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.

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!

Leadership Training Online: Virtual Learning Proven to be 600% Better!

While the full implications of COVID-19 are still unknown, one of the major shifts most businesses have experienced is clear — customers scaling back their in-person purchases and going online instead.

In the key area of “Learning and Development” emerging evidence points to the same, a huge shift in how training, coaching and consulting is delivered.

In our training and coaching practice, we saw very quickly that teams around the world had to rapidly learn how to collaborate with one another virtually all whilst working remotely and under great stress brought on by uncertainty at so many levels.

At CCI, recognizing the pressure this was adding to leaders and workers around the globe, we quickly pivoted, offered virtual workshops and accelerated the completion of a robust Leadership Training Online Program we had been working on.

Why Leadership Training Online?

Recent research, conducted by the Neuroleadership Institute, shows that virtual learning, when done right, can be dramatically more effective than in-person workshops.

“In fact, an analysis of the likelihood of people taking action on a learning program, showed that a smart virtual learning program was around six times more likely to get people to take actions than the usual way learning is delivered in person. Not 6% better, or 60% better, but 600% better.”

The purpose of learning is to better ourselves, our skills, our decision making and ultimately our environment. Much of the training organizations are now investing in, involves human skills.

The ability to work effectively together, motivate, inspire and influence, especially under times of uncertainty and changes, is critical to the success of an organization.

And, leadership training online, a new way to virtually learn and grow, can take you from where you are to where you want to be.

Whether it is about:

  • How you show up in a Zoom meeting
  • Engage in difficult conversations
  • Stand out when you speak as you deliver an important presentation
  • How you provide psychological safety for everyone to have their voices heard
  • Run inclusive meetings
  • Mitigate biases
  • Enhance your emotional intelligence for greater effectiveness in your daily interaction
  • …And more

One thing is undeniable — being present, intentional and in the moment is where great leaders shine.

CCI’s Leadership Training Online Program

Our Leadership Presence: Leadership Training Online Program has been designed with a unique approach for sustainable learning.

Our modules are short and highly interactive. Through the use of videos, quizzes, coaching tips, extra resources, a comprehensive workbook, and the possibility for private coaching as an option, the learning is impactful, transformational and long-lasting.

Leverage this unique opportunityand seize the moment to grow and flourish, individually, as a team and as an organization.

This is your moment to shine, elevate your confidence, and increase your competitive advantage by embarking on a life-changing learning journey!

When is Punctuality Important for Business and in the Workplace?

punctuality in business and in the workplace

Question: When is punctuality important for business or at work?
Answer: Always!

The importance of being on time is taught to us from a very young age. It should be no surprise, then, that lessons in punctuality stay relevant throughout our lives and work.

Punctuality informs many aspects of Executive Presence. Being on time helps you to establish a good reputation and allows others to trust you. When you are punctual, your professional image appears polished and organized, rather than hurried and haphazard. Above all, it’s simply the professional standard to be consistently punctual. Yet many people still fail to meet this standard.

Here are a few examples of professional contexts where punctuality is key – and why being on time can be a deal breaker. If you are someone who is chronically late, let these examples inspire you to become an early bird!

First Impressions: Interviews & Initial Meetings

punctuality at interview

It should go without saying, but it is never acceptable to be late to an interview. This is such a common standard that some employers will refuse to interview a candidate if he or she is even one or two minutes late.

Other than interviews, there are many contexts where first impressions and punctuality go hand in hand. For example, consider the early stages of a partnership or a deal. If the person with whom you are negotiating walks into a meeting 10 minutes late, would you trust them to stay organized and present throughout your relationship? The answer is likely no. In this case, something as harmless as a bad habit can ruin a business relationship before it even begins.

Meeting Deadlines and Completing Work on Time

When you consistently complete documents, finish projects, or produce any other kind of output on time, it reflects positively on your work ethic and your quality of work. Not only will colleagues notice your personal standards, but they will also acknowledge your commitment to your company and its success.

By contributing your own work on time, your actions show that you want your company to stay on track and meet its goals. Others in your organization will take note – and such clear demonstration of dedication to a company is a solid foundation for advancing within that organization.

Arriving on Time to Internal Meetings

For regular internal meetings, some employees may deprioritize their importance and take a casual approach – which often entails showing up late. Even though regular meetings may not often be as critical as an initial meeting or a deal, do not assume that they are not “important.”

Close colleagues may understand if you are occasionally late due to bad traffic or a long appointment. However, avoid making a habit out of tardiness to internal meetings. After a while, those in your company will begin to notice your style and it will begin to hinder how they perceive you. More importantly, this could affect how you do – or do not – advance within your company.

Workplace Productivity and Team Morale

Punctuality in the workplace is directly related to team morale. When people show up chronically late, the flow of work is disrupted with other team members having to cover up for delayed co-workers.

Tension and resentment can rise within a team, with punctual members feeling a lack of respect, and getting agitated each time they need to cover for a colleague and take over additional responsibilities. Modern workspaces thrive on teamwork and interdependency, so if this becomes a pattern, it can dampen team morale and reduce the overall productivity of a team.

Reflect Your Company’s Reputation

In today’s cut-throat competitive market, companies that don’t consistently deliver on time, fall out of favour. No matter what role you play, being committed to punctuality showcases your commitment to your client — a sign of someone who demonstrates the desire to do the job well, and is well-prepared.

Every employee is a reflection of the organization. When someone is chronically late, it reflects on the firm or the business. This can cause customers to lose confidence. An unfavourable vibe about your company may also start floating in the community, leading to fewer referrals and less business.

Be Perceived as a Future Leader

Punctuality in the workplace and in business reflects professionalism. Your reputation and the way you are perceived is an important asset to getting ahead. When team leaders regard you as punctual, and someone they can rely on, they are more likely to include you in new and important projects, as no one wants to work with someone who is likely to miss a critical deadline.

Simply being on time puts you in a position to be seen as more competent, loyal and dedicated to your work and the firm. These qualities come in very handy to be perceived as a future leader, especially when management is looking to promote.

How to Encourage Punctuality in Business and in the Workplace

So, how can you inspire employees to be on time and promote punctuality in the workplace?

As a business leader, the most important thing you can do, is to lead by example.

Model the desired behaviour you expect, by arriving to work on time, and starting meetings and trainings on the dot. For staff who always seem to be late, warnings and potential suspensions rarely work and don’t always change behaviour.

Instead, reward punctual team members with an extra bonus or some added time off, giving tardy employees a genuine incentive to be on time.

Above are a few examples of the many contexts in which punctuality in the workplace and in business is key to building leadership presence, and the progression of your career or company. After all, there is much truth to the saying, “the early bird catches the worm!”

Silence Speaks Volumes and Why You Need to Master it to Get Heard

silence speaks volumes

Recently I read an anecdote about the power of silence. It described an event with thousands of people crowded into one room, with everyone chatting at once and no one paying attention to the individuals speaking at the front of the room.

Three speakers failed to get the attention of the crowd – until, at last, one speaker simply stood in silence in front of the microphone. Soon after, all eyes were on him and you could hear a pin drop in the room.

He achieved this using no words at all.

Immediately it reminded me of a keynote speaker at a conference I had attended a few weeks earlier. He was introduced by the Master of Ceremony and once the introduction was complete, the keynote speaker started his way up to the podium. He was already all mic’d up and started speaking before he even reached the lectern.

Results: No one was ready and missed his first comments.

By the time he got to the lectern, he was well within his presentation. It felt like we had missed the beginning of a movie and then were trying to figure out what’s happening. Had he waited to reach the lectern, paused, looked at the 4 corners of the room to make sure he was connecting with everyone, and then began to speak, it would have made a world of difference.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to recover.

He had failed to get everyone’s attention by not using silence to create anticipation, and not waiting for everyone’s eyes to be on him, before he began to deliver his message.

This story inspired me to think that silence speaks volumes, and of the great value of silence in business, and what using silence can accomplish to:

  • capture the attention of a crowd
  • demonstrate respect
  • speak using other forms of non-verbal communication
  • help you be the most articulate you can be

In this post, we’ll cover a few of the many ways silence speaks volumes, and why you need to master it to get heard.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Listen Up!

silence speaks volumes

In a conversation, sometimes the most important thing you can contribute is simply listening.

To remain silent and listen may seem like no contribution at all, but it takes effort to be fully present in a conversation – and the rewards pay off.

Some people may have the “gift of the gab” but ultimately, being a skilled listener takes equal or more attention to detail.

Listening is hard work that requires focus, practice, and patience. Apart from being the hallmark of a good conversationalist, the ability to really listen is invaluable. 

  • Listening at Level I

This is all about grabbing control of the conversation.

For example:

Person A: Where did you spend your last vacation?

Person B: I went to India.

Person A: I love India. The Taj Mahal is amazing – gigantic, beautiful. I have never experienced so much poverty and so much luxury at the same time. And we took a train; then we had a driver for part of our trip…

  • Listening at Level II

This is a give and take – a two-way conversation.

Person A: Where did you go on vacation last summer?

Person B: I went to India.

Person A: What did you enjoy most about your trip?

Person B: The people! 

  • Listening at Level III

This is all about listening to the environment.

When you enter a room — what is the mood?

Or, when you enter a boardroom — do you sense tension? How do you adapt? Is the mood somber? What can you do to lighten things up? If the boardroom is quiet, it would never occur to you to speak loudly.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Pay Attention

What can you expect to learn from another individual, whether a mentor, colleague, superior, or friend, if you constantly feel the need to assert your own opinion?

  • In a professional setting with new or unfamiliar information, keep your ears open constantly. By taking in the most knowledge as possible from others, you will continue to learn and grow — which will lead to upward mobility in your career.
  • Show the utmost respect to the person you are conversing with by silencing your other conversations. Unless absolutely necessary, take your cell phone off the table during meetings. When someone comes to your office to talk, darken your computer screen or close your laptop. This will help you focus on the individual and will make your meetings more efficient, too.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Choose Your Words

silence speaks volumes

Never be afraid of letting a conversation hang in brief silence before answering a question or responding to a comment. In fact, you should get used to it!

  • Before immediately jumping to respond to a question or comment, take a moment to reflect on your words. Not only will this help you to craft a more articulate response, it will also incite the attention of others. People will begin to notice that you take time, energy, and thought into answering a question — and that you are not simply blurting out the first thing that pops into your mind.
  • This is an especially important tip during a job interview or a first-time meeting with a client. It creates a positive first impression that you are a thoughtful, conscious individual. This first impression will inform your professional relationships and will work to your advantage.

Silence Speaks Volumes: Body Language

Silence speaks for itself.  

When you are silent, in no way does it mean you are not communicating. The next time you are not talking, pay close attention to how you may be speaking without words.

  • Body language, even when standing still, says a lot about you and your attitude. Are you standing with slouched shoulders, arms crossed, or fidgeting? If so, others may perceive you as bored or apathetic. Or, is your posture aligned, your shoulders back, and hands on your hips or at your sides? This suggests you are confident, prepared, and alert.
  • When listening to someone, eye contact is key to let that person know that you are interested in and engaged with what they are saying. If you are truly listening but your eyes are wandering around the room, the speaker might suspect your indifference.
  • Just like silence speaks volumes, your professional image speaks volumes about you too. If you do not take the time to polish your image by paying attention to dress codes, fit and cut of clothing, age-appropriate attire, and grooming, your image can silently override anything you have to say – no matter how articulate you are.

At Corporate Class, our expert facilitators provide in-person and live online leadership training that covers everything you need to know about mastering body language, communicating with confidence, nailing first impressions, leading with purpose, and more!

Learn more about our Individual Training programs or get in touch with us to host a customized Business Workshop.

You can also master your leadership, body language and presentation skills with CCI’s Online Self-Paced Leadership Presence System!

leadership presence training program

Leadership Presence Checklist

leadership styles

There are six distinctive leadership styles, based on Harvard University research that leaders need in their repertoire. The skill is recognizing when to activate, and how to blend or merge the various styles. How do you measure up? Take inventory of your personal leadership styles.

Three long-term styles:

Visionary

A Visionary style sets standards and monitors performance in relation to the larger vision. Sometimes, a visionary style may be described as inspirational. Consider for a moment how it would feel like to work on a team with no vision.A thorough understanding of the organization’s vision and the skill to articulate it to team members is fundamental to this leadership style:

  • Do you know the vision of your company?
  • Can you articulate it to your team?

Participative

This style complements and combines well with a Visionary style. Because it recognizes teams versus individuals, it can be a challenging environment for achievement-driven team members. This is particularly true when it’s overused; leaders may appear incapable of making a decision without team consensus.

Leaders with a Participative style:

  • Hold regular meetings
  • Listen to employees’ concerns
  • Drill down to the How
  • Identify opportunities for positive feedback
  • Stress the importance of how employee morale impacts performance
  • Avoid performance-related confrontations

Coaching

A Coaching style is focused on long-term development of team members by providing ongoing instruction, as well as balanced feedback. Leaders with this style are typically very experienced in their roles and as a result, have a high comfort level with delegating. In the best-case scenarios, coaching leaders are prepared to trade off immediate results for long-term development of team members. A willingness to accept short-term failures and disappointments is indispensable for this style. Without this component, the “coach” will be viewed as phony and fake.

Three short-term styles for specific, usually limited application
Affiliative

An Affiliative Style:

  • Identifies opportunities for positive feedback
  • Stresses the importance of how employee morale impacts performance
  • Avoids performance-related confrontations

Although a leader with this style may appear to be supportive and want to be friends with everyone – when overused, these leaders may have a hard time making tough decisions. With time, people may take advantage. Following innumerable chances, opportunities and latitude, when there are disappointing results, this leader may become frustrated – shifting to tight reins and more control.

Pacesetting

This style pairs well with both a Visionary style and a Coaching style.
The Pacesetter:

  • Is apprehensive about delegating
  • Takes away responsibility when high performance is not forthcoming
  • Rescues risk-prone situations

Faced with tight deadlines, this can be a very effective style. It can lift spirits and resonates with people who learn by watching. If overused, even the highest achievers may start to decrease their discretionary effort while other less performance-focused team members may feel overwhelmed by the Pacesetter.

Directive

This style best reserved for critical situations. The captain of a fire department is a prime example of a leader who must use this style.

The Directive leader:

  • Controls tightly
  • Explains by directing or commanding
  • Motivates by stating the negative consequences of noncompliance
  • Offers short-term clarity and action plan

When overused in non-threatening situations, it’s often demotivating; nothing happens without the input of the leader – creating a bottleneck with the team.

Learn more about our Leadership Presence workshops for corporations and individuals.

Leadership Presence demands 6 leadership styles

leadership styles

No single style is more important than any other. What is important, is to be aware of the six essential leadership styles.

In today’s competitive business environment, leaders face a daily challenge to exceed expectations. The ability to remain focused and proactive, while steering the ship with a steady hand and delivering results requires Leadership Presence. Unquestionably, a nimble ability to adapt to the shifting swings in corporate life is a mandatory component.

At Corporate Class Inc., we recognize that Leadership Presence requires this repertoire of leadership styles for varying situations. Consider playing a round of golf with just one club – would you play a good game? Likely not. The same holds true for a repertoire of leadership styles. While golfers must learn to choose from 14 different clubs for every shot, aspiring leaders are faced with only six leadership styles.

Leadership Presence for aspiring leaders

It’s imperative to understand that there is, indeed, a learning curve. It’s steep, but attainable. One of the first principles of Leadership Presence is that there is no single profile:

“There’s a tendency to equate leadership with command…yet leadership comes in many forms.”
— Dr. Kathleen Kelley Reardon, USC management professor, leading corporate consultant, author and blogger (Excerpt from The Secret Handshake)

These six styles are applicable to any company, any industry and any culture

Although studies have shown that leaders typically have a very narrow range of styles, according to Harvard University findings these six styles create an optimal toolkit and equip people for every situation:

1. Visionary style

A Visionary style provides short, and long-term vision, direction and goals. It’s a style that cannot be overused but it’s most effective paired with other styles to influence employees by explaining both the organization’s interests and employee interests.

2. Participative style

A Participative style invites employees to participate in the development of decisions and actively seeks opportunities for consensus. It is often characterized as a supportive style. A Participative style does not reward individuals but the group as a whole.

3. Coaching style

A Coaching style encourages long-term development of employees. Leaders should know the individual short and long-term development goals for every team member and strive to help them achieve their objectives. A coaching style is logical and persuasive; it relies on careful explanations and reasoning.

4. Affiliative style

An Affiliative style focuses on people, not results – and places emphasis on developing relationships with employees.

5. Pacesetting style

A Pacesetting style leads by example in an atmosphere where there is little patience for poor performance. Pacesetters actively jump in and steer, instead of delegating.

6. Directive Style

A Directive Style uses tight control and demands immediate compliance of employees. It provides instruction, not direction, by telling employees what to do.

What’s important to understand is that when it comes to Leadership Presence, the emphasis is on having a full repertoire of styles. Visionary, Participative and Coaching are all categorized as “long-term styles.” They may be applied in combination and set the tone for sustained productivity.

Affiliative, Directive and Pacesetting are categorized as “short-term.” These three are often effective in highly emotional, difficult and extreme situations. Consider the golf club analogy. Some, like the sand wedge, have very specific and limited application and this applies to short-term leadership styles.

Learn more about our Leadership Presence workshops for corporations and individuals.

Ask Corporate Class

leadership presence

This week we introduce a new feature where we answer your questions. Please see the link below for submission details.

Question:

Please explain Leadership Presence Workshops, who should attend and the material covered.

Answer:

Today, the expressions executive presence and leadership skills are often used interchangeably. We selected Leadership Presence to describe training specifically for management that administers teams. It’s training for people already recognized within their organizations as leaders, who are responsible for driving results.

Our focus is training to facilitate and develop stronger, more reflective judgments that generate greater team productivity. The 2-day interactive workshop builds on the fundamentals of team dynamics. Last month we introduced Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report. This survey absolutely reaffirms the significance of teams:

“Agility plays a central role in the organization of the future, as companies race to replace structural hierarchies with networks of team empowered to take action.”


Leadership Presence Workshop examines five keys to leading a team

The core content is based on the five keys that are the door openers to guiding, driving, influencing and actually leading teams:

  • Emotional Intelligence: A so-called “soft skill,” or people skill – we examine how empathy can and should be implemented in real-time business applications.
  • When leaders learn to decipher their own motives and values, they are better equipped to assess those of team members.
  • Integrating specific elements to create a productive “climate” that stimulates daily team interactions.
  • Setting team goals– how to move from theory to implementation.
  • Understanding leadership style options – and how to select the correct one for the moment.

Leadership styles

Today, being an effective leader requires having a broad repertoire of leadership styles for varying situations. Consider playing a round of golf with just one club – would you play a good game? Likely not.

The same is true of the need for a repertoire of leadership styles. According to Harvard University findings there are six styles: 3-long term styles and 3-short term styles that create an optimal toolkit and equip leaders for every situation.During the workshop we examine the six styles; all are applicable to any size company, any industry and any culture.

The six leadership styles are:

  • Visionary
  • Participative
  • Coaching
  • Directive
  • Affiliative
  • Pacesetting

Studies have shown that leaders typically have a very narrow repertoire of styles they use with their teams. Participants have an opportunity to explore and expand their own styles. This creates the ability and awareness of when to adopt a specific style based on the circumstances, team members engaged and desired outcome.

Sustainability Program

Leadership Presence Workshops feature an optional Sustainability Program offering continuous check-in consultations to further enhance the learned skills.

Some final thoughts from Trend 1 of the Deloitte report:
“As this new type of organization takes hold, working in teams will likely become the norm in business, and dynamism will become an organizational hallmark. Building and supporting teams will be leaders’ principal tasks.” (Our highlights)

Submit your question to Corporate Class Inc. Please note: Every effort is made to answer questions in a timely manner.

The ONE Thing You Must Learn to Share to Improve Your Leadership Presence

improve leadership presence

So, you’re a leader. You inspire and motivate those around you; you have a dedicated, loyal group of followers; you have a vision for the future. You’re doing great!

Wait. Do those around you, including your dedicated group of followers, know your vision? Do you communicate that vision with them? Do you know what it will take to attain that vision, and how those in your circle can help you get there?

We often hear leaders identify themselves as visionaries. Perhaps they are, but they don’t seem to be perceived as such. When we debrief our clients on their Executive Presence 360, many of them indicate that they are visionaries. To their surprise, their respondents don’t indicate that as an attribute. Why the disconnect?

Leaders are laser focused and move towards their goals with that vision in mind. They ask their team members to work on certain tasks without sharing their vision. They omit to explain why what they asked them to do is so important. Sharing your vision will not only help you attain that vision, it will inspire and motivate your team to forge ahead and help you make that vision a reality.

The “Why” Factor

Simon Sinek, popular author, speaker and consultant, explains how great leaders inspire action through their vision during his Ted Talk. According to Sinek, all great leaders and organizations think, act and communicate in the exact same way, which just so happens to be the opposite way of everyone else. Sinek calls this method of communication the Golden Circle.

In the middle of the circle is the “Why”, then comes the “How,” and finally, the “What.”Everyone knows what they do, some know how they do it, but very few know why they do what they do (the purpose, cause). That’s why most of us communicate from the outside in – we share our “What” first.

All great leaders, on the other hand, communicate from the inside out; they share their “why,” or their vision, first. As Sinek says: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” He uses the example of Apple to demonstrate this theory by explaining that Apple, a computer company, shares their vision first, and that’s what we buy into – it just so happens they make great computers. But it’s the “why” that Apple shares with us that leads us to buy any product that they develop, whether it’s a computer, DVR, MP3, television, etc.

Being a visionary is a core trait of a great leader, however the secret lies in your ability to communicate that vision to others. If those in your circles do not see you as a visionary, and you see yourself as one, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage and inspire your followers even more. Be the leader you know you can be, and share your vision!

To find out more how you can increase your leadership abilities, including learning how to share your vision, take a look at our Leadership Presence workshops!