanie Perkins

7. Mari Elka Pangestu

As World Bank Managing Director of Development Policy and Partnerships, Mari currently leads the research and data group at the World Bank using her expertise in policy and management. However, she is well-known for previously serving as Minister of Trade for seven years and Minister of Tourism for 3 years in Indonesia. As Minister of Trade, she put a special focus on growing Indonesia’s economy and finding ways for women entrepreneurs to have better access to trade.

With a doctorate in economics, Mari has also led as an expert on global policy regarding food research, geopolitics, sustainable developments, and renewable energy. Although the international trade field is mainly dominated by men, Mari’s life and career show us that with hard work and dedication, your expertise and experience will be rewarded with high levels of leadership. If you’re interested in a job as a woman in trade, check out Pangestu’s quote on how tourism benefits women. 

“Tourism is a very serious industry: it creates one out of 11 jobs, and benefits women and local communities, in particular.”

Dr. Mari Elka Pangestu

8. Kathrin Jansen 

Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Development at Pfizer, Katherin Jansen has played a major part in Pfizer’s global success. With 28 years of experience leading vaccine development, Jansen recently led a 650-person team to pioneer one of the first COVID-19 vaccines. 

Although the race to a vaccine was one fraught with urgency, Jansen showed true and effective leadership by not sacrificing quality for speed. Jansen believes the science behind her vaccine speaks for itself and that should inspire confidence from the people. With a woman at the helm of such a leading scientific accomplishment, Jansen is a role model for other women in science. See her quote below for how women in STEM can help each other succeed. 

“For me it was important to support female colleagues and make sure they have the opportunities, and you know, just look out for them.” 

Dr. Katherin Jansen

All women in the workplace should be empowered to advocate for their own career growth, but we can’t do it alone. Take inspiration from these examples of successful women leaders and motivate yourself to achieve just as much or more. Whether you’re interested in tech, business, real estate, sports, science, or trade, there’s a female leader out there who’s blazed a trail for you to succeed after them.

Ready to take your leadership to the next level? Try a leadership workshop or coaching to grow your skills and reach your career goals.

Executive Presence for Women Leaders in 2021

Exuding Executive Presence adds a layer of challenges and opportunities for women to excel in the workplace. Diane Craig, President & Founder, Corporate Class Inc., shares her observations.

We are slowly and steadily overcoming the various challenges resulting from the pandemic. We have more lessons to learn as workplaces worldwide are moving towards a hybrid model of work-from-home and from working in the office, which requires current and aspiring leaders to step up and up-skill to lead teams.

Women, in general, tend to take on more responsibilities in raising children and ensuring their households run as efficiently as their offices do.

But, how does one exude Executive Presence, 24/7, with no breaks and no clear distinction in their work and home spaces?

Expert coach, Diane Craig, answers key questions to help address this challenge in 2021.

What defines Executive Presence now as we move towards a hybrid model of work cultures?

Executive Presence always has and will always come down to how you show up in any situation and how you present yourself.

Your presence and engagement during a conversation in the office might be somewhat different from how you show up on an online platform, however, the basic guidelines remain the same.

When you enter your office or a boardroom for a meeting, others immediately develop a first impression of how you are doing today — if you look happy or weighed down, if you will be able to contribute to a conversation effectively, etc. This first impression sets the tone for the rest of the engagement.

Energy flows where intention goes, and those around you pick up on where your energy is flowing at the moment.

Executive Presence is really about the ability to connect authentically and to inspire and motivate those around you.

We say that inspiring is the pull, motivating is the push.

So, if I want to pull my team in and engage them, I, as a leader, need to show up authentically.

For some, let’s say you are an introvert, at times, you will have to stretch yourself, and express yourself more passionately than you normally would to show you are excited about what you are talking about. This may not be your preferred communication style, but that’s what it will take for your message to be as impactful as you want it to be.

As we start to move fluidly between working from home and the office, there are more demands on most women, many of whom are within the sandwich generation. How do we manage that?

First, it needs to be understood and communicated within the family. A friend of mine said while her children were role-playing, her five-year-old told his playmate, “Can’t you see I am on a Zoom call?” while pretending to work on a laptop. We were both taken aback because we would have never thought of saying things like that when we were five. This just speaks to how our children pick up on the behaviours around them and also have developed their understanding of our challenges.

The second most important step to exuding executive presence, after showing the best version of your authentic self, is to be present in the moment. We need to navigate these situations using solutions like sticky notes on the door indicating your office is off-limits right now, scheduling meetings around your children’s schedule if required, and communicating your needs to your partner and team. Of course, it isn’t going to be perfect, and it takes a lot of practice, however, it lays the foundation for your success.

A good leader needs to adapt to unforeseen challenges to engage and motivate those around them under any circumstance. You have to be that role model.

How does developing Executive Presence differ for women?

Over the last 30 years, I have coached, worked with, and mentored many women. Two things I hear most often are:

  1. they doubt themselves a lot more than their male counterparts and
  2. their passion often gets equated with “being emotional.”

Both result from systemic practices and stereotypes that are believed to be true and are not backed by evidence.

The first factor results from the old style of leadership where command and control ruled the boardroom.

We think of men as confident and women as capable in our teams, and that needs to change.

As a woman, if you are invited to speak about something in a meeting or conference, it’s because you are an expert in the field and you should own it. It’s the same with applying for jobs. The lack of confidence keeps most women from getting through doors, not for lack of experience, expertise, or abilities, more often it is just about confidence and interrupting that self-doubt.

That’s why I love organizations such as The White Ribbon, whose mandate is to enable men to help develop women’s voices. It’s important for women to have male mentors and champions who help them overcome their fears and self-doubt, which are often baseless.

If women are passionate about an idea or a project, they are often perceived as emotional especially in non-inclusive workplaces.

In developing your Executive Presence as a woman, be true to yourself and remain authentic. This requires you to be assertive. Asserting oneself means respecting yourself by speaking up your mind, respecting others by acknowledging their point of view and, without expectation of them necessarily agreeing with you.

This is different from aggression, which disrespects others; and from passivity, which disrespects yourself. If you are passive-aggressive, you disrespect both yourself and those around you.  The benefit of developing an Executive Presence is that you show up like you belong.

Any tips on developing executive presence for women leaders?

Truly believe in your abilities and experiences. Do not invalidate yourself or diminish your power.

In order to be anointed as a leader, you first have to be perceived as one.

If you don’t believe you have that presence when you’re in a meeting, when you’re presenting, when you’re interacting with others, it’s going to be difficult for anyone to be influenced or persuaded by you.

They’re still going to doubt that you’re that leader that I want to work with, that I want to listen to, that I want to role model and that I want to learn from.

The secret of executive presence for women, in many ways, is the same as it is for men…

  • It is displaying your authenticity, your motivations and inspirations, and living them.
  • It involves speaking the truth with assertiveness and not aggressiveness.
  • It involves showing up at your authentic best, being present in the moment, and communicating challenges to your immediate loved ones and your teams to overcome challenges to be the best versions of ourselves.

Are you a woman leader ready to build your executive presence?

At Corporate Class, our expert facilitators provide in-person and live online leadership and executive presence training for women. Learn more about our Individual Training programs or get in touch with us to host a customized Business Workshop.

You can also master your Executive Presence skills with CCI’s Online Self-Paced Leadership Presence System!
leadership presence training program

Corporate Class Inc. Launches The Centre for Diversity and Inclusion

centre for diversity and inclusion

Corporate Class Inc. (CCI), industry experts and thought leaders in the leadership training and coaching space, announce the launch of the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) to further move the needle on diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

CDI aims to help organizations and leaders be inclusive, free of bias and discrimination, while educating and training individuals through interactive, experiential methods to move towards safe spaces for dialogue and initiate action. Dr.Georgette Zinaty, Executive Vice-President, CCI, will be the Practice Lead for the new division under the CCI brand.

Why Are We Launching the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion?

Around the world, we have been witnessing movements, activism, and unfortunate events underscoring the need for inclusive leadership that supports ensuring marginalized groups get a seat at the decision-making table. From #MeToo to Black Lives Matter, different minority groups have been pushing against systemic fault lines to be heard.

As subject matter experts and long-term advocates for diversity, equity, and inclusion, we at Corporate Class Inc. (CCI) want to leverage our skills and expertise to help organizations move beyond strategies on paper to make inclusivity a reality in the workplace. Thus, the idea for the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) was born.

Our mission is to help organizations and leaders build a better way of life for our diverse workforce, and move people from good intentions to the integration of inclusion. We conducted extensive research and drew from our experience and expertise to create a plethora of:

When employees feel respected, their engagement and performance increases, leading to a rise in the overall team performance.

Our CDI offerings aim to help organizations and leaders achieve this phenomenon by being free of bias and discrimination, right from recruiting and training to empowering their employees.

What Does the Future of Leadership Look Like?

The blog from our Executive Vice President, Dr. Georgette Zinaty, Why Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is No Longer Nice to Have – It’s a Must Have, delved into the current state of leadership and the increasingly discriminatory effect the pandemic has had on women and marginalized groups. In terms of job loss and greater marginalization, the most affected by the pandemic are women and BIPOC communities, to the extent that we have seen a regression in the progress made for equity.

Research and recent data point to an increase in organizational performance when there is true diversity and inclusion within organizations, particularly at the senior levels.

Indeed, inclusive organizations gain the competitive advantage of being able to attract the best talent, with diverse skill sets and perspectives, who will contribute to the employer’s goals with their insights and knowledge. This competitive advantage increases when employees feel a sense of belonging and are invested in their own professional growth and that of their employer.

Therefore, inclusive leadership is a must. Not just from a social perspective, but also from an economic outlook. Organizations and individual leaders must buckle up and focus on reducing inequity and creating more inclusive environments where diverse individuals feel valued, respected and secure.

How Does CDI Plan to Build Better Leaders?

Many organizations today are making efforts to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive in their culture. However, having a DEI plan or committee is a start but not enough to address systemic changes that are often needed.

We at CDI can help align policies and practices across business functions and verticals to integrate DEI strategies and leverage qualitative and quantitative methods to determine policy gaps, identify a baseline and critical areas for measurement, along with supporting the setting of metrics and goals to measure performance.

Below we highlight some of the steps CDI aims to work with clients on.

For results, we work with you to identify, assess and create measurable action points to ensure the short and long-term sustainability of D&I strategies in the workplace and generate tangible outcomes. The results allow organizations to elevate the quality of life for employees and be a true employer of choice.

Through our assessments, consulting, training and surveys, we go beyond the usual data and dimensions generally tracked by organizations, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation. We work closely with clients to understand their requirements for hiring, employee retention and engagement, promoting employees, supply chain and vendors, among other things, to determine how we can help them develop a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture.

We work on the what, the how, the why and the when. Today, great organizations must have DEI strategies for a strong talent pipeline and as part of their larger ESG strategy; and they lead by example. Let us help you raise the bar and be the best example in your sector.

CDI is a resource for organizations and leaders who aim toward making D&I strategies easily accessible and implementable for their teams, their business and individual leaders alike.

We want to create a new generation of leaders who take the effort to create sustainable change, not just from a competitive advantage perspective but also to create a more equitable social order.

We want to further move the needle on diversity and inclusion through effective strategy, policy-making, and training, so we can have a brighter and more inclusive future.

Here’s more about our new division, the Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI).

What is Leadership Presence? (And Why It’s So Important in 2021)

Think of the most famous actors and politicians in our day and age — Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, Barack Obama – they instantly command your attention when they walk into a room to give a speech or step onto the red carpet.

Why is that?

It is not simply because they are famous, but rather, they possess presence.

One key factor of presence – and in turn of these famous figures — is that they command the attention of others almost effortlessly. 

People stop and stare, wanting to know what’s going to happen next.

What Does Leadership Presence Look Like, Feel Like and Sound Like?

People who show up with Leadership Presence:

  1. Look like: they are comfortable, humble and engaged
  2. Feel like: they are warm, friendly and approachable
  3. Sound like: they speak with conviction, clarity and respectfully

So, what is leadership presence?

At Corporate Class Inc., we define leadership presence as the ability to connect authentically, build confidence in others, and inspire and motivate people into action.

leadership presence

Some say Executive Presence is a subset of Leadership Presence, but we believe these terms are interchangeable.

When you look at the description of each according to different authors, they are most often referring to the same thing.

The reason why Leadership Presence is more prevalent now is that it is more inclusive.

Leadership Presence is something that shows up at every level of the organization, not only at the Senior or C-Suite levels.

Building confidence requires a good amount of self-regard, which is all about self-respect and self-worth. The leadership implications of self-regard expand further than many realize.

Your self-confidence gives you the ability to:

  • inspire (the pull)
  • motivate (the push)
  • innovate (create)

It also commands respect and trust from others. It helps fuel success!

Why is Leadership Presence Important?

“Presence is the ability to connect authentically with the thoughts and feelings of others.” (Halpern and Lubar)

As is evident by this statement, the underlying structure of presence is the ability to connect.

This ability to connect, or what is commonly known as “charisma,” is what brings people and teams together.

A charismatic leader or actor can command your attention in a room full of their peers because they connect with you on a deeper level, which increases their ability to motivate and inspire their followers or fans.

This is why the world is moving away from the more toxic and traditional ideas of leadership such as the “Command and Control” style and towards a more authentic, inclusive and empathetic style of leadership.

Our favourite teachers, bosses, peers, and clients are those who form meaningful relationships with us, champion us, and push us to do better for ourselves.

Hence, every aspiring leader must work on their ability to connect authentically which requires a great deal of vulnerability at times.

As the CTI report states: “Executive Presence alone won’t get you promoted…but its absence will impede your progress.”

The extraordinary thing about leadership presence is its accessibility. In fact, it’s attainable to everyone with the will to succeed.

At CCI, we strongly believe that:

Leadership Presence is neither exclusive nor elusive.™

Developing Leadership Presence

There is a common misconception that the ability to develop leadership presence:

  • comes naturally to a person
  • does not come naturally
  • only comes to those who have been given certain opportunities

Many believe that a person without this ability to connect or have charisma is out of luck.

However, as experts in our business, and the authors Halpen and Lubar, we agree that this is not the case.

The authors state, “presence is a set of skills, both internal and external, that virtually anyone can develop and improve” (Halpern and Lubar 3).

Yes, leadership presence is something you can develop. But…

It requires commitment because it is multi-faceted, it is about developing core competencies for the role you’re in, and, more importantly now more than ever, it is about continually working on developing your emotional intelligence, social skills and interpersonal savvy.

These are skills in low supply at all levels and most difficult to develop according to research stated in the Korn Ferry Leadership Architect research and technical guide. If you’d like more information on how to develop leadership presence, we would be happy to send you a copy of this research.

The Elements of Leadership Presence

At CCI, our research and experience has taught us that there are in fact several elements of leadership presence and we have combined all of these under 4 key pillars:

First Impressions

Sometimes we nail it sometimes we fail it. What are the key components of First Impressions? Your likeability, credibility, power and appearance. As Joan tells Alan Turing in the movie The Imitation Game, “It doesn’t matter how smart you are, they will not help you if they don’t like you.”

Communication Skills

We communicate verbally and non-verbally. Both methods are equally important when it comes to speaking with clarity, brevity and impact.

Pay attention to the body language, the small words we use that sometimes carry so much weight. For example:  Asking “Why” may sound accusatory, “You should” may denote a negative aggressive tone.

The way you communicate reflects on your personal brand as well. Your personal brand is your reputation currency and you must manage it — if you don’t others will happily do it for you and it may not be what you want to be known for.

Purpose Driven Leadership Competencies

The inclusive leader is self-aware and provides a safe environment for all to have their voices heard without fear of retribution.  Great leaders understand the important role emotional intelligence plays in all interactions and how to stretch their leadership style when needed in order to get things done.

Commitment

If it’s worth living, it’s worth recording. Mine for goals, define them, refine them and attach a strategy to each of them. For each strategy, develop an action commitment plan to help you reach every one of your goals.

By including the elements of leadership presence in your leadership style, you’ll connect better and faster, know how to project credibility, stay calm under pressure, captivate an audience and much more!

Benefits of Leadership Presence Training

Leadership Presence Training with an expert is beneficial and recommended for all professionals, as it helps individuals see and understand themselves from an external lens, and develop their strengths and improve on their weaknesses.

The process for leadership presence training requires:

Commitment: a commitment to introspect, reflect and work on certain tendencies and overcome insecurities in challenging situations to assert one’s presence.

Readiness to learn: It also includes the learning of new techniques to help become a more persuasive and influential leader.

Apply the training: Finally, for ultimate effectiveness, it’s critical to take this learning and apply it in your daily work, and look for assignments that will require you to use these newly learned skills.

We learn 70% on the job, 20% from people and 10% from training.

Once you apply your training in a real situation, the stakes are higher and the learning is truly experiential and transformative.

Often, this is not an easy journey and hence, requires an experienced coach.

We have learned from our experience, and this exercise is always cathartic for each individual, in addition to helping them move up the ladder in their careers.

Leadership presence training enables each person to assert their individuality and form more meaningful and deep relationships with those around them, which results in stronger teams, higher performance, and a culture of empowering ourselves and those around us.

At Corporate Class Inc., our team has conducted extensive research on executive and leadership presence. We also have a combined experience running into triple-digit years in the leadership training and coaching space. Our goal is to empower people to unlock their potential. Let us help you on your journey to empower yourself and others.

Master your leadership presence skills with CCI’s Online Self-Paced Leadership Presence System!

leadership presence training program

Works Cited

Halpern, Belle Linda and Kathy Lubar. Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire. New York: Gotham Books, 2003. Print.

Effective Leadership in Changing Times — Looking Back at the Year Where the World Had to Pivot

effective leadership in changing times

Is there anything to be said about the past year of dealing with COVID-19 that hasn’t been said already?

I believe, yes, there is. The year 2020-21 has been the year of momentous change where every individual, irrespective of race, faith, gender, socioeconomic class, and organizations across sectors had to pivot.

The world witnessed unprecedented changes and our collective ability to adapt to challenging times and channel our leadership abilities on an individual and community level.

As a leadership coach and mentor, it was hard to miss the resilience of individuals and organizations, the power of teams and that of our leaders in hard times.

How did professional development and effective leadership training adapt to the ‘new normal’?

The first few weeks were unsettling because of the lack of knowledge about COVID-19 and preventative measures. We at CCI chose to work from home for what I originally thought would be a few weeks. I quickly realized this would be a lot longer hiatus and reached out to each of our clients to let them know we were still there for them. Like many within our industry, we had to pivot to a completely virtual setting to deliver all our programs and services.

Prior to 2020, I spent many hours at airports and lounges while traveling worldwide to support our clients. I would spend time in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and many places around the world to deliver training and private coach some of our elite senior level clients.

Now, both our clients and I have benefited from virtual sessions, which make better use of our time, financial resources, and the reduction in travel for non-essential reasons, has also helped the environment.

My leadership takeaway for the year has been to review our strategy and processes to be more efficient constantly.

I didn’t expect us to be equally successful at training or facilitating online, especially when dealing with topics such as body language and presentation skills.

However, through effective leadership training and interactive communication, we could easily replicate results in our virtual sessions, as indicated from our client’s feedback. Our success with our virtual sessions demonstrated how many non-essential processes we hang on to out of habit.

As human beings, we need connection. Connecting might be challenging for some when the recipient may choose not to have their camera on, limiting the visual cues available to the speaker. But I have learned that when the speaker chooses to be open, warm and authentic, listeners and team members do engage with the speaker through different means.

With that in mind, here are some of my takeaways on how organizations have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and are developing leaders who are thoughtful, inclusive and authentic:

We are human beings who value and need connections

Our evolving leaders need to rethink how to build connections and ensure the well-being of individuals within their teams given the complexities of a virtual workplace

In the first few months of the pandemic, we saw a surge in organizations doing happy hours and free pizzas for employees to maintain team morale. At first it was different, but then ‘Zoom fatigue’ sunk in and the novelty of these types of activities wore off, as the pandemic extended beyond a year, with several lockdowns and restrictions, impacting individual circumstances and at times, mental health.  

  • Do virtual social activities really help employees feel better equipped to handle their circumstances?
  • Did it empower them with the tools to demonstrate their skills online?

These are questions each team leader/organization must ask themselves before determining the right method to provide value to their employees.

For example, one of our biggest successes over the past year has been our How to Fascinate Workshop because it’s entertaining, informative and helps team members understand themselves and each other better.  

The workshop allows teams to bond, gain greater insights as to why people behave the way they do and how to ensure everyone can work together more effectively. It really is fascinating.

There are opportunities everywhere

The only way to really achieve success is to make your people your highest priority.

I delved into the increased resource efficiency with reduced traveling at the start of this blog, but I need to make a special mention of how much that has helped individuals. I noticed many of my clients benefiting from the reduced travel. They have more time for their families and themselves, and it’s less tiresome.

Many clients have told me they have been able to use the time to focus on their personal goals and health, while still being as productive as before.

Organizations and leaders must reconsider their work culture policies about working from home and traveling for work, as well as ensuring that employees are creating work-life boundaries that allow them to thrive.

Private coaching for your teams is a great way to invest in their personal development

In the first few months of the pandemic, we saw an increased interest from organizations about providing private coaching for their teams to help them deliver their presentations, sales pitches, and lead their teams virtually.

The demand for it led us to create our Leadership Presence: Online Training Program. Such programs empower leaders with the skills, confidence, and knowledge they need about human behaviour to inspire confidence and foster trust among a diverse team of employees.

Now, what can individuals do, you ask?

Here are my lessons for you on how to become an effective leader

Take the time to reflect!

This is my biggest advice for you.

Although traveling to work every day may have been stressful for some of you, the everyday commute provided us with an opportunity to reflect on our lives, listen to our favorite podcast and give our brain a break from our work. This time is essential. The only way to adapt and embrace change properly involves a lot of reflection and introspection.

Please take the time out in a day to reflect, and it can be as short as 10 minutes. This time will allow you to be more creative and approach your challenges from a different perspective. Maybe you do this by going for a walk or getting up a bit earlier than everyone in your household to have me time.

Yesterday’s leader is not tomorrow’s leader

Adapt to changing times.

The last year has demonstrated how leaders who lead with empathy perform better. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Arden, is a perfect example. Not only is New Zealand one of the most successful countries in the fight against COVID-19, but it is also a source of inspiration to many because of its use of empathy to inspire.

Our ideas of effective leadership have changed, and leaders today are expected to be personable, empathetic and inclusive. Authoritarian leadership has not performed well across the world.

Invest in yourself

This advice on how to become an effective leader is tied to the previous two points. With increased flexibility and the rapid changes in leadership expectations, it is vital that you invest in yourself.

Be it choosing a program to develop your leadership and presentation skills, your emotional intelligence, understanding how your brain works to improve your performance, or understanding how to lead diverse teams virtually.

I recommend taking the time to reflect and identify your strengths, weaknesses, and identify opportunities for professional development.

leadership presence training program

You need to up-skill to be the leader of tomorrow. And, there’s no better time than now.

More power to you!

Why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is No Longer Nice to Have – It’s a Must Have

When organizations set goals and aspirations related to diversity, equity and inclusion we see this reflected in their mission and vision statements.

These goals are quite often ambitious.  To their credit, many organizations may very well have good intentions in terms of their diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, however, the challenges in achieving their outcomes often rests in the organization’s abilities to identify the what and the how.

What do you truly want to accomplish and how will you do that effectively?

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion —The WHAT:

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) it will take 100 years for the gender gap to close and for there to be gender equality.

Recent research validates that the gender gap is alive and well, with the pay gap equally existent.  To give context to the slow pace of change, in 1999, the number of female CEOs of fortune 500 companies was 2%, today that number is 6.6% or 33 women, despite more women in the workforce than ever, and women holding higher levels of education than their male counterparts.

Women, women of colour and Latina women have been the hardest hit by COVID 19 and exiting the workforce at alarming rates.

Why?

In some cases, COVID-19 has increased the burden women have always had of balancing work and life, and compounded with the stay-at-home restrictions it can be difficult, overwhelming and challenging to raise a family and work from home. In other cases, women in service industries or Pink Ghettos – industries dominated by women, were closed indefinitely due to COVID-19, ensuring these most vulnerable women exited the workforce.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion —The HOW:

We must begin to seriously ask, as leaders and as organizations:

  • How are we supporting this important segment of our population and workforce?
  • How will we ensure they have the tools and skills to re-enter the workforce stronger and better than pre-COVID 19?

Some key statistics, according to an RBC report, amid the pressures of the pandemic: 

  • Men are picking up jobs at thrice the rate that women are leaving the workforce
  • 20,000+ women left the workforce between Feb-Oct, 2020
  • 68,000 men joined the workforce during this same time

The report stated that the pandemic and the demands of raising a family are most likely to blame for women exiting from the workforce.

On the contrary, men are benefiting from growth in the fields of technology, science, and engineering — fields they already dominate in to begin with.

So, should women and leaders accept this fate or should they revisit their DEI goals and vision and double down on an important resource — women?

According to Harvard Business Review, women have been better leaders, prior to and during the pandemic:

The report concluded that:

“Perhaps the most valuable part of the data we’re collecting throughout the crisis is hearing from thousands of direct reports about what they value and need from leaders now. Based on our data they want leaders who are able to pivot and learn new skills; who emphasize employee development even when times are tough; who display honesty and integrity; and who are sensitive and understanding of the stress, anxiety, and frustration that people are feeling. Our analysis shows that these are traits that are more often being displayed by women.”

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion —WHAT’s Next:

Continuous investment in developing this important talent pool with proven successful programs and diversity, equity and inclusion training that empower women and develop their confidence and skills is not a nice-to-have, but a must have today.

At Corporate Class Inc., our Live Online Women in Leadership Masterclass is a two-day program that is simply transformational.

Why?

Because the program is unique in tackling some of the biggest challenges’ women face — bias, the imposter syndrome, the confidence gap, work-life balance and more.

The program is interactive and highly experiential, allowing each participant to dig deep into who they are, what they want their brand to be, how they make a first (and many other) impressions and teaches them the tools and skills to be confident, compassionate and to lead with executive presence and focus.

Why should organizations invest in a diversity, equity and inclusion program for women?

Given that women remain scarce in the C-suite and in the workforce, and that number has diminished due to race, culture and ethnicity – organizations who want to be global leaders in diversity, equity and inclusion must invest in the development of the most critical talent in their organizations and society.

Women are shaped by unique experiences and intersecting identities, so it is important to recognize and address the divergent challenges and barriers they face in a safe space to share stories, experiences and learn from one other. Women experience a journey of self-discovery and reflection, resulting in strengthened performance and confidence.

Real growth. Real change. Real development. Real Return on Investment.

Ready to step into your power with confidence?

Discover CCI’s Live Online Women in Leadership Masterclass for individuals or corporations.