gender equality

What can you do in just 2 minutes that will help you be more successful?

Tiny Two Minute Tools .jpg

Time to work far smarter?

You bet. 

You've heard of

  • 20 Min Tabata Protocols - designed to help Japanese Olympic speed skaters increase their fitness in very short period of time

  • 7 Min Workout - as popularised by the New York Times. Same principle as above. Intensity, short duration and frequency = more likely to do it.

  • 4 Hour Work Week, Body & Chef - thanks Tim Ferriss for helping us focus on the Minimum Effective Dose - not too little, not too much, but just right.

  • Pomodoro Technique - focus for shorter periods of time, so you can stay focused for longer. An oxymoron if I ever heard one! But it works. 


And now I give you Bo Forbes (neuroscientist, psychologist and yoga teacher) and her Tiny, Two Minute Tools - two minute specific activities you can (and are more likely to) do, more frequently (because they're super easy) to shift the dial on your health and wellbeing. 

Her research initially proved that a daily 20 minute yoga practice delivered far more benefit than 90 minute classes twice per week.

It went on to demonstrate that, despite their diminutive title, Tiny, Two Minute Tools punch above their weight on both health, hormones and happiness. 

But Amanda!  You don't write a fitness blog. Why are you sharing this?

Because the way that you do anything is the way you do everything.

Because the plan that you do, is better than the perfect plan that sits in the cupboard and never sees the light of day.

Because I feel for every executive woman who is trying to have it allbe it all, and create a career that really counts but who gets to the end of the year and is exhausted and wonders if it's worthwhile.

Because we all do it!  We work hard at something until we don't (or can't) because it's no longer working. 

Because I was disappointed to read this startling statistic from former Australian Prime Minister The Hon. Julia Gillard in a speech she gave at University of Adelaide in September 2018.

"The number of women in senior management globally has risen just 1% point in 10 years” 


Just 1%. 

We've been working hard at gender equity for years. It's time for both men and women to work far smarter. 

As Albert Einstein is widely quoted as saying 
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

Because the Tiny, Two Minute Tool is a metaphor for paradigm shift, and instead of trying to fix all companies everywhere so we get overwhelmed and don't bother, let's start in our own backyard with things that don't seem threatening and are easy to put in place and do more frequently.

Let's find an equivalent of the Tiny, Two Minute Tool and implement it in our own careers in 2019.

Perhaps 2019 is the year of being far smarter about how we tackle gender equity and feminine empowerment collectively and our own careers individually. 

So what will you do differently moving forward?

Drop me an email if you have a big idea, that might benefit from baby steps. I'd love to hear.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolutionrocks #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition 

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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

Sexist attitudes still exist in 2018 - 10 worst explanations

I’m utterly gob-smacked that these attitudes exist in 2018

“We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else’s turn”

“All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”

“Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”

They were part of a list of the 10 worst explanations given to a team questioning chairs & CEOs of the 350 biggest publicly listed companies in Britain over low numbers of women serving on British boards, according to a NYT article on 31 May

“As you read this list of excuses, you might think it’s 1918 not 2018. It reads like a script from comedy parody but it’s true” ~ Amanda Mackenzie, CEO, Business in the Community

If you’re in Oz thinking that we’re different, think again, with high profile male chairs recently expressing similar sentiments

“You hear some of the blokes complaining – but we are in the midst of a social revolution; now they have to compete against 100% of the population, not 50% ~ Ilana Atlas, Coca-Cola Amatil Chair

Comments do not reflect research on the issue. Increasing numbers of investors are pushing for greater gender diversity on the boards. Watch this space.….

Read further: 

 

 
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 men can help women flourish in the workplace

Organisations that don’t have women on the leadership team are plain and simply leaving money on the table and yet many women still struggle to make it through the talent pipeline to the top. Male managers can help but many don't know what to do differently while avoiding criticism from others and having their own career penalised.

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others
— Bill Gates

If men are interested in helping female talent to flourish more effectively, there are some easy practices to champion and adopt that will help.  Here are six ideas to keep handy, that truly make a difference.

1. Ensure that women get a voice at the table, instead of being spoken over, dismissed or bypassed.    In a 2014 study from George Washington University we learned that when men were talking with women, they interrupted 33% more often than when they were talking with men. So instead of being part of the problem, establish systems that break the cycle. Why not deploy a fair airtime to share in meetings policy so everyone has a voice? And if a woman does speak up, but her idea is dismissed or brushed over, systematically draw attention back to the idea with a "Great idea Gloria, could you explain more?"  Note to female readers: you can do this for each other too (Julie Bishop style).

2. Don't be afraid of mentoring women. Did you know that women are 54% less likely to have a sponsor and 24% less likely to get advice from senior leaders?  The latest research from LeanIn and McKinsey sheds quite a bit of light on informal mentoring. 

According the WSJ article Don't Avoid Women, Mentor Them "Mentors show women the ropes and help us navigate office politics. They introduce us to decision-makers who help us get high-profile assignments. So much of what gets you noticed at work is who you know and who sings your praises." 

If you are worried about taking a female colleague to drinks or dinner, suggest a breakfast or coffee meeting instead. 

3. Include women in informal networking situations - one of the biggest issues I'm asked about by women in masculine dominated industries is "What should I do when all the guys do is want to go to the football, play golf, go cycling or to the bar after work?"  

Never assume that women don't want to do those things, or that all men want to do those things either. Make sure that there are a range of informal networkings situations where everyone is included.

One of my female clients who works in a male dominated industry sometimes finds out AFTER the fact that the guys all went to the football on Saturday and she didn't get an invite. She loves football and also knows they talk about work at those events. Make sure everyone gets the invite and knows they are truly welcome.

4. Never assume - there is an old saying that "assumption make an ass out of UME".  As per the above, never assume that someone wouldn't want to travel due to family reasons or responsibilities. Never assume that someone wouldn't want to commute.  Just because you wouldn't want something doesn't mean that others wouldn't want it. You never know what's going on in someone's life and they may just have a work around that's a better solution.  Ask or offer anyway.

5. Don't be afraid to question practices that do lead to exclusion - such as business travel. Australians have a love affair with business travel. We're addicted to it. But does it drive better performance? During the GFC many organisations in Australia put severe limitations on travel with great effect.  It's not just women who may have problems being away from home when they have child care or family responsibilities. Many men want to participate more in this as well.  While your frequent flyer balance might not look so good, your workplace and business results are likely to be better with more inclusive policies anyway.

6. Stand up for what's right - If a visiting speaker or consultant cracks a sexist joke - don't feel obliged to laugh and be sure to let them know the those sorts of comments are not appropriate in this workplace. 

In summary, the practices suggested above are good for all. Women are equally as socialised, biased and prone to stereotyped assumptions as men. I encourage female managers and leaders to implement some or all of these ideas as well.

 

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

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

Have you drawn your line in the sand? Sexist comments perpetuating the cycle

“We’re going to pay [insert male name] more because he is a man and needs it more than you.”
“Let’s give the' little woman' something to do to keep her busy.”
“I prefer to employ women, because they’re cheaper.”

These are all comments I’ve had said to me over the years.

Shocking I know.

Some might argue that they were ‘of the times’

However the last was shared with me in 2017!

Were the people saying these things bad people?

Not necessarily.

Simply misguided & mistaken.

These comments are insidious.

They did damage then & they do damage now.

Plus are symptoms of a far bigger issue still at play.

Women & women’s work is still under-valued.

And when women move in & become more dominant in an industry, the salary drops.

Yet, the tide is turning.

With globalisation & technological innovation comes increased speed, competition & new problems to be solved with DIFFERENT thinking.

Social media is providing a platform, along with increased awareness & education.

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Iceland is leading the way too.

Condescension is part of the problem. 

Laughing at sexist jokes is no longer OK.

Employing women because they’re cheaper is exploitation.

And if you aren’t careful, that little woman will be too smart to want to work for you anyway.

My line is drawn in the sand. Right here, right now.

Where and when is 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

The rise of the fempreneur both inside and outside of your organisation

The most important factor in determining whether you will succeed isn’t your gender, it’s you. Be open to opportunity and take risks. In fact, take the worst, the messiest, the most challenging assignment that you can find, and then take control.
— Angela Braly, CEO, WellPoint


We live in extremely exciting times with the numbers of women pursuing entrepreneurial ventures on the rise. Did you know that .....    

“Women-owned entities in the formal sector represent approximately 37 percent of enterprises globally — a market worthy of attention by businesses and policy makers alike. While aggregated data is often challenging to find, the recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) found 126 million women starting or running businesses, and 98 million operating established (over three and a half years) businesses. That’s 224 million women impacting the global economy — and this survey counts only 67 of the 188 countries recognized by the World Bank.”
Anoop Saxena, Founder & CEO, Womenora


In fact, 35-55-year-old female entrepreneurs are the biggest demographic, according to Drew Hendricks on Inc Magazine.

So what does this have to do with executive women?

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The rise of the female entrepreneur is not limited to small business.  In fact throughout business, government and corporate there is a significant increase in the number of women establishing expert status as both infopreneurs (those who trade in information and ideas) and intrapreneurs (those who innovate, take risks and create new ways of doing things inside corporates). Each of these are aspects of entrepreneurialism, ergo, the feminine entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in many areas of our society.

While creating, innovating and tailoring products and services specifically for women is smart in the entrepreneurial world I wonder if in fact it’s not so smart when it comes to the gender diversity and helping women lead.

When women speak to women’s only audiences, we’re preaching to the converted. We’re also not addressing or shining a light on the issues that frequently hold women back to the people who are best positioned to do anything about it.

One area where we can make a big difference - conference planning

Over the course of my own career, I’ve booked and briefed more speakers than you can poke a stick at. I always made a point to ask speaker bureaus and brokers for female speakers for technical conferences whether they were legal, insurance, policy or consumer affairs conferences or roundtables.

One thing I remember, that despite asking for female speakers on technical topics, I’d be told that audiences preferred male speakers ( ….. yawn .....right ....).

Something else I noticed was that there was definitely a shift in the last 10 or so years, as more female speakers came on board - however they were all speaking on female empowerment topics. (Hand on heart, I fit the bill as well.)


Why are these issues a problem?

The first is that the speaker gatekeeper was perhaps not as aware of gender diversity and inclusion principles as you might expect.  Don't believe the hype. Mixed gender audiences also love female speakers.

In my time, four of the audience favourites included Amanda McKenzie (a member of the youth climate coalition), Major Matina Jewell (on leading in a crisis), Avril Henry (on leadership more broadly) and Jane Caro (on consumer emotion), who each received rave reviews from men and women alike.

Secondly, if women keep preaching to the converted and to those who are already feeling marginalised, others inside organisations and industry, who may in fact hold more power to do something about it, never hear about the issues in the first place.

And finally, we keep perpetuating the cycle that aligns masculine voice with leadership and expert status. When we don't hear women speaking on leadership and expertise more broadly, men AND women don't see it was a viable option.

Reframe for a challenge

This week I was delighted to accept the opportunity to emcee the Project Management Institute Australian Conference in Sydney. Yes, it is a peak body event, showcasing innovative ideas, best practice and establishing benchmarks and standards for industry. Yes, it’s important that women are seen and heard on such conference programs and panels in areas that showcase expertise and leadership. And no, I didn’t insist on hosting the sessions designed to empower women.  

I'm delighted to emcee and create arguments and linkages, that help those women and men in the project management profession to create more effective pathways to leadership.  


Embrace your inner Expert and accept the challenge

It's got me thinking. As a result, I issue a challenge -        

  • To female executives, experts and speakers, whether you're trading in information, business transformation or creating new realities - to step outside of the narrow band of women's only topics and to tailor content for mixed gender audiences.        
  • To speaker brokers, bureaus, conference planners and conference planning committees - to program with gender diversity front of mind, but to look beyond gender. Don't simply program women on female empowerment topics and men for leading in a crisis topics. Consider fempreneurs and experts in the mix for technical and generic leadership topics, and consider male speakers for topics stereo-typically aligned with the feminine such as emotional intelligence and communication.  

Why?  

Because if we are going to move the dial on gender diversity, then we need to create a seat at the leadership table, not just at the table for women.  And until we change the landscape and establish a new normal for expert status, smart and highly visible women still run the risk of remaining in the margins.  And having feminine voice heard and accepted as part of this new normal is not just great for business, but great for men and women as well.

Go on and embrace your inner expert. You know you want to!

Feminine Leadership Super Powers + Fempreneur Expert Status = Priceless


Remember - smart and savvy truly is the name of this game! Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #executivebrand

Email me if you have a fempreneur expert status success story you want to share with me.

Or get in touch if you need a help with unpacking and selling your expert status brand more skilfully.

 

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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

The key to inclusion in the gender diversity & inclusion game ....

We've all heard of the terms diversity and inclusion. But what do they really mean? Let me put it into context. 

Remember back to when you were a kid in school. Specifically when you were out on the oval suffering through being picked by the cool and sporty spice kids to be on the team (unless you were the cool and sporty kid yourself of course!).

I hear you!  I wasn't into team sports as a kid so that made me a lousy pick despite being relatively athletic and highly coordinated.  And it meant that I regularly had to suffer the indignity of wondering if this was the week when I'd face the humiliation of missing out or being last.

Diversity in this context would be the sporting captain picking a team of people with different strengths and weaknesses so that the team played better overall.  Not just going with those he or she liked, but understanding that this was for the benefit of the team's longer term performance so selecting for skills and attributes that were different to bolster the team overall..

Inclusion would have been to ensure that each of the skill sets and attributes selected for were equally valued  (the goal shooter no more or less valued than the centre or the wing defence). That even the kid chosen last felt as though they were part of the cool brigade, a valued contributor and equally able to participate in the direction of the team as anyone else. Late to the party didn't mean valued less.

In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.
— Sheryl Sandberg



In a business environment?


Diversity and inclusion in a business setting are not really different in my mind, except that the cool kids are still ruling the roost and the inclusion piece is still a long way off.

Yet there is mounting evidence purely for the business benefits of the cause including recent research demonstrating that companies with at least 30% female leadership adding as much as 6% to net margins. (Peterson Institute for International Economics 2017)

Diversity - where you have different types of people working in an organisation. In the gender diversity movement it means organisations who have an even spread of men and women throughout, at all levels. Equal numbers of women and men in support type functions. Equal numbers women and men in leadership and management type functions.

Inclusion is where the organisation adapts and changes to embrace and value the different thinking, different approaches and different ideas that will result from having more women in senior roles and more men in more enablement/optimisation functions. 

You can invite women to management roles, to the C-suite and to the Board room table. But unless you also create and drive a culture that treats women, their leadership style and their opinions with respect, until womens' contribution is welcomed and valued, and the incumbent is prepared to adapt and relish the opportunity to change and grow - you are quite simply missing the point.

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  • Quotas and targets will drive gender diversity.
  • Inclusion is the key that unlocks the benefits (social, cultural, economic & business) that gender diversity brings. 

Both require self awareness, direct links to strategy and future focused leadership, along with role modelling from the top down. And none of us will reap the rewards until the inclusion piece is solved.

And as women are still 'leaning out' at the rate of knots, business, corporate and government are obviously still not getting the formula right.

There is one company in Australia who is doing this extremely well. Aurecon headed by Giam Swiegers is winning hands down in reaping the innovation benefits that diversity AND inclusion bring.  I'd love to see far more.

Feminine leadership superpowers  + inclusion = priceless

Vive la révolution!  #talentrevolution #ambitionrevolution

So has your organisation really embraced the whole 'inclusion' piece?  Or is there still a layer of 'permafrost' in upper middle and lower senior management who haven't got the memo yet? Drop me a line and let me know. 


And reach out if you want help with this.

 

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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

5 Career Lessons for Women - from the online blogging world OR Linkfluencer Conference Highlights November 2015

Linkfluencer Annual Conference Highlights

Linkfluencer Annual Conference Highlights

In November, I attended the Linkfluencer Annual Conference hosted by Linkfluencer and run by Alex Pirouz.  While some conferences are theoretical and programmed to explore the problem - this one wasn't.  In fact, right from the get go we got onto practical, take home strategies that will help anyone to tap into and harness the power of LinkedIn better - particularly entrepreneurial and info-preneurial ventures.  

As some of you are aware - I've run or attended more conferences than most people have had hot dinners.  So I'm pretty picky when it comes to the program.

 

Thanks to the organisers for pulling together an awesome technical expert presentation team including Jeff Bullas, Robert Coorey and Andrew Wickham.

My one disappointment? No women on stage. I'm pretty sure that women are doing great things on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Would have been nice to see that reflected on the stage too. While I don't want to rain on their parade (because it truly was a value packed event and the lessons absolutely invaluable), given that women are AWESOME at connection, socialising, communicating etc there would appear to be a natural fit with the power of social. Surely there is some woman somewhere in the social media world here in Australia who is doing great things?   Conference organisers need a check list when programming so they don't fall into that trap by accident.  (Note: since first publishing this on my blog organisers have already acknowledged that they are looking at this in preparation for next year.)

So what did I learn that might be relevant to those who work in professional roles?  Heaps!!  Let's extrapolate.

1. Blog before breakfast.
So you don't blog?  Don't worry. Same same, but different. This is not a new idea, but it is a great reminder - even if you don't blog.   The early bird catches the worm.  Many highly successful and powerful people wake early and get started on their work.  And according to Top 10 Career Lessons From Powerful Women on Forbes Magazine:

“Starbucks’ President Michelle Gass wakes up at 4:30 every morning to go running. (Former) Avon chairman Andrea Jung wakes up at 5. LongtimeVogue editor Anna Wintour is on the tennis court by 6 every morning before work. These women have realized that success comes easier when you have a jump on the day.”


So what are you waiting for? Set your alarm. Establish a routine. Beat the commute and get something substantive done and out of the way BEFORE breakfast. You might just surprise yourself at how energetic you actually feel.

2. Systematise, automate and outsource/delegate.
We know that systems and processes help mitigate anxiety and increase productivity. However sometimes human nature gets in the way and we get stuck in the rut of wanting to do it all ourselves. To keep highly productive it's time to regroup and ditch that thinking.

  • What can you eliminate that might be cluttering your thinking?
  • Or perhaps you feel negatively about so its an energy drain slowing you down?  
  • Or what else is simplynot getting done because you don't really know how to tackle it?  

Once again in that great article from Forbes on career advice for women and delegation:

“If you think of your career as a juggling act of various balls, ask yourself which of those balls are made of glass and would shatter if dropped, and which are made of rubber and would bounce back. Give away the rubber balls.”


3. Drop old school thinking about connecting on social media. 
If someone you don't remember invites you to connect, do your due diligence (vet their profile) but keep an open mind. Stay curious and consider how you both might be able to help each other - it's a new hyper connected world where joined up thinking, connection and collaboration are the way of the 21st Century. In the old world we were more likely to operate in silos and structures. Now openness and curiosity are queens. As we lookfor new ways to solve old problems we just might need to think outside the square.  

“Today, the lightning pace of change means you have to be ever-curious, always ready to learn and adapt to the new environment around you. Anne Sweeney, the co-chair of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, describes herself as “driven by curiosity” because “it gets people excited” and “leads to new ideas, new jobs, new industries.” She says, “The smartest thing you can ever do is to constantly ask questions.” Forbes


4. Done is better than perfect.
Not a new idea by any means but obviously we all need constant reminding.  Don't let perfect be the enemy of the good!  Jeff Bullas showed us his first tweet. OOPS!! Not perfect!  He showed us his first blog. Another big OOPS - and another "not perfect". However these first steps were the beginning of him building an amazing social enterprise.   

So what are you procrastinating on right now because it's not perfectly polished? What projects, what new ideas, what initiatives are on the go slow because you are feeling like it needs more work?  Take a good look and then hit the "play" button.  You might be pleasantly surprised at the results.

5. The sooner you put scalable tools into place, the sooner you will grow. 
So how does this translate in the professional world?  Mentors, champions, coaches, sponsors, cleaners, VA's, outsourcing, systems and processes that free your thinking power up and allow you to keep growing -  and thinking bigger.  It's safe not to scale - but it won't get you very far very fast and in fact will eventually slow you don't.  Change gears and accelerate instead.

“Get comfortable with discomfort! And from there you will be far more effective”


So my question to you is - what can you do right now that will move you forwards?  What can you implement immediately that will help you execute your next bold audacious move?  Or what is the one thing you've been thinking about for weeks, but haven't yet done, that will land you the role of your dreams one day?  

And instead of thinking about it? Just do it.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution


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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

Language Warning! Four bad habits that undermine your credibility

The gender diversity (or gender equality) debate has been going on for years and seems to have gathered a new and welcome momentum.  Some of the issues we face include unconscious bias, conscious bias and downright discrimination.  However sometimes there is a piece of the pie that we women need to own. Sheryl Sandberg talks about “leaning in”.  I call it stepping up, speaking out and taking charge. 

When it comes to gender politics in the office, just like dressing appropriately, we also need to pay attention to our language and speech habits. If we want a seat at the “big table” then we need to speak like grown ups and “own that sh*t”.  And the following four habits that we women frequently demonstrate undermine our credibility and authority all in one - without us even knowing.

“And anyway, who wears a tiara on a jungle gym?”
— Sheryl Sandberg

1. Just – the most recent culprit  in the language debate is the use of “just”. Earlier in 2015 Ellen Petry Leanse, founder, Karmahacks; strategist, advisor, online pioneer was published in Business Insider calling women out on it.

I was delighted and couldn't agree more, because the word is a pet peeve of mine.  I hear this word all the time and mostly from women. Let’s be honest, frequently there is no just about it. At the very least the word is redundant – and at the most it diminishes the opinion, status or impact of the request by the initiator/asker.

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  • “I just wanted to find out …..”
  • “I was just booking for …..”
  • “ I am just enquiring about …..”
  • “Just following up …”
  • “Just checking in …."

My own research (sample size of about six close personal female friends for brunch) determined that the use of the word is part of our feminine socialisation – not to big note ourselves, not to stand out, not to offend, not to challenge, to be safe and (let’s own the negative impact of fashion magazines, dieting and body image too) to be diminutive, small and not a bother.

So check your emails before you hit send.  Listen to your own speech patterns. Then remove “just”. This one small change makes your communications far more powerful. Try it. You may be surprised at how confident you sound and the results that you get with this one simple change.

2. Deflecting compliments . Oh boy. And most of us think we are simply doing the right thing!

You know when someone pays you a compliment and you say;

 “Oh, it was nothing, it was just my job, in fact the team did most of the work and … the reality is the project didn’t go so well. We hit a few speed bumps, we crashed into a few hurdles ………..” ? 

Sound familiar?

It’s okay to accept a compliment as it is and simply say thank you.  It makes the giver feel good, it boosts your own confidence plus it helps with your own credibility. Repeat after me -

“Deflecting compliments undermines credibility.
Accepting compliments boosts it.”

As women we’ve been taught time and time again not to big note ourselves, not to take credit unless its totally ours, and not to stand out . Why? Because it's allegedly “unladylike”. 

Well in a future where women are leading equally with men it’s totally unprofessional (non gender specific) to not accept a compliment.  So own it, accept it and maybe dish out a few compliments of your own as you see how they boosts the confidence of both the giver and the receiver.

3. Apologising for strong opinions

"Women are 37%* more likely than men to identify their own behavior as worthy of an apology, which leads to women apologizing more frequently than men do ... which in turn, unfortunately, fuels the double standard that women who aren’t “apologetic enough” are bossy (or worse)."  Upworthy July 2014

All true and correct according to a 2010 study by Karina Schuman and Michael Ross entitled Why Women Apologize More Than Men; Gender Differences in Thresholds for Perceiving Offensive Behavior.

However what’s more concerning is that as women we sometimes apologise for having strong opinions.  You’ve probably heard it in meetings or in strong discussions where sometimes, if a woman lands a contrary opinion, she apologises.

“If you set out to be liked, you will accomplish nothing.”
— Margaret Thatcher

Learn to accept responsibility for your own thoughts, ideas and opinions. They are just that; thoughts, ideas and opinions, not "truths".   These thoughts, ideas and opinions are based on the evidence you have access to at that time. 

As women we apologise even when its not our fault – when we bump elbows with someone on the plane next to us, when we are startled and when we talk over someone. Sheryl Sandberg says its because have been told we are too bossy since we were little girls. Sound familiar?  

It’s ingrained into us and a hard pattern to break.  But if you want to see evidence of what a difference it makes then check out this powerful campaign by Pantene – demonstrating the power of turning off your “automatic” sorry response.  

4. And finally - Uptalk – more commonly known as ending a sentence that is not a question with an upward inflection .

If you have any ambitions to head up a team, lead an organisation or influence others to join you in your new venture you’ll want to knock this one on the head - immediately.

Linguistic experts don’t really know where it came from but it’s fairly wide spread and, unfortunately Australians and New Zealanders are rather expert at it.  In a 2014 BBC article they call attention to the rise of the upward inflection (pun intended) and how it sounds like we are asking for permission all the time. This in turn diminishes your power,  your credibility and authority. 

Picture this - you are a high performer, possibly even a perfectionist, with an eye for your next big promotion.  You go in for your performance appraisal and you are totally and awesomely prepared.  In outlining your work, your input and the key measurable outcomes, every second statement you make ends with a upward inflection - which make it sound like a question.  

  • Where is the power in this conversation?
  • How credible do you think it sounds?

More importantly it sounds like you are seeking permission - rather than making statements - therefore undermining your best attempts at negotiating that extra pay rise or next big promotion.

The fix for it all?

The ego’s deep, ingrained need for approval is hard to fix - so you’ll need to be vigilant. 

  • Next time you have a conversation I challenge you to record yourself and listen for the tone and melody of your conversation.  Listen out also for apologies, the word just and also compliment deflection. Determine whether or not they were necessary - or simply ingrained patterning, people pleasing or seeking approval behaviours.
  • Ask a trusted colleague, coach or mentor to give you feedback next time you are in a meeting or in a situation where you feel stressed or uncertain.
  • Rehearse a few times and then record yourself again so you can hear what's really going on.  Fake it till you make it is probably great advice in this instance.
  • I've even heard of a manager using this as a teaching point with the entire team to ensure the department operated more efficiently and effectively - supporting each other and getting better results as a result.

So why is this important?

We're in interesting times right now.  As women we want to lead but frequently find the journey there is not easy at the best of times and downright challenging at the worst.  You want to make sure that your ambition "tool kit" is fitted out with the best of the best, sharpest, high quality tools that help you get ahead more easily.  Credibility, authority and expertise are great tools  - and we need to make sure that we don't accidentally undermine ourselves despite best efforts and intentions.

Vive la révolution! 

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—    If you missed it - 3 Signs Your LinkedIn Profile Sucks

  • 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