visibility

The key to Videoing like a LinkedIn Ninja

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How to Video like a LinkedIn Ninja - and did video really kill the LinkedIn star?

When I first started videoing, I was 🤮 dreadful.

Not just a little bit awful; I was truly catastrophic.
So much so that -

  • I'd do 10–20 takes to get one short clip

  • I'd be umming, ahhing and stumbling over words that normally came easily plus

  • I'd often forget my place right at the killer point and have to start again.

“A picture is worth a thousand words........and a video is worth a thousand pictures!”
— Ankala V Subbarao

Most of those initial clips never saw the light of day! And here's hoping they never will 🤣😂🤭

So, how did so many other people look so good, so fast? I couldn’t work it out and this kept me second guessing myself.

When LinkedIn launched video, it seemed like everyone jumped on the band wagon, and with recent technology advancements, video is far easier and quicker to produce than writing a blog.

According to research, on average, users spend around 5–6 hours consuming video content daily (yes, you read that right). Plus this figure is only set to increase, rapidly, as we become more time poor, consuming content between the cracks of our professional and personal lives.

So what happened? What did I learn that made it easier and helped me get better?

Learning #1 - Stop trying to prove myself. I was trying to be too intellectual. This came from that deep seated worry that I'm not really good enough. I'm not unusual. Research and anecdotal evidence says that when women start their self-promotion game, we often try and over prove ourselves. Unfortunately, this came through on camera with me packing too much information in and using language that was far too academic. But once I pulled on my big girl pants, and dosed myself with a shot of confidence, I naturally did better ... and it shows.

Learning #2 - Stop trying to be perfect yet expect progress. I learned to give myself permission to be bad at the start and to respect the journey. Some things fall into place much easier with less of a learning curve but maybe not video. Just like learning to do a headstand, you wouldn’t expect to do one in your first yoga class.

If you want to try using video to self-promote on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram, but are feeling a bit anxious. Or maybe you want to add video into your mix for addressing remote staff or creating content for the intranet at work, but worry you’ll shoot yourself in the foot, here are five practical tips that might help you tackle your video self-promotion strategy more confidently.

  1. Don't over complicate it. Pick one idea and speak to that. Just one simple idea. It could be answering one common question from your audience or one common problem that you know how to solve from which your audience may benefit. Consider a piece of a project that your audience might be interested in or an idea from a book that changed your life. Whatever the topic, pick one and save the rest for another day.

  2. Have a conversation. Use language as though you were chatting with a professional friend. I call it BBQ language—it’s as though you had friends over for a BBQ and you’re talking about your work. You wouldn’t use jargon or a bunch of annual report rhetoric, unless you want their eyes to glaze over. You’d personalise it; use real language, real context with real stories.

  3. Brief is best. People are time poor. Most people won't even watch more than 1 minute. Attention spans are short (and getting shorter). Make it easy for yourself - and your audience.

  4. Smile. I was so nervous about the video that I was forgetting to smile. Yet when you smile, it comes through in your voice; you connect better and find everyone enjoys the video more.

  5. Look at the lens. Look at the actual camera lens. Hard to find on the phone sometimes. This small thing was an absolute game changer. Put a dot, a piece of blue tack, anything, near the lens and look directly at that.

    So the question remains - did video really kill the LinkedIn star?

    Only if she dies of embarrassment!

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And get in touch if you want help with building your executive brand!

#executiveimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #selfpromotionmatters

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Farewell Julie Bishop

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“As crass as it is to concentrate on a lady's wardrobe, it is impossible to avoid comment on the former foreign minister's choice of frock for the announcement. Pure, dazzling white. The choice of the suffragettes, the choice of Democratic women lodging a visually-arresting protest against Donald Trump during the recent State of The Union, the choice indeed of Joan of Arc as she rode into battle.

Joan's was a gift from Charles VII; Julie's was probably more likely to be Armani, but there's no doubt that white is the colour for women of courage who are not afraid either of male-dominated environments or of eating a tomato sandwich at work.”

#IHeartAnnabelCrabb

Thanks to the ABC and @AnnabelCrabb for this stunning social commentary. Finally journalists getting it right. Still focused on her appearance, but quite possibly Ms Bishop did intend it that way.

> READ MORE https://lnkd.in/fihbeXU

#womenofimpact #leadingwomen #visibilityandvulnerability

 
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Celebrating strong, fierce, tough, talented and powerful women in sport who inspire us to greater heights

With International Women's Day 2019 just around the corner maybe it’s time to get revved back up again and focused on what we can do, rather than what we can’t.

So much we read about what women, women leading and feminine ambition is focused on what we can’t do and keeps us playing small.

Loved this inspiration from the #IWD2018 World Triathlon

(You can thank me later ☺️)

Three amazing and athletic women in my network who set the standard high!

  • Victoria Symes

  • Samantha Phillips and

  • Lisa Walton

I’m sure there are many others but these three were top of mind.

Who is a strong, fierce, tough, talented and powerful woman who inspires you?

#IWD2019 #womenofimpact #inspiringwomen

 
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.
— Gertrude Stein
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Thank you!

Thanks for being part of my tribe of ambitious, badass woman of impact. It's been, and continues to be, a wonderful journey.

Thanks also to everyone who is connected to me on LinkedIn for helping me reach my first 10,000 connections on the platform! 

One of my fabulous clients (who incidentally was acknowledged by LinkedIn with a 2017 Power Profile) challenged me to crack the 10K mark a little faster. Congratulations to Jayne Ward, for her strategy and determination to stand out in the crowd. Awesome work. And thanks also to her for issuing the challenge to me to up my own game.

(And yes, I'm so uncool, I was watching as the counter clicked over.)

And while it was a significant milestone in my mind - it felt no-where near as rewarding as hearing from you with one of your wins and/or achievements!

So do drop me a note with one of your own wins! 

 


Remember the Friday Formula?

EVERY Friday, never fail, from now on until the end of eternity ....

  • What did you achieve this week?
  • What is the benefit you delivered (financial or otherwise)?
  • What is the expertise you used to deliver that achievement?
  • Can you quantity this? ($value or % turnaround, CSAT etc)?

Let's get in the habit of quantifying wins and building confidence. 

Let's Connect!

If you have yet to connect with me on LinkedIn then why not do it now? I share great content and have a lot of fun on there. I'd love you to join me there too.

Feminine leadership superpowers + wins & achievements = priceless

 

Feeling like it's time for you to win? Book in a 45 min one on one  phone call with me to learn more.
 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

How to Be a LinkedIn Ninja - 10 levels

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  • Still unsure about how LinkedIn really works?
  • Need help letting go of your training wheels and getting more confident on the platform?
  • Just maybe you need to aim for LinkedIn Ninja status - executing bold, audacious LinkedIn connection, engagement and positioning tactics with grace and effortless ease.

Here are some typical LinkedIn profile types and behaviours to avoid so you gain mastery more easily.

Which profile type are you?

1. The Naysayer – totally in denial about the platform. You refuse to sign up for the platform, and criticise/judge those who do actively engage.

As unbelievable as this sounds, there are people out there who have yet to buy the LinkedIn dream. But as you’re reading this on LinkedIn I’m guessing you aren’t one of them!

What would I say to those who haven’t bought the dream yet? Social selling is a skill that is becoming increasingly more important. With flexible working arrangements, remote teams and globalisation of customer bases and followings, you definitely need to be able to persuade, influence and sell you and your ideas, both face to face AND online. LinkedIn is a great training ground and enables you to do this efficiently, smartly and affordably. Be there or be square. Don’t miss the boat.

2. The Loser - you have less than 100 connections, you’ve never heard of the 500+ connections unwritten ground rule and it’s obvious you’d really rather not be on LinkedIn.

Time to switch up your thinking. Start strategically connecting on a weekly basis – up, sideways and down – and with your future career goals in mind. Also, don’t forget to sync your mobile and/or your email device as a quick hack. Crack that 500+ barrier sooner rather than later.

3. The Near Enough is Good Enough - your profile pic is a selfie, or a glamour shot, or it looks like you cut your significant other out of the photo in a rush, and any of your LinkedIn activity is by happy accident rather than by design.

If you think of LinkedIn as a high end department store window display, that might help. In that window display you want to have next season's fashions on show. Not last season’s stock or end of line run-outs.

So how does that impact your LinkedIn profile? Your profile pic needs to be you on a good (and professional) day at the very least. And if you’re really serious about this, do invest in a photo-shoot done by a professional with your aspirational career goals in mind. Your profile needs to be pitched for the job you want, not the one you have.

4. The Behind the Times - you think of your profile purely as an online CV, and not even a very good one at that, and you’re playing a passive waiting game

A few years back the pundits were predicting that LinkedIn would replace the CV. And we’re seeing that right now, with some organisations providing interview panels with LinkedIn profiles only, not CVs, to help with candidate selection.

However, as the candidate, LinkedIn also enables you to demonstrate so much more than a regular CV, with the three tools of Executive Branding - presence, personal branding and positioning. For those aiming for LinkedIn Ninja status, go beyond the notion that LinkedIn is an online CV and focus more on carving out a powerful Executive Brand instead.

5. The Cheer Squad - you limit your involvement to random 'thumbs up' and 'great article' comments, and you wistfully observe others who are more confident expressing their opinion.

This is particularly relevant to those in the business of creating a movement. Quite possibly The Cheer Squad activities provide a great training ground, but you’ll need to move onto commenting, sharing and publishing sooner rather than later, or your movement may end up being more of a ripple.

6. The Stalker - you passively read articles and view profiles in the background, maybe even with your identify hidden.

Given the importance of trust in building meaningful on and offline relationships, stalkerish behaviour will undermine trust. 

As Lao Tzu said

"He who does not trust enough will not be trusted."

Obviously there are some situations where protecting your identity is paramount. But in most circumstances, being more overt will help build trust more easily.

If you are in the business of leading, then as Jesse Lyn Stoner reminds us

"People follow leaders by choice. Without trust, at best you get compliance." 

7. The Now You See Me, Now You Don’t - where you are super active in fits and starts, but when work gets busy you are least in sight. You try anything once or twice but with no plan, no system and no strategy.

You’ve probably heard of visibility as part of a career strategy. This is where you need to ensure you are seen and heard by decision makers inside and outside the business to ensure your own career progression. Well it works the same online. In a nutshell, if people can’t see you, they’ll forget about you more easily. Remember the rule of thumb ‘consistency trumps frequency’, stick a weekly LinkedIn visibility appointment in your calendar and you’ll be fine.  

8. The Squeaky Wheel – you’re on a mission with a cause with articles you like, share and publish clearly articulating a problem set, but never offering solutions.

Just like the boy who cried wolf, you want to make sure that people stay tuned into what you have on offer. It’s great to critique, but even better if you can then back that up with painting a picture of the future that others will want to inhabit. Unpack your key messages in multiple ways, to ensure you don’t sound like a broken record. Share positive and aspirational messages also, to ensure you don’t get a reputation as as ‘The Department of No’.

9. The Dominator – where you dominate the feed morning, noon or night, leaving others wondering when you fit work in, and you yourself begin to wonder why your post engagement is dropping.

Stop being busy, start being strategic. Think about how someone already super successful in your industry would typically behave on LinkedIn and emulate. If people start believing that all you do is sit on LinkedIn all day, you’re defeating the purpose and appearing desperate rather than successful. Bashing someone over the head with an idea, won’t make them believe in it any faster. In a nutshell, entice people in and leave them wanting more.

10. The LinkedIn Ninja – aka Linked-Ninja - you have fine tuned your social selling abilities and execute them effectively, efficiently and with effortless ease. You understand that LinkedIn is predominantly about building engagement, trust and rapport, so all your efforts are nuanced, coordinated and graceful. By way of metrics you’ve got;

  • A top 1% viewed profile in both your industry AND in your network,
  • A social selling index of 90% (check it out www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi/)
  • 3000+ connections with a repeatable plan for both engaging with those connections and growing new connections in the direction of your goals
  • Your average viewing rate on shares = 3000+
  • Your thumbs up rate on shares averages 50+
  • You have an average of 300+ viewing/eyeball rate on articles published
  • Your activity is all branded or themed and in alignment with your long term goals
  • Most importantly, you have a game behind the game – a long term goal that you hope to achieve with LinkedIn as just one part of the plan. And for the LinkedIn Ninja you are achieving in all those other areas of your life as well.

It’s a wrap!

Don’t mistake the map for the territory. Person to person connection and networking should still make up a significant part of your plan.

And here's wishing for you to achieve LinkedIn Ninja status with ease.

Share if you dare! And help a friend achieve LinkedIn mastery more easily.

And here are a couple more articles you might also like

___________________________________________________

 

  • Amanda Blesing is a speaker, mentor, trainer and thinker on all things Executive Brand
  • She has accidental LinkedIn Ninja status and helps busy experts and executive women to avoid making the same mistakes that she did!
  • Sign up for weekly inspiration straight to your inbox www.amandablesing.com

 

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #success #career #executivebranding #personalbrand #standout #leadership #executivewomen #careerfutureproofing

 

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

#1 Advice for Women Nominating for Awards

How to craft a winning Award nomination and why you (yes you) should be nominating.

One way to stand out in a crowd is to win, or be nominated for, an Award.

"Easier said than done" you say.

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And you could be right some of the time - but not others.

For the uninitiated you might imagine you need to wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. It simply doesn’t work that way!  

In fact, you need to do much of the work yourself including putting your hand up to be in it to win it, getting out of your own way and talking up your own wins and achievements in delivering turnaround results or programs that make a bigger difference.

Why is this challenging?

We know from research that many women struggle with self promotion, self advocating and expressing their expertise.  We have a tendency to downplay our part in the wins and achievements of our departments. While we willingly and enthusiastically write nominations for our junior staff members, we hesitate to do the same for ourselves. And worse? We're far more likely to 'not want to waste anyone's time' (including our own) not necessarily seeing the big picture about the value and benefit of nominating in the longer term for both ourselves and the business.

In a nutshell, nominating yourself for an Award will require you to knock a bunch of stereotypical and socialised tendencies on the head and to:

  • back yourself,
  • sell yourself, and
  • articulate your 'special sauce' in a very public way.

Why is this important?

Because organisations with more women in the leadership team not only perform better overall with larger returns to shareholders, increases in performance, productivity and better risk management – but the men and women who work there are frequently better off as well.

"research with the Peterson Institute for International Economics recently found that companies with at least 30% female leaders can add as much as 6% to their net margins." Mark Weinberger,
Global Chairman & CEO, EY

 
But why Awards?

One of the issues that gets in the way for women applying for senior leadership opportunities is not being seen. Not being seen as ideal (traditional) leadership potential, as fitting in, or as having what it takes to make tough decisions. Women are also frequently in enablement type functions that are not perceived as essential to performance, nor as visible.

Forward thinking, progressive organisations are beginning to acknowledge this hidden talent issue and to bring in programs that help uncover and tap into non traditional talent as we saw in MckInsey's January 2017 article Finding Hidden Leaders.

Winning an Award (or even making the finalists list) helps your leadership potential to be seen - to get you (the difference you make, the problems you solve and the value you add) out of the wings and onto centre stage.

And even if your bid is unsuccessful, the process of nominating helps you;

  • build a great support network around your leadership aspirations,
  • to craft winning arguments that will boost your credibility and confidence, 
  • highlight the amazing results you deliver that are sometimes taken for granted.

Most importantly the process of gathering the evidence of wins and achievements can be re-purposed easily and skilfully for your next tilt at the C-suite.

'How to' advice for women from four experts on writing winning Award nominations

So to help you with your next nomination I've asked four experts to come to contribute with their #1 advice for women nominating for Awards.  Thanks to Janita, Kate, Kimberly and Michelle!

Janita Friend

Meet Janita a Corporate Communications Strategist and Consultant.  As you might imagine, Janita has a bunch of experience writing Awards nominations and has generously offered 5 tips for women writing award nominations

  • Spend quality time reading and considering all the questions so you can give the best and most relevant answers.   Give yourself plenty of time and be prepared to do several drafts to get it right – understanding what the award criteria are is a crucial element of the process.

  • Speak to a person close to you – a partner or colleague/manager -  about your career highlights.  If possible, ask someone to interview you to draw out some of your finest moments.

  • Don’t be shy – this is about promoting yourself, your talents and results – be bold and aim to hit them with the dazzling highlights up front.  Make it simple for the judges to read through and identify you as a contender.

  • Ensure you use the criteria outlined and use key words that relate (sound familiar?)

  • A good story gains attention.   Include any interesting parts of your personal life journey which may show adversity you may have had to overcome to gain your results.  For example, being a single mother, a widow, dyslexic etc. – although you may not wish to draw attention tothese things, they will provide a richer story which may give you the edge over other candidates.
    Want to know more about Janita?  Check out her website

Kimberly Palmer

Kimberly is a Marketing Expert with her own company, Brazen Productions. Kimberly has helped craft winning award entries for clients for Telstra Business Womens Award and also used to run the Business Award programs for the City of Port Phillip and City of Moonee Valley.

She’s even been successful with achieving funding via winning a Churchill Fellowship for herself so is well qualified in understanding the challenges you might experience when it comes to self promotion.

 Her #1 Tip is Quantify your achievements - with personality

Your first aim to grab the judges attention. Most judges are usually volunteers and reviewing award entries in very limited time. So don't take too long to get to the point!

Open your entry with what's special about your achievements - relative to your own journey but also relative to others in the space. Then remember, don't make it too dry, or too full of jargon. You want to get across your enthusiasm, personality - and even why you'd make a good ambassador for the awards program should you be a winner.”

She also says - spend time getting it right. Don't leave it till deadline day - or worse, after deadline day! Your first draft will be just that. If you're being judged on this work, give it the time and effort it deserves.

And finally - try to have more than one person proof read it - there's nothing worse than poor spelling or grammar, it's distracting from what you're really trying to say.

Connect with Kimberly via LinkedIn or her website

Kate, Janita, Kimberly & Michelle

Kate, Janita, Kimberly & Michelle

Kate Duckworth

Kate is Marketing Manager at Buzinga; An Award Winning Mobile Design and Development Company.  Her claim to fame when it comes to writing award nominations is that she has constructed and written multiple award winning nominations for Buzinga to be acknowledged for excellence in company culture, product design and innovation, resulting in a streak of 7 wins out of 8 nominations (!) including:

  • Top 100 Australian Fast Starter, BRW 2015

  • 9th Coolest Tech Company, Job Advisor, 2016

  • 4th Coolest Tech Company - Job Advisor 2015

  • Top 100 Cool Companies, Anthill 2016. 

  • Coolest Mobile Business, Anthill 2015

  • Best Australian Startup, Top 5, Startup Smart 2015.

  • Best App Design, 2 Apps, App Design Awards 2016. (Buzinga, 2016)

Kate's #1 Tip: Write with creative flair and engaging copy... Like you would a website or a blog post. 

 "People have an enormous emotional or impulse appeal that transcends logic and basic needs" - Dan S. Kennedy. 

Individuals who are vetoing your award applications are humans, with a job that you can imagine is a lengthy, repetitive and snoozy.

In my applications, I write with the intent to ignite emotion, whether it's a laugh, a smile or an engaging story they can relate to. 

And please, don't be vanilla... Leave that to the profit and loss section!  (Go Kate!)

 Connect with Kate on LinkedIn

Michelle Devanny

Michelle is the Communications Manager at Kiandra IT and has been involved and/or written many award nominations for both individuals and companies.

Michelle's #1 tip?  Answer the question using evidence (where appropriate …. which is most of the time!) and allocate the appropriate amount of time and effort to your submission.

Awards are an incredible marketing tool which can build reputation, validate capability and make you (and those that work for you) feel nice and fuzzy but participating in reputable awards programs usually involve a fairly in-depth process. Do not underestimate the time taken to articulate who you are, and what you’re about. If you’ve decided to enter an awards program do yourself/your business justice, and be prepared to do it properly. You don’t want to be skipping corners, rushing to meet the 5pm Friday deadline when everyone else is scrambling to get their submission in, which crashes the awards site!

Most importantly make sure you actually answer the question. The judges read a lot of submissions and they can tell the difference between marketing guff and substance, so where possible you should back up your answers with evidence. Independent evidence is invaluable — whether it is press mentions, customer testimonials or social media mentions — use real examples wherever possible.

Why not connect with Michelle on LinkedIn?

My advice?  After running, hosting or being part of various award processes over 8+ years I notice that sometimes nominees choose the hard row to hoe, doing it all for themselves. Instead, why not get some help from the experts?  Ask the comms, PR or marketing department in your organisation to get involved and help you with crafting your nomination.

It's a little known secret, but some organisations even have entire teams dedicated to helping other staff become recognised through external Awards processes. They may simply not know that you have an Award you are eligible to nominate for. So get out of your own way and get expert advice from someone in your business with a third person expert perspective. After all, it's not just great for you if you win, it's a business win as well!

Finally -

You've got to be in it to win it and sometimes more than once.  I heard on the grapevine that one of the 2016 Telstra Business Women of the Year Award winners announced she had nominated each year for seven years and finally won after seven attempts. And if that story doesn't give you the kcik up the butt you need to nominate yourself for an Award, then I don't know what will. 

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

#success #career #visibility #standout #leadership#executivewomen #careerfutureproofing


Keen to read more? ... 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Visibility, Age and Self Promotion

The last few weeks have seen us exploring the issue of being visible (or not) in the leadership talent pipeline.


However, we can’t talk about the issues of visibility in the leadership talent pipeline for women without addressing age - and for women, and the gender bias around aging couldn’t be more obvious.  

Young women are dismissed as "likeable" and "pretty" but lacking in credibility. (The most memorable line from my own career 20 years ago was "lets give the little woman something to keep her busy".  But that's a story for another day.)

While the older a woman becomes, the more “invisible” she becomes, with some arguing the mysterious magical tipping point of 50 years old - despite this being an ideal age to be leading.

The opposite is true for men who are perceived to become more credible and more influential with age. (Hmmmm, just like fine wine or an aged cheddar).
 
In addition to the bias that surrounds aging for women there is the issue of socialisation, where more mature women have not been socialised to self promote. In research released in 2014 revealed that senior women executives still struggle with some of the career advancement challenges that women in middle management do. The research was the result of a survey of 326 senior women leaders across North America and the challenges that arose were:

  • self-promotion,
  • advocating for themselves, and
  • expressing their expertise

Let's face it, we're far more likely to suggest that a junior colleague should nominate for an Award than we are to nominate ourselves. 

stand out

Women have been socialised to believe that doing the job well, rigorously and thoroughly is a fast track to success and that our results and good work should speak for themselves. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we got the wrong memo.

Additionally, younger generations have grown up in the era of the rise of the celebrity and self promotion. While more mature generations may not be as comfortable with self promotion, younger generations are executing self promotion strategies, advocating on their own behalf and claiming expert status far more skillfully and effortlessly - whether we like it or not.

Standing out for the right reasons
As women with leadership aspirations, in addition to doing the "good work", we also need to stand out, become more visible and create impact.  

If you're beginning to feel less than worthy because of your age, don't worry. Recent research demonstrating that in fact women over the age of 55 are better suited to lead organisational change than many of their male counterparts. According to Jessica Leitch, people and organization consultant at PwC -

“Historically women over the age of 55 would not have been an area of focus (for HR managers), but as the research suggests, this pool of talent might hold the key to transformation and in some cases, business survival ... "

So how do we become more visible?
How do we create impact? How can we stand out? We need to learn -

  • to self promote,
  • be able to articulate our achievement’s back up into the business with key messages about value, and
  • we need to advocate on our own behalf, not just on behalf of our team or junior staff as is frequently our want.

And what else?  
Nuance is key - because when we hit up against stereotype and biases we run the risk of being criticised rather than elevated.  So ensure that your visibility strategy includes multiple and varied ways of articulating the same three elements - the problems you solve, the difference you make and the value you add to the business.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #visibility #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Visibility, vulnerability & vitriol - when visibility makes you vulnerable

The flipside of lack of visibility is too much scrutiny. There is definitely a downside for those who do become more visible, in that it makes you vulnerable. The higher up the food chain you go, the more visible you become, in particular if you are unique or can identify as a minority in some way. In an ideal world that truly valued diversity, that difference would be seen as a unique value proposition. Obviously we're not quite there yet.
 
The more visible you are, the more vulnerable you become. And because we still have so few women in leadership, it is seen as unfeminine in some way at best and as taking jobs away from the blokes at worse, which opens us up to criticism. Unfortunately these criticisms are rarely about our leadership, what we say or even our results, but frequently about:        

FlamingoStandOut
  • Our appearance, hair and wardrobe choices
  • Our speech mannerisms
  • Whether or not we are nice enough
  • The way we manage our family obligations
  • How we articulate ambition
  • How we express our femininity  

And because female leaders are so few and far between, if a woman leader makes a mistake it’s as though she makes it on behalf of all women every where – which I'm sure is a deterrent for many and would definitely increase the sense of vulnerability.
 
In Australia we have a long history of personal attacks against senior female political figures. In recent years we saw the extremely personal nature of the attacks against former Prime Minister Julia Gillard by men and women alike – which prompted her world famous misogyny speech as a response.
 
Currently we are witnessing the on-going attacks of a personal nature against Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs. Despite your political view point, the extremely personal nature and the vitriol directed at her is enough to put to put anyone off becoming more visible including younger ambitious women who may have been considering a life in public office.  

Additionally, unless you've been off the grid or hiding under a rock, it's been very difficult to ignore the overtly personal criticisms and attacks of Hilary Clinton during the USA presidential campaign. In fact, I'm still feeling somewhat traumatised by the seemingly sanctioned overt acts of aggression.
 
This is not limited to female politicians or office bearers, but anyone in the public eye. You may remember the producers of Q&A on ABC in February 2016 discussing some of the challenges they experienced in getting women to appear on the show which included the adversarial nature of the show, plus the social media bullying and trolling that was highly likely to eventuate as a result of being visible on the show.
 
While most of my clients don’t work in public office, several do work in the rarefied air of C-suite executive offices or in masculine working environments where women are still few and far between. They are extremely visible and therefore somewhat vulnerable, unless adequately prepared.

And there in lies the rub.  How do you adequately prepare?

My clients tell stories of being accused, by men and women, of being aggressive, unfeminine and worse, when they are trying to impose tighter safety measures, transformational change programs or tighten risk management frameworks. I hear stories of Boardroom bullying behaviours that make me cringe where once again, the person, not the policy is under attack.

However, I also hear stories of both men and women calling out these tactics for what they are.  These issues shouldn't be swept under the table and ignored. Bullying tactics and personal verbal attacks need to be identified, called out and stopped. Easier said than done, but perhaps right now is the time to do something about it.

Remember the rule of thumb - critique the plan, the play or the policy, not the person, and certainly not for anything unrelated to the issue at hand.


There is an upside to recent political events - and that's the increase in awareness by men and women everywhere who have been horrified to see female leaders bullied so intensely and very differently from male leaders. Men have been equally as horrified as women.

My hope is that there is a newer understanding of some of the challenges that women experience in their quest to lead.  I am also inspired to think that a newer breed of courageous female leaders, and male champions of change will endorse and champion leadership talent, no matter how it expresses itself.

Gender equality will be achieved when we have as many incompetent women in senior leadership roles as we do incompetent men.
— Jane Caro


Vive la révolution!
#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #careerfutureproofing #visibility

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PS: I help women future proof their future leadership goals and ambitions! Call or email if you want to get started on yours.

 

 

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Three Networking Hacks that Help Future Proof your Career

Confession time! I hate networking events. As an ambivert (mixed extrovert/introvert) there are times when I imagine I'd rather have root canal surgery than go to a networking function! (And no I never ever exaggerate).Yet when I get there I'm usually absolutely fine and sometimes the life of the party.

While the experts are out as to whether or not networking helps women in the same ways at it helps men, I personally can attest to the value of it on my career with two amazing opportunities presented to me by way of introductions at functions:

  • A chance conversation at an industry conference dinner helped me transition interstate
  • I landed another Step Up type role in another organisation because of an introduction at an industry Awards lunch

Why did it help me? In one I was a relative unknown in industry and the conference introduced me to the right people at the right time. At the second opportunity it was a mix of right people, right time and right key messages. If I hadn't been there asking smart questions I would never have known about either opportunity or had an opportunity to put my best foot forward in a casual business environment. 

This last month in our Young Executive Mastermind Groups, we used the Visibility Strategy quadrant model and created a series of practical ideas to help attendees future proof their future career prospects. Remember, the top right hand quadrant of the model is where you want to be. You want STAR Status (obviously) and in order to do that you need to act strategically but also ensure you are visible with the following criteria - right audience, right key messages, right places and right time.

The problem with being a collaborative problem solver for women and career

When you are a collaborative problem solver, you run the risk of being head down, bottom up,  out of line of sight in the leadership talent pipeline. This is a far bigger problem for women than men because we've been socialised to believe that in order to get ahead we need to do great work and the work itself will speak to our success. Unfortunately this isn't true for most, so when we've got a personal brand as The FIXER it's as though we have the cloak of invisibility on.

Not only does the business not want to disturb us while we go about solving those enormous business problems (governance, compliance, transformational change or reputational risk) but while we're doing that, someone who is more ambitious and more visible will simply overtake and or bypass us.

It's therefore really important that you start strategically building out a plan that includes networking - with the right audience, in the right places, at the right time and ..... oh yes, BYO right key messages - even while you solve those big problems within the business.

Three tactics to Help you gain visibility while strategically tackling your networking

Yes, you do need to network. I know, you hate it, but networking does help. And with a plan, you can make this far more fun and even turn it into a bit of a challenge. So here are just three tips that you can do to shift from The FIXER Mode (strategic but low visibility) to The STAR (high visibility PLUS strategic) within a few months.

1. Strategically plan the events that you go to at the beginning of the year - and be sure to include mixed gender networking events

The most successful men and women I know plan their event schedule 12 months in advance. Really? Yes really. It's smart, it's less reactive, you're committed and it's easy.  Most of us would prefer being at the dentist than attending a networking event.  So by creating a plan of one strategic event per month, you are playing 'above the line'. Below the line = excuses, blame, resentment, avoidance and not accepting responsibility for your own part in the process . Above the line = accepting responsibility and creating your own career success and reality - Step Up, Speak Out and Take Charge.

  • Most peak bodies and industry groups get their calendars done in the latter part of the year. If you work for a larger corporate your own organisation will also have events where it is wise to be seen at. Review the events schedule and make a plan in advance and book them in well ahead of time.  Of course ad-hoc events will come up, and you will always have a choice.
  • If you do work for a large corporate it can be tempting to only network within your organisation. While loyalty is admired by some, the smarter play might be to also network externally. Once again, get out of your comfort zone and put external networking in your plan as well.
  • Remember the criteria of "right audience"? You need to be seen and heard by the decision makers and leaders of your industry and/or business.  Rule of thumb: Until such time as we have more than 19% women in senior leadership roles, mixed gender networking events are going to be better for career progression and being noticed by right people in positions of power. Here's a great article on Forbes about why women's events fail and a really interesting Harvard Business Review article on Assessing the Value of your Network. However, in the initial stages of your career women's only events can be great for confidence building and meeting like-minded professionals - so why not create a program that is a blend?

 

2. Prepare so you can ask a smart question from the back of the room during Q&A

Do your homework and prep it in advance. This is part of the Step Up, Speak Out, Take Charge process - you need be prepared to step up, to develop a voice that can be heard and is valued - so do prepare and rehearse ,as silly as that may sound.

One of the smartest women I know does this on a regular basis. She has a PhD, yet is naturally a little shy - but always sounds extremely confident when asking questions from the floor. I puzzled over this for months, then asked her the secret, and was surprised how easy it was. Preparation. She always prepares a question or two at home. The preparation not only helps her to sound confident and as though she knows what she is talking about (by the way, she really does), but it also gets her thinking analytically about the content of what might be in the presentation well in advance, which helps her with more ad-hoc responses as well.

3. Send a thank you note afterwards

This is god-dammed brilliant and I learned from the best of the best when I was going to a lot of USA conferences and having US delegates returning the visit in Australia. In the USA when you meet someone at a business networking event you nearly always get an email follow up to thank you the next day.

WOW! The first time it happened I was blown away because this is extremely uncommon in Australia. But it really made such a difference to my perception of the people I met, thatI've definitely gone out of my way to create time for people who followed up on networking post the event.

In fact, this is so uncommon in Australia that I recommend ensuring that you keep a light touch - so you don't come across too creepy. Say thanks, acknowledge something about the other person and suggest that if they need anything they can drop you a line. Then a few weeks later follow up with a phone or coffee meeting request.  Avoid too intense, the too soon sales pitch or coming across as needy. Instead focus on how you can help them, mutual interests in the future and keeping conversations open down the track.

Go forth and network with confidence and strategy

So there you go - three great tips for attending networking seminars and events that will ensure you stay visible and strategic. It's definitely all in the preparation. You don't want to be known as The PLAYER -  that person who turns up to the opening of an envelope, but no-one knows what you stand for. Or you run the risk of beingbypassed if you stay as The FIXER. 

You do however, want to be known as a serious contender for future opportunities. These three tactics ensure you are visible, your thought leadership is beginning to show, your interest in career development and advancement is far more obvious, and your willingness to do something about it yourself, is crystal clear.

Step up, speak out and take charge!  It's that easy.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #careerfutureproofing #visibility

If you have any ideas I'd love to hear!  Comment below or pop me an email!

And if you liked this, please share. Let's create a networking of ambition revolutionaries the globe over.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Stereotypes, advertising and being prepared to stand out

I like to describe myself as a proudly visible member of the most invisible segments of our society - older women.
— Cindy Gallop

As I begin to unpack the issue of visibility for women in leadership, I can't help but reflect on the advertising industry. Cindy Gallop, the British self described 'visible older woman' advertising industry executive quoted above, is an extremely vocal advocate of change. Change, not just about the women and men who work in the sector, but because of the key messages this powerful industry perpetuates in society. In a nutshell, the advertising industry sells and perpetuates stereotypes - what it is to be a bloke, a woman, to be young, old, successful - and these stereotypes become then norm.

Relevantly, a recent global study of the advertising industry found that -

"just 2% of adverts featured women who could be described as “intelligent”; just 3% were shown in leadership roles."

The advertising industry is just the tip of the iceberg with the media and entertainment industries, all such powerful influencers of our socialisation, compounding the problem and promoting and reinforcing a lack of 'visibility' for women as leaders.

 
diversity

Real life statistics
Real life statistics aren't much better off with the recent McKinsey and Lean In global research highlighting that women only make up 19% of those in the C-suite despite intense focus and huge effort in the last 50 years.

The survey also found that the roadblocks, brick walls and glass ceilings that more mature women have battled for years are still having impact on younger generations - with 23% of millennial women believe their gender has prevented them from getting ahead at work (compared to 26% non-millennials), and with a more than 14% ambition gap between millennial women vs men (compared to 17% non-millennial).

You cannot be who you cannot see.
— Cindy Gallop

It's not that women aren't getting there because we're/they're not good enough. In fact, there is now overwhelming evidence to the contrary including analysis of performance during the GFC demonstrating that organisations with mixed gender Boards performed better at that time.  It's just that perception and biases get in the way of us seeing (women included) that women also make great leaders.

Bias is bad for business
Bias is a huge issue for those who aspire to leadership roles but don't fit the stereotype. It's also a huge issue for those industries and organisations who have yet to embrace the benefits that diversity brings in order to meet 2020 business challenges and remain competitive.

Relevance and sustainability in a modern and ever changing business environment are some of the greatest obstacles in any industry. If organisations want to remain relevant and be around in the future, they need to ensure that women are seen as leadership potential. Put simply, invisibility and the biases that surround it, are a problem for both the individual and the organisation. And to quote Jonathan Segal;

"Bias is bad for business."

When ambitious women don't fit in easily (don't always get the jokes, don't look the same, don't play golf, don't know the unwritten ground rules, other women think we're bossy and men may feel threatened) we may accidentally find ourselves becoming invisible in the leadership talent pipeline despite targets, quotas and best intentions.

Taking a stand makes companies stand out
Recently we've seen several brands come out and really embrace the benefits that diversity brings. Earlier in the year we saw Lynx parent company Unilever come out publicly and vow to drop advertising that promotes stereotypes.  Yes, this makes them far more visible in a crowded market place. Plus the lamb diversity campaign by the MLA in Australia is a great example of turning diversity into a competitive advantage.  

In a modern world, future focused successful organisations are also embracing diversity as a competitive advantage in terms of attracting talent, creating new markets and mechanisms to innovate.  

Why not be a stand out individual?

For the individual, this represents an opportunity to really stand out as well. This is an opportunity for you as an individual to let go of the old ways of getting ahead - fitting in, playing the game and playing by the rules. They aren't going to work much longer anyway.

Instead embrace the new rules of the portfolio career, personal branding and self promotion. Leadership opportunities will go to those who are prepared to Step Up, Speak Out and Take Charge. And the best bit? This then becomes a competitive advantage for those who don't fit the mold.

Some rules of thumb to remember in your quest for leadership:

  • Back yourself and be prepared to have a crack at it - women have a tendency to underestimate our future performance as compared to men. Don't let that tendency stand in your way.
  • You shouldn't have to fit in in order to lead - in fact it might be more helpful if you stand out
  • Invisible might feel comfortable, but visibility is the new black
  • Results don't speak for themselves, you need to speak to them
  • Your future leadership personal brand is your key differentiator
  • It's your job to sell brand you, not someone else's

While the advertising industry itself still has a long way to go, there are great lessons emerging for us all. And as Oscar Wild once wrote;

"Life imitates art far more than art imitates life."
 

Your thoughts?

  • Does your organisation promote the same old tired stereotype? Or are you seeing fresh ideas and different thinking championed and celebrated throughout the business? 
  • If you are seeing fresh ideas and different thinking championed - what are the results to date?
  • What mechanisms does your organisation have in place in order to encourage different thinking, diverse ideas and innovation?  
  • Have you tried to stand out and did it work (yet)?
Why not BYO chair? The view from the top is great.

Why not BYO chair? The view from the top is great.

Let me know.  I love receiving emails from you with your own ideas and insights.
And by the way - still don't have a seat at the table?  Why don't you BYO chair?  The view is great from where I'm sitting!

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

 

And if you liked this article - please share.

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Why executive women need to create a visibility strategy

Gone are the days when you turned up to work and put in the time, and in return got

  • a pat on the back,
  • a promotion, and
  • a payrise ... then waited a while longer while you marched towards the sweet release of retirement.

It simply doesn't work that way anymore - but neither do I think we really want it to. We all love stories such as the 90+ year old nurse still working and flourishing. I used to work with a 92 yo consultant who came into the office every day and advised on policy and protocol - an area where he had considerably more experience and expertise than the rest of the team put together.

Visibiility

However with the rise of the portfolio career, and where brand development is both for companies and for people, plus an era of self promotion you need to develop a few more powerful tactics.

Visibility

Visibility is a cool tool.  Staying ahead of the visibility curve is great for both you and for your business.  And here's the kicker - even if you don't do it particularly well, it's still better than not doing it at all.

Well executed visibility - rising to the top

Averagely executed visibility - staying afloat

No visibility - sinking

Strategy

I'm taking this one step further and saying we need to be strategic about this.  It's not enough to simply spread yourself thin at networking functions and golf games any more. You need to focus on what's most effective - separate busy from strategic and focus on the areas that are going to give you the most bang for you buck and deliver on the results you need. 

And in this day and age whether you are a business owner, a professional in a firm, or maybe on a fast track to corporate C-suite ascendancy - any strategy, even the wrong strategy, is better than no strategy.

Four rules of thumb to remember:

  • Work is not school - you won't get the corner office by being good or quiet
  • No-one promotes the stressed out, worn out and flustered looking executive with their head down up the back of the office
  • Results no longer speak for themselves
  • Stop being busy, start being strategic

Visibility and Strategy Unpacked

When you cross reference busy v's strategic and low visibility v's high visibility - you begin to see the picture.

Busy & low visibility (going nowhere) - head down, tail up, doing the job because it's the right thing to do. Historically this may have worked, but not any more. You will be bypassed and overlooked despite working hard and best intentions on your part.

High visibility but busy (going crazy) - leaves you worn out, overworked and potentially resentful as you feel like you've been hung out to dry for things that weren't even in your remit. When you're worn out and overworked, you are far more likely to lean out, pick up your bat and ball and go play elsewhere. And remember how after just two years in a business women lose their ambition more than men and are more likely to lean out? I wonder if this contributes.

Low visibility but strategic (going somewhere slowly) - you're being strategic about the approaches you make, very considered and highly professional. Quite possibly you're feeling a little frustrated as you see other younger players head on past you far more easily or you're simply bypassed by those who do know how to sell themselves.  Maybe you've turned down opportunities to tackle different projects, to speak, to write whitepapers or be quoted in the press until you feel better prepared or more certain. You tell yourself that it's better to have have more substance than flash, but can't help but wondering if you are doing something wrong. Sound familiar? 

High visibility AND strategic (the sweet spot) - where visibility meets strategy and sees you leading a team, tackling big substantive work or creating enterprise/industry wide change far sooner than you might possibly imagine. You'll have fine tuned a nuanced approach to talking up the problems you solve, the difference you in particular make and the value you are adding.

What needs to be in your visibility strategy?

Here are 13 ideas to get you started. The list consists of basically anything that aligns with your goals, dreams or ambitions that is going to see you shine or draw attention to you and your contribution. For women, we walk a perilous knife edge between flying our own flag and flagrant self promotion - so keep the need for nuance in mind as you go.  Nuance, not to be confused with retiring. Nuance - subtle, effective and (in this case) really smart 'n savvy.

1. Define what you want - work out what it is you want to be when you grow up. Don't panic!  In a world where careers are morphing and changing in more cyclical and circular ways, vertical career strategy is a thing of the past, so maybe work out what's next for right now and start there.

2. Accept responsibility - let go of notions of my work should speak for itself or others should be able to see the good work I do because it simply doesn't happen any more. Stakeholders in your career success are busy themselves. As Avril Henry said at the Women World Changers event in Sydney in October -

"The only person who is as interested in your career as you - is you! So do something about it."

3. Always be linking back to the strategy - your own, or your organisation's. Anything and everything you do should connect back to a why that underpins the reason you are at work. If you don't know what the strategic objectives are for your department or your organisation, or you haven't worked them out for your own personal brand, then go do that now. Turning up to simply pass the time and get a paycheck is not for those who have leadership goals or ambitions.

4. Put your hand up before you feel ready - don't wait to be asked or until you feel prepared to do anything on this list. Ever had the experience of trying something new only for it to become your new normal? Give it a crack and you might find

5. Don't hide your light under a bushel - let go of shy and demure, it doesn't serve anyone. If Susan Cain's Quiet taught us anything it was that introverts can indeed lead - and indeed, lead better than many in times of trouble such as the GFC.  So stand up straight, walk with purpose and confidence, develop a voice that can be heard in meetings, dress in colours that draw attention (well ...... maybe not purple but who am I to judge!), stop apologising and own your own stuff.

6. Develop your leadership personal brand on social media - once again help people to help you - if people can work out who you are and what you stand for by what you like, share, comment or write about on social it makes it far easier to help you.

7. Regularly report on what you do - make sure that you get a regular spot in your department/division meeting to report on the progress of the project or BHAG. Don't hide it. Don't wait to be asked. Volunteer.

8. Write up a case study - the beauty of volunteering for special projects is that it gives you material to reflect on and possibly teach others. Write up a case study and share in your team meeting, AND with your manager, AND on the intranet, AND on LinkedIn (with your disclaimer about views expressed etc), AND on Twitter, PLUS with other departments who are keen to motivate younger team members or who might be tackling the same issue themselves - or share even with your peak body. Find ways to spread the word.

9. Be proactive with your peak body or professional association. Again - don't wait to be asked. Volunteer to help. Many associations run on the smell of an oily rag and are keen to have proactive contributors or volunteers on special projects to help them maintain their momentum. In my time as CEO of SOCAP our volunteer committees rewrote the industry Standard for Australia and New Zealand and created an industry wide Core Competency Framework that became the go to reference point for anyone in industry. Several of the committee members then went onto consult on the International Standard. Make sure you get credited for the work in some way whether that's a listing on the website, in the magazine, the report, or even a more active role at the industry conference. And then share the results of your work back into your business.

10. Learn to pitch or speak in public - yes I know that most people that many people rate public speaking as their #1 fear (above dying in fact). But as part of a modern and successful career you need to learn to speak and also pitch ideas well. The flip side of leadership is followership - and if you can pitch or speak, creating a followership is far easier.  If you can't speak already, then sign up for public speaking training or send yourself to Toastmasters, but do get started. Make it a priority.

11. Be seen with the movers and shakers - make time to mix, mingle and network with senior level decision makers inside and outside of your business. You need to go to where they are if they don't normally come to you. Find ways to make sure you are included in discussions both formal and informal that happen about the future of industry or your business. Don't be shy. Volunteer an opinion whether you think you know the right answer or not. You need to be heard in addition to being visible.

12. Consistency trumps frequency - Establish a maintenance schedule for your leadership personal brand - it's not enough to speak on a panel once and then tick it off your list as having been there done that. It's not enough to write an article once and think that one article will do the job. You need to be flying your own flag over and over again. Repeatedly. It takes time. Your visibility strategy needs to be ritualised and feature as a regular appointment in your calendar. But beware, you don't want to become the the squeaky wheel whereby you saturate the airwaves with brand you. Once again, be strategic. Find the Goldilocks sweet spot - that balance between too little and too much - and stick with it until you get a chance to reassess.

13. Reassess every 6 months - start at the top and work your way down to make sure that your plan doesn't need tweaking and refining.

So there you have it. 13 tactics to try to help you build a Visibility Strategy. If this looks like too much simply start at the beginning and work your way through over the period of a year.  Or you could sign up for Executive Coaching where brand you is dealt with front and centre. 

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

Comments? I'm sure there are other things that you might be doing that may help others, so email me (or comment below) and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

If you enjoyed this please spread the word! Let's inspire women everywhere to keep their eye on the prize

 

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and art of amping smart and savvy
  • I mentor busy professional women to ensure they remain smart, strategic and focused on the bigger game.
  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but are struggling to do so.
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months