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

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.

What is Executive Presence Training (And Why it Matters More Than Ever in 2021)

When we aspire to be leaders, the underlying context of that aspiration is the desire to lead, make a positive change, inspire others to do and be better, to head up an organization, to make an impact on others and in some cases leave a lasting impression or legacy.

Leadership is often associated with key traits and skills we expect people to have, at times, we correlate leadership with positions held.

Indeed, leadership is those things and more; it is the ability to have others willingly follow your lead – regardless of position held.

For many organizations, one of the biggest challenges facing them is pipeline issues and succession planning.

While businesses know they need to develop both these tracks, few have a clear path with the exception of perhaps the most senior role(s).

However, if organizations want to thrive and prosper, they need to develop their talent pipeline and often, the most critical skill is leadership presence and in particular executive presence training.

What is Executive Presence?

So, what exactly is executive presence?

It can mean different things to different people; simply put, leadership or executive presence comes from being authentic, building confidence in others, and inspiring others to take meaningful action.

Leadership and developing your executive presence, specifically, is a journey of personal transformation of:

  • who you are;
  • the kind of leader you are;
  • and the kind of leader you want to be

Considered the gold standard in the industry for many reasons, executive presence training is anchored in 30+ years of research and is grounded on understanding the neuroscience of the brain; recognizing that positive change comes with managing triggers, behaviours and your ability to self manage in situations to achieve excellent outcomes.

How to Develop Executive Presence

While developing your leadership is achieved through different methods, executive presence training is a key differentiator because it supports the growth of your courage, confidence, and strengthens your communication skills, builds empathy and enhances your active listening.

Individuals who develop executive presence influence their leadership strategy thus impacting their personal journey and building their capacity to seek opportunity and stand out among leaders.

So why is executive presence different and cited as the gold standard?

The impact stems from the personal development of an individual such that there is a great deal of self-reflection while building capacity and skills that develop a person in a fulsome way.

For example, when we think of great leaders, we associate humble confidence and the ability to project knowledge with credibility.

But, how do you gain credibility and confidence?

It comes with developing trust and making consistently good impressions.  This lasting impression on people is created through consistency in:

  • communication;
  • knowledge of your area of specialization;
  • being authentic,
  • lifting others

For example, when we think of leaders, we associate the ability to communicate effectively and powerfully and in doing so, that quiet confidence comes through.

However, this impression is more than words we use, it is how present we are and how we present (or how we show up) that supports and defines the impression we make.

For example, if you are speaking and moving back and forth, looking down, speaking in a monotone, fidgeting, with arms crossed, imagine the impression you make to an audience regardless of how well you know the material.

Executive presence training develops and teaches an individual to hone the skills to communicate effectively such that what you say and how you say speaks to and reflects your personal brand and the high value you bring as a person along with your knowledge and contributions.

Executive presence also develops leadership in individuals by empowering them to gain a greater understanding of the executive brain and its functionality; specifically, the individual’s triggers and how to manage them and the responses effectively.

The ability to hone and strengthen your interpersonal skills can help navigate work place politics and challenges critical to leadership success.

Benefits of Executive Presence Training

Leadership and those with executive presence are highly sought after.

Every organization wants excellent staff and colleagues who have leadership skills and potential, because these individuals will rise to the occasion, and help lead the organization in times of crisis in a way that instills trust, minimizes disruption and leverages strategic competencies.

Leaders do not just focus on results; leaders with executive presence build on their knowledge and leverage their credibility, confidence and excellent interpersonal skills to make a lasting and positive impression.

Executive Presence requires developing competencies and investment in yourself to empower and expand your career potential.

At Corporate Class Inc., our executive presence training in Toronto and across the globe is designed in such a way that reflection and practice become an integral part of your personal and professional development.

Change and a growth mindset happen when individuals seek to learn, invest in their leadership journey and open themselves up to becoming a better version of themselves. Like all great skills, it also comes with practicing what you learn.

Executive presence training is an investment in your current and future self; it is the gift that keeps on giving.

Why You Need Executive Presence Coaching

When you are present, confident, and reflective and lead with authenticity, you build your Executive Presence and these skills and experience are a game changer.

Diane Craig, President of Corporate Class Inc., emphasizes that, “to be crowned a leader, a person must be recognized as a leader. Our role is empowering people to lead. Executive presence is a blend of related parts that vary according to personality and circumstance. There is no formula; every client is unique. We ensure they evolve and develop their own authentic presence.”

As one aspiring leader and participant has shared, “through our discussions, I have much greater awareness and understanding of how my behaviors and impressions may hold me back from unlocking my potential as an executive. The approach is based on research and the latest thinking on executive presence. The advice has been truthful and direct, yet delivered in a kind way that helps me internalize it, remember it in the moment, and reach for different behaviors. There are certainly other vendors in this space, but I’d be surprised if their service came close to that offered by this high touch, highly effective team.”

Corporate Class Inc. conducts executive presence workshops around the world — from the Americas, to Europe and the Gulf.

CEO’s have endorsed our training and executive presence coaching because of its strong value proposition; “The investment I made with Corporate Class has helped me personally and increased my business exponentially. This program has reinforced the value we place on a work environment that is based on respect. Understanding and consideration for our internal and external clients. This training has also supported our employees in their career development, proving to be a great professional and personal investment for everyone who attended.”

Top business schools around the world recognize Executive Presence as critical to closing the gap between talent and exceptional leadership by finding your voice, developing the quiet confidence to navigate what comes your way, leveraging and maximizing your strengths,. Our client list speaks to the impact our programs have made on our patrons and their organizations around the world.

At Corporate Class Inc. our goal is to empower people to unlock their potential. Let us help you on your journey to empower yourself and others.

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

leadership presence training program

Tech-addiction: Decrease your screen time + increase your presence

tech addiction

Last week we discussed power posing and its effects on one’s feelings of confidence and power. Power posing before a stressful event, such as delivering a speech or a presentation, can help to decrease nerves and increase your presence when you step into the spotlight.

That’s exactly what Executive Presence is all about – engaging in behaviors that increase your presence, both in front of others as well as behind closed doors.

Because we live in an ultra-high-tech society – one might say, a tech-addicted society – the ability to remain present, and to exude presence, is becoming more and more difficult. We are constantly glued to our mobile devices; cell phones, laptops, computers, tablets… We seem to always be half in, half out, and rarely fully present in the moment. We are always checking for that email, text message or notification. We are often unaware of what we’ve just checked out of, such as an important conversation with a colleague or boss.

Less is more

There is a time and a place for everything. This saying is highly applicable when discussing the use of technology within professional settings. Most of us require the use of technology to do our jobs, complete our tasks, and organize our lives. We have become so dependent on these devices that interrupting a conversation or a meeting to check the source of the buzz or beep has become standard. This lack of awareness, or habit of ignoring the outside world for what’s happening inside our device, is effectively robbing us of our presence.

We must not forget that business thrives on relationships. It also thrives on responding to emails in a timely fashion, and at the end of the day, the need to do so comes down to retaining relationships (with the receiver, with the company, etc.). When amongst peers, colleagues, and superiors, how can we build on existing relationships, or create new ones, if we are constantly checking for new emails?

When you spend less time on your mobile devices, you have more time to spend in face-to-face interactions. It helps you stay focused and present, and others will take notice. It will help to increase your listening skills, one of the core traits of Executive Presence.

Strategic screen time

It’s not only about spending less time looking at our screens, but ensuring that the time we do spend is strategic. Here are some tips for increasing strategic screen time:

  • Instead of bringing your phone with you into your next meeting, leave it in your office
  • Instead of putting your phone on the table at your next client lunch (which seems to have become the norm), leave it in your purse of briefcase
  • Give yourself a limit of two, five-minute social media checks throughout the day (if not one!)

Increasing your focus by forgoing distractions, such as checking your phone, will serve to immediately increase your presence. This can be a scary thought and overwhelming to some, so start with small goals, such as not bringing your phone to your next meeting. Remember, your emails will still be there waiting for you when you return!

P.S. check out this article for a more in-depth examination of our “tech-addiction.”

The One Skill All Great Speakers Possess

great speakers

Captivating an audience is not an easy feat, especially for those of us who are not “natural” public speakers, or who struggle with major stage fright. There is one skill guaranteed to keep your audience engaged and interested, and it doesn’t require making a sound. We’re talking about using silence in the form of well-timed pauses.
Stage fright is a real thing. It is rare that a person is a natural orator and can captivate an audience with little to no practice, and without anxiety. None of us are born with impeccable speaking skills, not even Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Although some people are more comfortable on stage than others, they too have had to practice, practice, practice.

One Skill All Great Speakers Possess: Knowing How To Use Strategic Pauses

Do you possess effective oral presentation skills? All skilled speakers require lots of practice, and many have teams of coaches and communication experts behind them, à la Obama. For most of us, receiving feedback, learning tips and techniques along the way – strategic pauses, for example – and frequent practice will fill the bill.
Luckily, we don’t need an entourage of coaches to help us become the next Tony Robbins.
Whether it’s a presentation for colleagues, a keynote speech or simply story time with the kids, there is one sure-fire way to capture your audience’s attention: using silence in the form of strategically-placed pauses.

How to Do It

Great leaders and great speakers know their role is not simply to speak, but rather to make the audience think. An audience cannot possibly think, if it is busy trying to keep up with the rate of the speaker’s words and ideas!
Speakers often receive feedback that includes a suggestion to “slow down!!” It is not necessarily the rate of the words that is moving at hyper-speed, but rather, the rate of ideas.
When we tell our clients to “slow down,” we’re not talking about the rate of speech, but rather how quickly they are moving from one idea to another. This is where the well-timed, engaging pause comes in. Think about the flow of your ideas. Use pauses strategically when you switch from one idea to another. Watch audience members shift to the edge of their seat, as they anticipate what you’re going to say next.

Stage Fright: Why We Always Speak Too Quickly

Typically, we speak quickly when we’re under the spotlight because we are nervous (or terrified!) and want the experience to end as soon as possible. The thought of drawing out the presentation with pauses probably sounds like a nightmare. It’s critical to keep in mind that to you, the presentation probably feels like it is dragging on, never ending. For the audience, this isn’t the case. Inserting strategic pauses, thus slowing down the rate of ideas, will not bore your audience and will not lengthen your speech. All it will do is keep your audience interested and engaged. Slowing the rate of ideas will also increase your Executive Presence by sustaining your physical presence on-stage and helping you stay focused and calm. Remember: the audience is on your side and wants you to succeed.
Mark Twain was correct in saying, “The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause.”

Self-Knowing and Authenticity

Alas! We have finally reached the last blog post on Leadership Presence – self-knowing and authenticity. Over the past few weeks, we’ve discovered what leadership presence means, what it can do for you, and how to attain it. Last week we began to dissect the final piece of the puzzle in the quest to obtaining leadership presence: self-knowing. This week, we continue with this theme but discuss it in terms of authenticity.

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What is authenticity? Well, at its most basic level, it means to be genuine. To be genuine is to be oneself. The ability to connect with others in the business world is of the utmost importance, however the connecting must be done genuinely, or authentically, for it to have any meaning or impact.

According to Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, authors of “Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire”, there are three rules for authenticity. We shall discuss each in detail below.

Rule #1: Accept yourself and be open to growth (Halpern and Lubar 230)

Many of the greatest leaders feel comfortable and happy with themselves, despite their shortcomings. They know of their weaknesses and work to improve them, however they also accept them. When you’re aware of, and accepting of, your limitations it will allow you to develop the skills you need to overcome them. In addition, a good leader will know if their limitations cannot be overcome, at least in a timely manner, and in that case will delegate the task to someone more appropriately equipped to handle the situation. One of the best ways to accept yourself is to be open to hearing commentary about yourself and your performance, including criticism.

Rule #2: Live your values (Halpern and Lubar 235)

 In the last blog, we discussed values and how important they are to a leader. Well, it’s one thing to have values, however it’s another to put them into practice, especially in a workplace setting. Halpern and Lubar suggest leaders take two related steps in order to make sure their actions are congruent with their values:

  1. Ask others straight up if they believe you are someone who lives your values.
  2. Every time you speak of your values, ask others to tell you when your actions don’t align with your values.

It’s one thing to realize or discover that your actions don’t align with your values. If and when you do realize this, it is imperative you do some soul searching in order to figure out why this discrepancy exists, and then come up with a plan to correct the discrepancy. Remember, when your actions and values don’t align, you risk being perceived as inauthentic.

Rule #3: Create an authentic connection to work (Halpern and Lubar 240)

In order for a leader to be their most inspiring, authentic self, they must connect their values and interior life to the work that they do, similarly to how actors need to create a true connection to the characters they are portraying. At the end of the day, it is simply about creating meaning; if you truly believe in what you do and say, others will recognize that and will want to follow you. Connecting authentically with others allows the leader, as well as the led, to connect with something “bigger than themselves and their own self-interest” (Halpern and Lubar 247).

Being a leader is not about being “the boss”; it is about much more than that. It’s about inspiring, connecting, and motivating others to succeed and reach their highest potential. It is about communication, values, and the ability to make decisions. The steps we’ve outlined over the past few weeks are not necessarily the easiest things to do (opening up to others and becoming vulnerable is typically an anxiety-causing activity for most), however, if put into practice, they will help you achieve the leadership presence you deserve and need to reach the next level.

Works Cited

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

 

Leadership Presence: Reaching Out and Making Connections

As our series of blogs on Leadership Presence continues, our hope is that you take some of these suggestions into practice, in order to foster leadership presence in yourself, not just at work, but in every aspect of your life.

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Last week we discussed reaching out and empathy, and this week we continue on the topic of reaching out, but specifically reaching out and making connections.

According to Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, authors of “Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire”, empathy not only requires seeing and feeling, but also expression. What do they mean by this? It is what you do to communicate and act upon empathy that truly counts.

The focus of this entry is building relationships. The trick to building relationships, which is absolutely necessary if you want to be considered a leader, is to do so with empathy. But how?

 

Rules For Building Empathetic Relationships (Halpern and Lubar 109)

  1. Listen to build relationships
    1. This week again we see the importance of listening. The authors suggest listening for subtext (look for hidden meaning and emotion in the persons words). In addition, they suggest listening for the persons values and strengths, which can be an easy way to connect with someone.
  2. Acknowledge the person
    1. It is important, when listening, to acknowledge feelings, values and strengths that the other person might be trying to get across, but in a not-so-obvious fashion. The idea here is to turn off the “problem-solving” part of the brain when someone comes to you for help, and really listen to what they are saying beneath the words themselves. Another way to do this is to offer positive insights based on what you heard the person say. Remember, “people want to be loves, heard, and made to feel important.”
  3. Share yourself
    1. “Openness is critical for coaching” (119), say Halpern and Lubar in their book. This statement could not be truer, especially in business. It is integral to be vulnerable if you are to be a successful coach. Reveal the chinks in your armor, so to speak, and let others see who you really are; they will be more likely to follow you if you do.

It is important to mention that, although opening up and sharing yourself is necessary if you want to be a successful leader, there is also a limit. The authors suggest doing this in stages (offering bits of information here and there), and seeing how others respond. Don’t tell others your life story the moment you meet them!

The challenge this week is to try to open up and become vulnerable (yes, this will likely be difficult, and possibly even uncomfortable!), and see how others respond to you. Remember, it is all about making connections, and you wont be able to do so if you’re a vault!

Works Cited

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

 

Leadership Presence: Reaching Out and Empathy

This week we continue our series on leadership presence – what it is and how we can attain it. Last week we looked at the first aspect of leadership presence, and arguably it’s foundation, being present.

For this next instalment, we will discuss the next step on the path to attaining leadership presence: reaching out with empathy. According to Belle Linda Halpern and Kathy Lubar, authors of “Leadership Presence: Dramatic Techniques to Reach Out, Motivate and Inspire”, reaching out means “the ability to build relationships with others through empathy, listening, and authentic connection” (77).

This may sounds easy or obvious, but in fact is it not. A true leader is someone who reaches out first, and does not wait for opportunities to cross them by. In addition, it is one thing to reach out to others, to seek out opportunities, but if one does so without empathy and compassion, the effect will be lackluster. Both of these characteristics compliment each other and work together to foster leadership.

How Can I Learn to Reach Out and be Empathetic?

There is a saying: “people want to be loved, heard, and made to feel important.” This statement is true in every aspect of life, and especially in business. A true leader will make their colleagues feel heard, and their actions and ideas integral to any business situation. This includes, for example, active listening, as opposed to passive listening, and sensitivity in dealing with potentially awkward situations (such as someone’s terrible idea for a proposal to a potential client). Halpern and Lubar state: “When you know and acknowledge your people and their feelings, they feel more motivated, work more productively, and they’re more likely to stay, even if the going gets though” (89). If you can learn to reach out and be empathetic with your employees, they will be loyal to you and will work harder for you.

If empathy and the ability to reach out doesn’t exactly come natural to you, there are certain actions you can take to encourage this behavior in yourself.

Know What Makes People Tick

Being empathetic does not mean having warm and fuzzy feelings of happiness for the entire population; it simply means understanding someone’s thoughts and feelings. To do this adequately, it is important to get to know the person, and find out what makes them tick, so that you may better understand them in any situation.

Make The Link to Your Own Feelings

 In opposition to sympathy, empathy involves feeling with someone, as opposed to for someone. Therefore, empathy requires you to connect with your own feelings and inner self. Many leaders have the “bad habit” of leaving all their feelings at home before coming to the office. If you do this, your ability to empathize will be gravely affected. We often see this be the case for some in our 360 with clients. Categories of respondents differ in their opinions of the subject. Friends and family will rate their empathy high while colleagues, direct reports and bosses rate it low.

You Can Empathize With Anyone

Naturally, it is easier to empathize with people we like. Empathizing and connecting with others that you may not like or respect can be a challenge, but it is certainly not impossible. Halpern and Lubar suggest thinking about the person with whom you cannot connect with, and trying to find at least one thing (however, the more the better) that you admire about that person, and connecting with them surrounding that. The authors state: “In the end, though, empathy doesn’t involve finding what you like in someone else. It involves finding the humanity in someone else, even in their weakness, and connecting that humanity to your own” (98).

A study of over 38,000 leaders and their organizations (conducted by Hay/McBer), found that “leadership styles that rely heavily on empathy tended to create a more positive company climate {…}” (99), and as we can imagine, a more positive company climate will lead to positive company results.

This week, challenge yourself to connect with others, and especially to those whom you may know you’ll have trouble connecting with. See what a difference empathy can make on your path to developing your leadership presence.

Works Cited

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

Before Your Next Trip Overseas…

Travelling abroad for work can often be an exciting and rewarding perk of your career. It is an opportunity to visit a new place, meet new people and see new sights. Often, traveling abroad for work isn’t always just about work, and usually involves some leisure time as well.

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You will be conducting business with those you are traveling to meet, and perhaps even travelling around the city or country with them as well during some leisure time.

As much as your mind is (and should be) focused on the important meetings to come, it is imperative that you take the time to do some research on the culture you will be visiting before you leave the comfort of your home. Ed Fuller from Marriott International, details the importance of knowing about others’ culture while traveling, in his article for Forbes Magazine.

Before you leave on your trip, consider completing some of the following exercises so that you can get the most out of your business trip, which will benefit both you personally, as well as the company you represent.

Watch YouTube videos

YouTube videos are a great way to see and hear about a foreign culture. Videos might be the most effective research tool, as you get both sound and movement, and can really start to appreciate the culture of a certain country.

There are also endless videos out there, and so finding appropriate ones should be fairly simple. For instance, you can search “traditional Peruvian meal” and watch how a meal might be cooked as well as consumed. You may also search things such as “traditional Indian dance” or “Moroccan cultural ceremonies.”

Learn your “hello’s” and “goodbye’s”

It is always a good idea to learn a few basic words or phrases in the language of the country you are visiting. Not only will it show that you did your research (this will likely be viewed as a sign of respect), but it is a great way to connect with others on a deeper level, which may help to foster and grow professional relationships.

If you don’t have a great memory, or if you don’t have time to sit and memorize how to say “thank you” in Swahili, create a cheat sheet before you leave that you can study on your 24 flight to Kenya. 

Pick up a small travel guide of your destination 

Many bookstores sell small travel guides to the majority of popular destinations. In them, you’ll find a plethora of information on the country in question in a(n often) very small package, one that you can likely take with you in your carry-on. It will outline many common phrases, places to eat, and sights to see.

The fact that this is a business trip, as opposed to a leisure vacation, indicates that it is important to learn as much about the new culture as possible. This will reflect extremely well on you as a business professional, which will also translate back to your company. Present your best and most informed self, especially when traveling for business.

 

How To Nurture Your Newest Contacts

If you’re a professional, you know the utter power and influence networking possesses. Networking isn’t always a formal event; it can consist of essentially any activity in which the opportunity to meet new people is present (a tennis tournament, your daughters skating arena, lunch with coworkers, or a family get-together).

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As a professional, it’s important to recognize that just about everything you do, and everywhere you go, has the potential to be a networking opportunity. In fact, grocery stores across Canada have picked up on the opportunity for young singles to meet while picking up their essentials, and have created “singles night” to encourage the behaviour (see this link for the detailed article). Opportunities exist all over, and it’s important to seize them.

But then what?

What happens after you meet someone new is more important than meeting them in the first place. It is one thing if you are a networking pro and have no problems approaching strangers and striking up a conversation, but it’s what you do with those new contacts that really matters.

Always follow up

It is important not to lose your new contacts’ card somewhere deep in your wallet, only to discover it a year later. No matter how important (or possibly, unimportant) you believe this contact to be, always follow up the following day with a short email. The email might discuss your first meeting, and a suggestion to go for coffee the following week. It is also an opportunity for you to connect with them on LinkedIn.

The idea here is to keep the conversation flowing; to build and nurture the relationship you just formed.

Keep new contacts organized

Having a huge pile of business cards on your desk will not help you nurture your new contacts. As soon as you receive a new card, import the information onto your computer or phone. This will also make it easier to send out greetings during a holiday (another great way to nurture your contacts). If you think you will not remember who the person is or the company they work for, file/tag them by event date or name.

 Remember, it’s a two-way street

 Networking and building your contact base is definitely beneficial to you and your professional career. You recognize the power and importance of having a large network. However it’s also important to remember how you can help your new contacts. Let your knew contacts know about the qualities you possess that may be beneficial to them, and offer your time should they be interested. We call this positive networking.

Don’t take networking for granted, and certainly, don’t take your new contacts for granted! Let them know that they are appreciated, and keep the dialogue flowing.