Leading Women

Leadership lessons from a hip hop dance competition? You betcha'!

Leadership lessons for #leadingwomen from a hip hop dance competition? You betcha’!

Don’t imitate the men. 

Toni Basil, best known for her multi-million-selling worldwide 1982 hit "Mickey", which reached No 1 in several countries, reminds female hip hop artists to not forget their femininity. 

  • It doesn’t take away your strength
  • You can be as strong as you want
  • I’m talking about women accepting the femininity within them and adding it to their “dance”

Love this as a lesson in leadership for women! 

Gone are the old days of “big hair, big shoulder pads, go hard or go home”.  

And to women reading this - let’s lead like a leading woman not like a man. 

“I haven’t found myself constrained by the male models of leadership because I haven’t found them particularly inspiring, so why copy something you didn’t like?” ~ Ann Sherry AO, Carnival Australia

And Toni Basil?  At 75yo you truly inspire and not just because of your amazing dance moves. For the groovers reading this post? Check out the video - this will make your day.

#business #branding #leadership

(Video - Youtube HHI's "Real Talk”)


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

Can nice girls get the corner office? Reflections on likability and leadership

Leading while being female can be joyous, exciting, challenging, hard work and plain awful all in one.  Add into the mix that female leaders are still thin on the ground so those who do lead are highly visible and under intense scrutiny - ergo highly vulnerable. One woman appears to mis-step and all women are criticised everywhere. What a burden!

No-one said it would be easy, and they were right.

However for many, once you get past a few of the hurdles, there is no other choice. Leadership is the only viable option.

How we lead is another story.  Historically women have embraced, and been rewarded for, more masculine traits in order to fit in and be successful. You know - big hair, big shoulder pads, go hard or go home - assertive, competitive and/or combative. This not only doesn’t work any more, but society and business miss out on the various benefits that diversity of leadership styles bring.

In the early 2000s Lois Frankel wrote a book called Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office. It was a page turner. I read it cover to cover and bought the CD set to listen to in my car. 

The inference is that you can’t lead and be liked at the same time.

But is that true anymore?

Last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton in conversation with our former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, at the Melbourne Convention Centre, provided some interesting reflections on the topic of likability - and let's face it, if there were ever two women who have been harrangued for not being liked it's these two.

- The more successful a man is, the more likable he becomes

- The more successful a woman is, the less people like her

- When women advocate for ourselves, we lose in likability

- Instead, women run the risk of labelled by men and women alike as whiney, witchy and worthless when they challenge the status quo and dabble in anything other than women's arenas - all labels low on the likability scale.

And that's a double standard if I ever heard of one.

To paraphrase Lieutenant General David Lindsay Morrison AO - "the double standards we walk past are the double standards we accept". 

(Note: both women received standing ovations in Melbourne, so must have been doing something right.)

If recent history of female leadership is to be believed, then leading and being liked is still challenging, but not impossible. So don't give up

One thing needs to change. And that's the personal criticisms of leading women that we all engage in. When women challenge the status quo, their differentness and femaleness is critiqued, rather than their performance in the role.

Let's stop with the witchy, whiney and worthless labels. Stick to the facts instead.

And maybe replace with those labels with wise, world class and wonderful!

Thanks to two wise, world class and wonderful women who inspired this blog - Hillary Rodham Clinton and Julia Gillard.

Special mention also goes to Annabel Crabb for her superb emcee performance. It was an inspiring evening and I trust that talented younger women are now seeing a leadership pathway as a viable option to aspire to, rather than something to be avoided.

Want to explore this more? Three Actions

1. Live/work in Melbourne?  Join us for an event on 14 June - Nice Girls Can Get the Corner Office with Mary Anne Waldren and myself as we explore the issue of likability as an asset in your career toolkit.  Mary Anne has made a career out of likability and getting on with people. I'll be asking her how. Register now. Places limited.

2. Have your say on likability and leading while female on LinkedIn - here's my recent post with a snippet from Hillary's opening speech. Is it possible to be a likable leader?



3. Want to shift your personal brand from feeling worthless to world class?   

Why not book in a 30 min one on one  phone call to learn more. 1st in best dressed rules apply.

Take charge of the narrative before it takes charge of you!



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

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have - even on casual Friday!

Because internal promotions rarely happen as the result of an interview - despite what you imagine.

In a world that is increasingly focused on appearance and personal branding, your image counts just as much as your impact.

Trivial maybe, but true for many.

Women and men.

Dressing professionally, and well, indicates that you take yourself and your career seriously.

It demonstrates respect for each of your work environment, your craft or expertise, the people you work with and yourself.

It shows that you are professional and that you value your own contribution.


Does this mean wearing exclusive labels to work every day?


But it does mean elevating your standards so your future aspirations and your current self more easily intersect.

#elevateyourpitch #elevateyourstandards #elevateyourbrand #leadingwomen #executivebranding

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

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

“Am I really good enough?”
“I’m worried everyone will find out that I’m making it up as I go along”
“I’m worn out & not sure I’ve got it anymore!”

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it?

But these are real comments, from real people ….. as they hit up against resistance, self doubt & fear, over & over again in their career journey.

When you’ve been rejected, not listened to or not included in the A-team for most of your career despite equal if not better performances ….. it can be tough to stay resilient & keep going!

Imposter syndrome is an insidious beast.

Which makes the work I do, so much more important.

I don’t always have all the answers either.

I too have doubts and fears just like everyone else.

Feeling like a fraud can sneak up on you when you least expect it.

But I keep on keeping on because I know I’m fighting the good fight.

And love being part of making a difference.

So, next time you say to yourself “I’m not good enough” realise that every one feels this way

No-one said leadership would be comfortable.

But it’s those with true grit who will keep on going

And for the thousands who do keep going in the face of self doubt? 


Get comfortable with discomfort – it’s part and parcel of a difference worth making


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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

Why leading differently may just be your job

I turned down a really big promotion.

My bosses job with far more money & global recognition.

Even though I’d been working my butt off to be considered!

Yet had a crisis of confidence, and self selected out before even negotiating.

Not understanding the Career Limiting Move this was – until much later.

Hindsight is 20:20 vision.

This gave me HUGE insight,

Into the way that many see their capability to carve out a different path.

Today, I work with women angling for promotions, raises & the recognition they deserve.

Frequently, they self select out way too soon.

Just because your boss was super stressed or struggled,

Doesn’t mean the same reality for you.

Vive la difference_Amanda_Blesing_ Best_Career_advice_women.jpg

Just because your boss led a certain way,

Doesn’t make it the only way to lead.

We all have different ways of operating.

  • Some good
  • Some great
  • Some that truly make a difference.

So instead of saying no straight up.

Give yourself a fighting chance.

Don’t let others dictate your story.

“I haven’t found myself constrained by the male models of leadership because I haven’t found them particularly inspiring, so why copy something you didn’t like?” ~ Ann Sherry AO, Carnival Australia

If feminine leadership truly is the way of the 21st Century,

Your job is to lead differently anyway.

Vive la difference!


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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

When feminine leadership super powers become a poisoned chalice

You might remember Heather Sarson's research into collaboration and gender where she coined the phrase 'co-author penalty'. Heather is a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard, and looked at CVs from economists who went up for tenure between 1975 and 2014 in one of the top 30 PhD-granting universities in the United States. She found a bias toward men in instances where men and women co-authored research papers, and found that co-authoring with men had a sting in the tail for women.


Well I think I've found another issue - the 'collaborative problem solving poisoned chalice phenomenon'.

Where you're rewarded for tackling projects that other people don't prefer ..... not with a promotion, but with more projects that people don't prefer. 

Let me explain.

  • You know when you've asked, negotiated and lobbied for a raise or promotion so many times, even you're sick of hearing about it?  
  • Finally your manager indicates that he/she will be willing to consider your request but only after you've untangled an extremely complex problem. In fact, this problem is so complex it could either way - a career maker or breaker, depending on the outcome.
  • So you accept the challenge, focus intensively (because it's the right thing to do AND you do love a good collaborative problem solving challenge) - then put your nose to the grindstone while you tackle the project.
  • Finally - despite this problem being one that many others have tried to solve (and failed), you not only prevail but you excel.  Woot!

So you go to your boss with your glowing report card, only to be told that:

  • Someone else got the role you really wanted while you were so focused, and
  • Not only can the organisation no longer afford to give you that raise, but ... wait for it ....
  • They have another equally complex problem for you to tackle next!!!

Sound familiar?   Sadly I hear this story frequently as organisations struggle to understand, value and reward feminine leadership talent in their leadership talent pipeline.

The problems?

  • Collaborative, complex problem solving is a unique (and feminine) expertise - but is not (yet) seen as a trait of great leadership
  • When work becomes "feminised" it's devalued - in fact salaries drop
  • For you the individual - accepting that challenge without ensuring your leadership goals remain front and centre, visible to both yourself and your leadership team, is a risk
  • For the organisation -  because complex problem solving is not rewarded in leadership development it's possibly yet another reason why talented women are still leaning out after just a few years in an organisation.

What can you do?

  • Great results don't tell the whole story - great results might speak for themselves but they don't tell others that you have leadership goals or ambitions. Work is not school - you can't rely on results to get you ahead.
  • Always keep your eye on the prize - don't become so focused that you lose sight of your ultimate goal even for a moment.
  • Always be visible - maintain your visibility in the leadership talent pipeline despite being sidelined to do other work. Just likeClippy who used to pop up on your computer all the time, you want to do the same. Keep networking, keep catching up with other leaders in the business, keep pitching your great ideas up the business.
  • Always be leaderly - keep your future leadership personal brand front and centre in all interactions - try not to become branded as The Fixer.
  • Mitigate risk - is there a way of involving someone else such as HR in that conditional raise/promotion discussion?
  • Don't wear yourself out - so often we throw ourselves into our work so much that we wear ourselves out and lose momentum.  Find your tipping point and stay well below it for the duration.
  • Flick the switch from proving your worth, to knowing your worth - and head on in and start negotiating for a role and/or raise that you do prefer.
Femininity is the operating system of twenty-first century progress. Women—and the men who can think like them—are creating a future we’ll all want to inhabit
— John Gezerma

And if it has happened to you, do chat with me. I'd not only love to hear your story, but let's create a strategy to get you out of yet another drawn out, tangled black hole of a complex problem with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Vive la révolution!
#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

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


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

Feeling ambitious? Three inspiring TED talks to keep you focused

Whether you are entrepreneurial or have a corporate focus, strategically managing your time and harnessing energy is pretty important. So here at The Ambition Revolution we are constantly on the look out for resources, tools and inspiration to help you play a bigger and better game - far more easily.  And while I'm a great believer in the beauty of books as development tools, sometimes a powerful video is equally as good, if not better, as it cuts right to the heart of the issue in a short period of time.  

I've curated the following three TED talks - not just because they'll help you you tackle your current role better, but because they just might help you see yourself differently - reminding you of your "why", your "what" and your "how" in ways that expand possibility - and help you get ahead more easily.

1. Why Gender Equality is Good For Everyone - Men Included (Michael Kimmel15 mins

The first is a talk by Michael Kimmel from the May TEDWomen 2015 conference.  Michael is the author of Angry White Men and a scholar on the topics of men and masculinity.  His rather humorous take on the gender equality issue makes it well worth watching and might give you a few new insights as to why you should step up, speak out and take charge.

In a nutshell, it's a great reminder that gender equality is about both men and women, and any inequality is a societal issue (not simply a women's issue). He reminds us of the notion of privilege and how the more invisible privilege is, the more fortunate you are.  He also reminds us that when anyone has to give up power it's going to be a challenge, so we need to help people see the benefits of giving up power in ways that make meaning to them.  You can read a summarised version of his talk here

So why? Because organisations are frequently better off, because you are frequently better off and because men are also better off in the long run when women step up, speak out and take charge.

There is no Mars and Venus, but in fact we are allies here on planet earth and our interests are the same.”
— Michael Kimmel

2. The Career Advice You Probably Didn't Get (Susan Colantuono13 mins

Susan Colantuono is the CEO and founder of Leading Women. You can read more about her here.  She is also the author  of a book called No Ceiling, No Walls: What women haven't been told about leadership, "which takes a close look at the conventional wisdom keeping women from rising from middle management."  

This talk is your how.  It's for anyone who feels like they've worked hard at "doing the job" only to find out that this doesn't get you ahead very fast. That there is a set of curriculum to which you've not been privy to,  and that is not easily taught (or spoken about at women's functions) - strategic acumen, financial acumen and business acumen - "the missing 33%".  

As women we've been socialised since birth to "work hard", to "do the job really well" and to be incredibly loyal to role, department or an organisation. What happens if these behaviours actually keep you "mired in middle management" and get in the way of getting ahead?  

With the right leadership skills, the highest levels of career success are well within reach. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom about leadership won’t get you to the top. Much of it is outdated, incomplete, and ineffective. What you need is.........The Missing 33%!
— Susan Colantuono

So how? Find mentors, coaches, champions and sponsors who can guide you specifically in these sorts of big picture intelligences (the missing 33%) so you can execute bold, audacious moves more easily.

3. Why Ambitious Women Have Flat Heads (Dame Stephanie Shirley) 13 mins

From the TED website:

"Dame Stephanie Shirley is the most successful tech entrepreneur you never heard of. In the 1960s, she founded a pioneering all-woman software company in the UK, which was ultimately valued at $3 billion, making millionaires of 70 of her team members. In this frank and often hilarious talk, she explains why she went by “Steve,” how she upended the expectations of the time, and shares some sure-fire ways to identify ambitious women …"

Wow! So in 1962 this amazing woman not only started her own software company in order to provide a great place to work for women and to make serious money - but also invented the Black Box.  This is inspiring and sad all at once because it highlights that as women in the workforce, we haven't really come all that far, and yet at the same time it's quite clear that we women can and will continue to create and undertake amazing work despite this.

This talk is about your "what". Aim high. Embrace a possibility mindset. Got a big idea? Give it a crack!  Go explore it. Yes, you can. And yes, you should. Don't believe your internal mental chatter or what other people say. 

We waste too much time being afraid, when what we should really fear is wasting time.”
— Stephanie Shirley, Let IT Go - The Memoirs of Dame Stephanie Shirley

So what? Stop playing your B game, stop planning small. Why shouldn't your idea be groundbreaking, earth shattering or incredibly popular?  If you ever need proof - consider the guy who invented the pool noodle!  

“When we dream small we create small things. When we dream big, we create powerful change.”

So have you worked out your why, what and how yet?

Maybe after watching these TED talks you'll start dreaming and scheming again - connecting back with your reason for being.  Just maybe these talks will inspire you to tackle your next promotion or opportunity with a little more clarity, focus and precision.

And more importantly, who are we to be thinking and playing small? Creating a new reality for yourself and others is yours for the taking, if you choose.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution

  • I am the creator of The Ambition Revolution – the science and  art of amping smart and savvy. 

  • I mentor busy professionals to ensure they remain strategic, agile and focused on the bigger game. 

  • I also work with organisations who are trying to increase the profile of women in leadership, but 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