How to Motivate Colleagues for Effective and Balanced Teamwork

iStock_000002328740XSmallLeading a group project or team initiative is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your leadership and management skills. However, little is more frustrating than when team members do not contribute equally to the task at hand. Uncooperative group members may not complete their work on time, refrain from participating in group meetings, or approach work with a negative attitude.

While unequal contributions from team members make projects unnecessarily difficult, this behaviour occurs more often than you may think. Such behaviour can hinder the success of a project – both the process and the end result.

As team leader, how can you motivate all team members to be engaged and supportive during a group effort? Last week’s post discussed how to motivate yourself; this week, we focus on others around you. Here are three suggestions for managing a balanced and effective team.

  • Delegate Tasks According to the Interests of Group Members
    When employees are not pursuing tasks that they are passionate about, interested in, or skilled at, they can be far less committed to approach them with an enthusiastic outlook.

    When assigning tasks for a group initiative, pay attention to the interests and abilities of your team. If you customize your division of labour to these characteristics, your project may proceed more smoothly. Further, it will show that you are interested in the needs of each individual group member, which could boost their morale and trust in you.

  • Foster Good Communication on All Platforms
    Practically speaking, all group contributions should be readily and easily accessible for all other team members to access. If your team does not work from a shared server at the office, ensure that files are available through cloud-based sharing platforms or other formats that are easy to use for group members. This tactic, as well as setting clear goals and due dates, will help everyone to stay aware of the progress of the work as a whole and better enable others to contribute their portions on time.

    Logistical matters aside, it is also important to foster effective communication among group members and provide opportunities to discuss issues. When issues remain unaddressed for long periods of time, they can grow until they are no longer manageable and may hinder the success of the project.

  • Create a Tone of Friendliness and Respect
    You do not need to become great friends with all of the members of your team. However, it is important to generate an atmosphere of friendliness and respect among all team members. When you maintain a friendly tone (even in the face of issues!), the group dynamic will be far more pleasant and it will be easier for team members to commit themselves to their work – and remain committed throughout the process.

    Further, as team members begin to produce results, ensure that you are recognizing each colleague equally for their efforts. Imbalanced recognition can make it seem that you prioritize or favour certain individuals, which will reflect poorly on your leadership skills.

For further reading on managing effective teams and motivating team members, see our previous blog post on “Top Team Building Activities” or the Harvard Business Review’s “Make Your Good Team Great.”

Create a Workplace Culture that Fosters Executive Presence

Developing Executive Presence is a personal journey. After all, Executive Presence reflects an individual’s self-presentation, conduct, attitude and reputation.

However, environment can have a great effect on Executive Presence as well. In order to encourage your employees to recognize and improve their own Executive Presence, as a leader in your company you can aim to create a workplace culture that fosters Executive Presence.

The more that your employees are aware of and committed to developing their own Executive Presence, the better your company’s image will be. The behaviour of your employees will reflect positively on your organization, allowing it to maintain a great reputation and make excellent first impressions on outside clients and partners. This can only lead to success for your company.

How can you promote Executive Presence as part of your workplace culture?

  • If you lead, others will follow.
    Staff members often follow the lead that management-level employees establish. For example, if the boss is consistently late, certain employees may begin to believe that this is acceptable behaviour in the company.As a leader, you can inspire staff to develop their Executive Presence by exhibiting it yourself. Set positive standards by demonstrating composure under pressure, maintaining an excellent reputation, communicating effectively, keeping a polished professional image, and other qualities that are included in the three pillars of Executive Presence.
  • Be clear about dress policy.
    You do not need to be aggressive about enforcing rules, but a clear and consistent policy for the dress code will allow professional image to be the norm in your office culture.Especially for organizations that uphold a “business casual” dress code, lack of a clear policy can lead to image and attire slipping farther and farther away from professional standards. A defined policy – and adhering to that policy – will ensure that everyone is on the same page.
  • Foster good communication among employees.
    Communication is one of the key pillars of Executive Presence. Therefore it is essential that your employees can communicate well with each other and with external contacts.To ensure this in your office, it is important once again that you set the tone by demonstrating good standards. Maintain a good rapport with your employees, position yourself as friendly and approachable, and establish clear and preferred channels of communication. To encourage your staff to communicate well with one another, promote team-building activities that will establish trust among staff.
  • Invite staff to participate in Executive Presence Lunch and Learns.

There is no better way to foster Executive Presence than by providing your employees the opportunity to learn about it firsthand. A Lunch and Learn is an excellent context to do so: it is a learning opportunity that is effective and does not require staff to give up too much time out of their days.

Our Lunch and Learn series on the Executive Presence System is a series of interactive workshops formulated to develop Executive Presence. These fast-paced 60 to 90 minute sessions encourage participants to play an active role throughout the process, ensuring that participants are engaged during the entire session.

Remember that Executive Presence can benefit not only an individual, but also a company as a whole. How does your workplace culture encourage Executive Presence?

 

 

Internal Communication and Respect: Just as Important As External Relations

article-new-thumbnail_ehow_images_a01_ur_gr_win-employees-respect-800x800Have you ever been to a shop or a restaurant and spoken with a friendly, helpful manager – only to watch that manager turn around and speak rudely to his or her employees? At that moment, did the store or restaurant suddenly lose its credibility? Think about this situation and apply it to your own company: does your organization respect its employees as much as its external clients and partners?

Even for companies that prioritize customer service and external relations, it is essential to foster positive internal communication and respect for employees. Without a strong internal foundation, external relations can’t follow suit – and external contacts will notice fissures in an organization that has weak internal relations. Also, an organization likely will have less focus and lower quality outputs if internal staff does not communicate well or feel appreciated.

Here are a few strategies to consider for improving your company’s internal communication:

  • Invite different forms of communication.
    While certain employees might feel that a face-to-face discussion is the most effective way to communicate, others may be more comfortable with email correspondence. As management, suggest different forms of communication through which employees can reach you or their supervisors directly. In addition, resources such as staff-wide forums (online or in-person) or informal monthly gatherings keep multiple communication channels open – and set the tone for a culture of communication.
  • Provide clear solutions for problem solving.
    It is important for employees to know where to go or whom to speak with when issues arise in the office. Otherwise, small problems occasionally can grow into job-threatening issues. The most obvious solution is having a strong and approachable Human Resources department. Ensure that HR employees are at the top of their game through professional development training and conference opportunities
  • Promote interdepartmental communication.
    In most companies, various departments rely on one another to complete their own work, whether directly or indirectly. However, many departments end up working in silos with little to no understanding of the objectives of other teams in the same company – even those working right down the hallway. Through team-building solutions and company-wide events, promote interdepartmental communication.

    It is important for staff to understand how their work fits within the work of the whole company as well as how it contributes to the efforts of others. With a better collective understanding of the overarching institutional objectives and strategies, employees will be able to pinpoint how their work contributes to the company as a whole – thereby finding more meaning in their own work.

  • As management, find ways to respond to employees directly.
    Simply because of the overwhelming number of responsibilities for executive-level staff, it is often necessary for an assistant to respond to emails and manage the bulk of the communications. Occasionally, however, it is important for employees to be able to reach company leaders directly. Employees should know that upper management is aware of the work and that it matters to the success of the company. Even a brief encouraging email to a department or an acknowledgment on a first-name basis can make a difference.

 

 

Small Talk Can Lead to Big Opportunities

97421060When you go to a networking event, do you dread making small talk with strangers? Many find small talk to be awkward, meaningless, or tiresome – but the reality is, small talk is a very important component of making professional connections.

Although the topics discussed during small talk may not be directly related to business, small talk helps to build relationships. This leads to more meaningful discussions, lasting professional partnerships, and business deals. The habit of discussing business all the time is not a path to success – in fact, even in some professional situations it is inappropriate to address business affairs constantly.

Mastering the art of small talk, then, is key to enhancing your own professional presence. Here, we discuss a few starting points and elements of small talk – and opportunities for more practice.

What do I talk about?
Jumping into small talk can seem intimidating – especially if you can’t think of a topic of conversation other than the weather. If you don’t want to start with a cliché or mundane topic like the weather, where do you start?

  • If you are at a national or international event, ask other participants about where they are based, what is interesting about their home city, or what they enjoy about the host city. This gives you a great starting point for further questions, such as great sights to see or questions about their company, instead of a dead-end topic like the weather.
  • Conversely, if someone is from the same city as you, discuss what he or she enjoys about that place. This may allow you to find mutual connections and discuss possible opportunities to meet in your hometown.
  • Ask questions about what other participants do for work and what they enjoy about it. This is not directly related to business affairs, as it simply allows others to expand upon their passions and interest. Again, you may find something in common with their interests, and this could lead to further discussion about where your companies align and could connect in the future.
  • For further resources, see an article from the website Entrepreneur, which lends the simple yet valuable advice to “just ask questions” when making small talk. Fast Company also suggests five great questions to ask when engaging in small talk.

Small talk isn’t just about talking
Though it sounds counter-intuitive, small talk isn’t just about talking! It’s also about being open, inviting, and ready to engage – through body language and the ability to work a room.

  • When at a networking event or cocktail party, refrain from staying in one corner of the room or only seeking out familiar faces. You will never make small talk if you refuse to approach others! Walk around the room – and be sure to check your posture, stance, and eye contact while doing so.
  • With your body language, show that you are open to making new connections. Above all, smile! A friendly face invites introductions and conversation.
  • Our previous blog post on Working A Room can provide you with even more tips on how to jump into a networking session with ease.

How do I learn more?
Small talk is a key component of the Interpersonal Communication Skills module in our upcoming Advanced Executive Presence Seminar for C-Suite Leaders. We are very excited to launch this two-day training on May 27 and 28, specifically designed for executives at the C-suite level and covering all seven modules of our Executive Presence training. If you are interested in mastering the art of small talk – and many more factors contributing to your Executive Presence – please contact us.

How business etiquette improve workplace culture

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Recently, The Globe and Mail released a report on the 50 most engaged workplaces in Canada. Engagement in the workplace, which, according to The Globe and Mail, is defined by “employees’ passion for their work and commitment to the company’s vision,” holds significant influence on a company’s success on so many levels: employee retention, customer relations and the ability to deliver on objectives, among countless others.

Business etiquette undeniably is a part of what creates an engaged workplace. The judging panel for this award evaluated companies based on the following eight elements: communication, leadership, culture, rewards and recognition, professional and personal growth, accountability and performance, vision and values, and corporate and social responsibility. How is business etiquette integral in certain elements of this criteria?

Communication
Business communication takes many forms: from internal to external, interpersonal to technological, everyday exchanges to larger issues management. For a business to be successful, all channels of communication must run smoothly, and business etiquette can facilitate this success.

  • Technological Communication ranges from email, texting, phone calls, voicemail, or conference calls – any form of communication that is not face-to-face. When you think about how often you use tech-based communication every day, mastering the nuances of these forms of communication – such as how to introduce yourself on a conference call or how to compose a respectful email in a difficult situation – becomes essential.
  •  Interpersonal Communication also can occur in various situations: casual meetings between colleagues, an important client or partner dinner, or a networking event. A gauge on properly handling communication in any one of these contexts is crucial to making professional connections.

Professional and Personal Growth
A company that provides its employees with the potential for growth and development is certainly on a path to success. Opportunities like seminars, trainings, lunch-and-learn sessions, or individual consulting can make a world of difference in an employee’s performance.

When business etiquette, professional image or executive presence are addressed in these contexts, an individual becomes more confident and self-aware, while simultaneously contributing the benefits and strengths of their newly sharpened traits to the rest of the team. Corporate Class Inc. provides a Executive Presence System, includes six core modules: interpersonal communication skills, techno-communication skills, workplace etiquette and best practices, presentation skills, business dress and executive dining skills.
Culture
A harmonious workplace culture functions on the respect that employees have for their colleagues, their company and for themselves. This respect is made manifest through good workplace etiquette – in essence, a necessary standard for how employees treat one another.

It’s no wonder that business etiquette and professional development are key to a company’s success – simply look no further than the role of business etiquette in the elements that define Canada’s top 50 most engaged companies!

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Why is Active Listening in Business Communication Important?

Why is Active Listening in Business Communication Important?

In the dynamic world of business communication, where every conversation could lead to a new opportunity or a solution to a complex challenge, the art of active listening stands out as a crucial skill. Active listening in business is far more than a passive act; it’s an engaging process of fully comprehending, empathizing, and thoughtfully responding. This skill is not just about processing the spoken word, but about delving into the deeper meaning behind these words, grasping the nuances of tone, emotion, and intent. This approach to active listening is essential for building strong relationships, effective communication within teams, and with clients, making it a key component in achieving business goals.

The Importance of Active Listening in Business

Active listening in business is more than just hearing words; it’s about fully comprehending and engaging with the speaker. This crucial skill helps in building strong relationships and effective communication within teams and with clients. Active listening is essential for problem-solving and avoiding misunderstandings, a key component in achieving business goals. Emphasizing the importance of active listening can transform interactions, making every party feel valued and understood.

Tips On How To Use Active Listening

  1. Be Fully Present: Avoid interruptions and give your full attention to the speaker.
  2. Encourage Openness: Ask open-ended questions to understand the speaker’s point of view.
  3. Reflect and Clarify: Paraphrase and summarize to ensure you’ve understood correctly.
  4. Note Nonverbal Cues: Pay attention to body language and tone, which convey much more than words.
  5. Show Empathy: Demonstrate understanding and respect for the speaker’s ideas and perspectives.
  6. Respond Appropriately: Tailor your response to show that you value what the speaker is saying.

Improve your active listening skills and become a more effective leader with our Executive Presence & Leadership Training workshop. This comprehensive workshop is designed to refine your listening abilities, a crucial aspect of effective communication and leadership. By focusing on active listening techniques and engaged listening, you’ll learn to minimize distractions, improve productivity, and build trust with your team members and clients.
In this training, you’ll gain insights into how active listening can help you identify specific needs, address potential issues, and build stronger relationships. Our program not only provides practical tips on how to improve these skills but also integrates them into the broader context of executive leadership. Join us to transform into an engaged listener and a more impactful leader, capable of guiding individuals and organizations to achieve their goals with increased satisfaction and respect.

In a humorous and insightful essay in last weekend’s issue of the Globe and Mail, Katrina Onstad analyzes today’s growing disappearance of eye contact, which she cites as “the most potent tool of body language.” This essay struck a note with me, particularly because eye contact is so critical for effective communication and engagement in business, not just in social life. Likewise, knowledge of how to use devices respectfully, especially smart phones, is also very important – and, as Onstad notes, is a central reason for the current absence of eye contact and therefore engaged communication. Her concept, put in a business perspective, could help you keep on top of your game in business communication.

Active Listening Skills

Developing active listening skills involves more than just maintaining eye contact or nodding. It includes understanding the tone of voice, empathy, and recognizing nonverbal cues. Asking open-ended questions and taking notes can also enhance understanding. Active listeners tailor their responses to the speaker’s needs, showing that they are fully engaged in the conversation. These skills are vital for customer service, teamwork, and building rapport.

Engaged Speaking and Listening

As we have shared in another recent blog post on body language tips, body language can help to make or break your career. And as eye contact is a significant component of body language, it certainly carries weight in your career-related interactions.

In one-on-one situations, eye contact demonstrates to the other person in the conversation that you are interested in what they have to say. As your posture and gestures can reflect boredom or disengagement, a lack of eye contact will make this painfully obvious. As you will see in my earlier post, if what you say is not congruent with your body language, then people will believe your body language and not your words.

Eye contact is necessary during individual conversations. A less obvious context but equally as important for good eye contact is during public speaking or talking to a group. Effective public speakers scan the audience during a talk, maintaining eye contact with listeners in the crowd. When up onstage, keep in mind not to focus on one person the whole time, but move your eyes throughout the crowd. This will make the listeners feel like you are speaking directly to them as individuals, and will keep them engaged throughout the duration of your speech.

Likewise, even in a more casual context of a group or staff meeting, be sure to allow your eyes to move from person to person. Again, this will create the effect that you are speaking to them instead of at them.

Focus on the Conversation

Another component of Onstad’s essay that is both inseparable and foundational to her argument for sustaining eye contact is the argument that our devices – most notably, our cell phones – are making us less engaged with those around us. This concept is also important to keep in mind in a business setting, whether we are interacting on a daily basis with a colleague or trying to impress a client.

Cell Phones in Meetings

Often in day-to-day meetings, it is considered acceptable to have a smart phone or laptop present, as the rest of the workday continues and people need to keep on top of their tasks and emails. Nevertheless, try to check emails minimally, and don’t have a phone sitting right in front of you – or else you will be tempted to pick it up every time you receive an email. In doing so, you will be removing yourself from the discussion or blatantly disregarding what someone is saying.

It is for this reason that many companies have established a “no devices” policy during certain meetings, notably during staff meetings that occur only once per week or month. Otherwise, members present risk being distracted by other work.

During important and less frequent meetings, such as those with external clients or guests, no devices should be present. Keeping preoccupied with one would not only reflect poorly on you, but also on your company. If your ringer goes off during such a meeting, turn off the phone without checking to see who is calling and apologize after the meeting.

Cell Phones at the Dinner Table

Though phones and other devices are often acceptable in meetings, it is never appropriate to keep one on the table (or on your lap) during a meal. Again, if you are out on a business lunch with a client or a company guest, bad business etiquette becomes a poor representation of your company.

While cell phones on the dinner table are inappropriate, it is equally unacceptable to try to use a phone discreetly – due to the reality that it simply won’t be discreet. In her essay, Onstad describes a situation that happens all too frequently:

You are mid-sentence and suddenly the listener’s eyes slide southward to her own hand or the table or her lap. Whether she glances back immediately or – and this hurts – begins pecking away at whatever device proved more important than the final part of your sentence, the moment of connection that came before has snapped like a twig.

In business, moments like these are not only rude, but they can also be destructive to your credibility.

In daily life, remembering to put down our devices and make eye contact is important if we want to actively engage with our surroundings and with the people around us. In business, doing just that is crucial to effective communication, to displaying the best level of professionalism, and ultimately to advancing your career.

Active listening is crucial in business communication and improving communication, to help individuals and organizations. If you want to improve these essential skills, our workshops and coaching programs are designed to deepen your understanding and practice of active listening in business, an investment in your professional growth and success.

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Protect (and Polish!) Your Online Presence

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“If I post on my personal social media site, my boss won’t see it, right?” Wrong. If your name and face is somewhere on the Internet, anyone and everyone will be able to access it. There are countless situations in which an inappropriate posting, email, comment or photo has backfired on someone and they have lost a job opportunity or gotten in serious trouble because of it. Don’t let this happen to you: protect your online reputation. And, while you’re at it, take extra steps to polish your online presence – because, inevitably, a professional connection will find you on the Internet.


Survey what’s already out there.
The first step is to find out what already exists, and how easily searchable this information is. Google your name – and check out both the web search and the image search. You may come across old information or photos that you didn’t even know still existed, and will give you a sense of what needs to be cleaned up. It will also show you what appears first in a search. Making sure your search results reveal professional behaviour is crucial: according to this Mashable infographic, 78% of recruiters check search engines to find out more about potential employees.


Adjust your Facebook privacy settings and monitor what you share.
Never, ever post any inappropriate photos or status updates on Facebook – especially those referring to illicit behaviour. This is one of the most destructive things you can do to your online reputation.

Even if you’re grown up enough now to post judiciously, there may be some unflattering photos from university days still floating around on your Facebook page. In this case, set your privacy settings so that only you or certain close friends can view your photos (even colleagues can be Facebook “friends,” so don’t be misled by clicking “friends only” viewing). This is also a good idea for future protection; after all, friends won’t ask your permission to post every photo of you that they upload on Facebook.


Tweet positively.
Whereas photos are the key representation of you on Facebook, your words are what really matter on Twitter. Again, any inappropriate language or illicit content in tweets are a definite no. Also, even if your tweets are clean, try to maintain a positive attitude in what you post. If a potential boss sees a string of complaints on your Twitter feed, they might assume you’ll bring a negative attitude into the workplace, too.


Emails aren’t private.
Any email communications you have with colleagues should be kept strictly professional.  Remember, anything that you write can be forwarded to the wrong person with the click of a button – confidentiality disclaimers aside. If the content of your email is inappropriate – for example, gossip about another co-worker or complaints about a boss – this can lead to some very awkward situations. If you encounter a situation that would merit a complaint about someone, skip the email entirely and address the problem directly with the appropriate person.


Focus on your LinkedIn profile.
Work on polishing your LinkedIn profile. This is a professional social networking site, which means it is guaranteed (and encouraged) that business contacts will be viewing it. Make sure your work history, current position, marketable skills and personal information are up to date. The more active your LinkedIn profile, the more likely it is to climb to the top of a search engine’s results list. And that’s the kind of information you want an employer to see.

 

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How Business Etiquette Sets You Apart

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In today’s job market, hopeful professionals with impressive credentials and years of training are often vying for the same positions. In such a competitive market, how can you gain an edge? What will distinguish your resume from dozens (if not hundreds) of other notable applicants? Here’s one answer: Business etiquette will set you apart. On paper, another job candidate might appear to have the exact same abilities as you – but in practice, the way you carry yourself and interact with others will complement your skills and determine your success as a professional.

How can business etiquette give you an edge?

Communication
Successful communication is an art. We engage in communication every day through writing, speaking and body language: essentially, any time we are around other people, we are communicating.

Yet many professionals do not always communicate in the most effective way possible in everyday contexts, and conversations often come to a standstill when faced with an awkward or difficult situation. Business etiquette know-how can give you awareness and help you sharpen communication in a variety of contexts: emails, conference calls, conversations with anyone from a colleague to the executive VP, body language, voicemail – the list of how, where and when we communicate goes on. When you are able to gracefully and graciously communicate in normal circumstances, the sticky situations will be easier to navigate as well.

Appearance
Putting your best foot forward is critical the moment you step into a business situation. All aspects about your appearance: your posture, how you extend your hand for a handshake, the professionalism of your dress, the minutiae of accessories (hair, makeup, shoes, jewelry), and your overall composure all contribute to the first impression. This impression will influence anyone from a prospective employer, potential client or important contact – and depending on whether you appear refined or careless, this will complement your job skills positively or negatively.

Dining Etiquette
Even if you’ve got great manners at the table, the intricacies of formal dining etiquette are so detailed that it takes some practice to get them all right. Yet not everyone takes the time to learn those skills, and if you find yourself at a business meal with someone to impress – again, a potential employer or client – they will recognize your skills when you navigate an intricate place setting with ease and carry yourself elegantly at the table. Many interviews, business deals and professional relationships are formed during a meal so do not underestimate the power of proper dining.

The Art of Simple Courteousness
In this age, we move so quickly that many forget the simple grace of kindness. Saying please and thank you, a thoughtful gesture, and even just a positive attitude: these all contribute to how much others would like to be around you and how many relationships you will build along the way. Though it may seem obvious, basic courteousness is integral to professional success.

So how do you sharpen these business etiquette skills? To start, check out previous and upcoming articles in this blog: we share great tips on everything from formal dining etiquette to interview attire to helpful resources. Individual consulting or group seminars contribute the extra edge of professional instruction. Building and refining your business etiquette skills will set you apart – at any stage of your career.

 

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Are Men More Strategic Than Women?

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executive presenceAre you a woman leader seeing your equally skilled male counterparts climb the corporate ladder while you get left behind? Does a promotion that you’re the perfect match for always seem to elude you? Ever wonder what’s stopping you from landing a senior level management position?

In many organizations (whether they voice it out or not) it is a commonly held belief that women are NOT as strategic as men, and hence many male senior executives believe that although skilled and talented, women are just not ready yet for senior-level leadership in the firm.

In a recent article published by the Huffington Post, leadership strategist Rebecca Shambaugh strongly disagrees with the above commonly held belief. She states that:

…in working with and coaching hundreds of women leaders, there’s no question in my mind that women are strategic thinkers. After all, most women constantly fill multiple roles. This requirement gives them critical problem solving skills and the ability to orchestrate complex situations — two areas that are closely related to strategic thinking skills. So the issue is not that women aren’t strategic thinkers. The problem is that they sometimes don’t come across that way. And in business, as in life, perception is reality.

So how do you as a bright, talented executive woman come across as more strategic? Here are 3 key areas you need to focus on: Building cross-departmental experience, developing executive presence and using the right words.

Broad-based Experience – Relative to men, women often lack the strategic experience that comes from time spent in P&L, operations and line positions. In addition, women tend to mistakenly believe that they need to be experts in their current position or functional area. As a result, they focus intently on that aspect of the business or organization, narrowing their perspective.

Instead, women need to proactively seek positions, projects, and assignments outside of their position, department or area of expertise. Cross-functional and external assignments offer a broader perspective, the opportunity to stretch and grow, a better understanding of how the pieces of the business fit and work together and a more integrated, strategic view.

Executive Presence – A recent study identified the top three differentiators that make for a successful executive, and one of those key differentiators is executive presence. At the senior ranks, everyone has technical competency, but not everyone has presence. Presence is the way you carry yourself: The persona that you convey in meetings and conversations. Executive presence is characterized by self-confidence, a sense of authority, decisiveness and assertiveness. Women have a tendency to be helpful and polite to the point of not stating their opinions or defending themselves as an authority.

If you are a woman who wants to enhance your executive presence, know and state your opinions firmly, backing them with strong rationale. Ask thoughtful, strategic questions rather than simply sharing information and blindly agreeing with others. Boards and executives are looking for people who can challenge old ways of thinking and doing. Don’t personalize situations. See business as business. Feelings don’t count … organizational goals do.

Language – Oftentimes, women’s choice of words when communicating can send the message that they are not as strategic as men. It’s not necessarily what women say but how they say it.

For example, consider a senior level, female HR professional who is concerned about a lack of cross-collaboration within the organization. She presents to the executive team “an initiative to create a more inclusive culture,” but the bottom-line focused senior executives tune her out. Consider the difference if she had reframed the proposal to reflect a more strategic approach: “Given the reality of our current talent shortage, we need to look at a human capital plan and develop an inclusive, learning-based culture that will align with and support our growth strategy.”

All leaders — men and women — need to speak the language of business. When presenting information, reports or proposals, do your homework first. Consider the strategic aspects of your project. How does it fit into the organization’s vision, business strategy, growth plan or annual goals? How will it drive better business results? You must understand how it will impact the bottom line and be prepared to communicate that connection clearly and succinctly.

Now that you know that you need to gain varied experience, build executive presence and use just the right business language – Where do you begin?

That’s where we can help. In order to be perceived as more strategic you’ll have to make a few adjustments, but the good news is it’s not difficult or complex – all you need to learn is how!

Corporate Class’s exclusive one-on-one training sessions will not only help you become more aware of your strategic capabilities as a woman, but we’ll also show you how to build executive presence and use the right body language to get ahead in your career and hopefully bag that next promotion!