proactive

The secret to getting noticed for all the right reasons for executive women

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I was not rescued by a Prince. I was the adminstrator of my own rescue
— Elizabeth Gilbert

A funny thing happened to me on a webinar the other day.  I was in the middle of introducing the Gold Standard of Executive Branded - proactive, intentional, future focused and strategic when someone asked me a question "Isn't it disingenuous to do this? Surely if we're doing great work people will notice us?" 

My heart stopped.  It was such a great question.

I then took a deep breath and thought deeply before I responded, because I knew exactly where she was coming from.

Let me explain.

My new book From Invisible to Invincible - a self-promotion handbook for executive women (advance orders available here) was originally going to be called Noticed: For all the right reasons. 

Oh, how I loved that title. It was punchy. It was going to have a sealed section with all the wrong reasons (and no, not those sort of wrong reasons). This book was about being noticed by the right audience, at the right time, in the right place with the right key messages in the right currency.

But when I reflected on the issues that many women face: a lack of agency or a tendency to rely more on waiting to be noticed than creating the notice, I simply could not go to print with that title. It would convey the wrong message and keep us stuck once again playing small.

THE SECRET

The secret to creating a career that really counts is that success comes soonest to those who create it themselves - deliberately, proactively, strategically and in a future focused manner.  Not to those who wait around for it to happen to them or for someone to hand it to them.

The socialisation of young women and girls is comes from fairy stories and romance novels where the female protagonist waits to be rescued. Even if we didn't consciously buy into that narrative, it was all around us - television, advertising, magazine articles, our mothers, grans, aunties, female cousins, babysitters or childcare workers who reared us with those same stereotypes in mind. 

After all -

  • Men sweat, while women glow

  • Men go on quests and adventures, while women are required to stay at home waiting and keeping the hearth fires warm

Our history is flooded with images of women sitting passively and looking amazing, without a hair out of place as though as though we didn't break a sweat, Mona Lisa style, while imagery of men is all guts and glory, of men riding, lifting, heaving, throwing, running, creating and leading.

This creates a tendency towards a lack of agency for women. We subconsciously end up imagining that someone needs to tap us on the shoulder, for us to wait to be invited, for it to be worthwhile; that being discovered like Australia’s Top Model is the holy grail (thank you NOT Dolly Magazine of the 70's and 80s'); and this somehow perpetuates a mixed up mess of, if you actually create your own success then it isn't as valid.

Logically this doesn’t even make sense, but it’s so ingrained in the thinking of yesteryear that it’s hard to decode or dismiss even now.

In 2015, I was attending an International Women’s Day function and was seated at a table with a mature-aged (75+) business woman renowned in the dispute resolution sector. She had just published her first, much awaited, book. When I asked her why she waited so long to write the book, she replied ‘No-one had invited me to write one before, so I didn’t think it would be the right thing to do’

This exemplifies much of what many of us still hold to be true. We're still waiting to be invited because we think it's the right thing to do. 

But the new rules for women are - if you don't have a seat at the table, BYO chair. 

This takes focus, striving, strategy, influencing others and right effort.

So to answer the question? No this is not disingenuous. We women simply got the wrong memo. This is the secret ingredient that we've only recently stumbled upon. The men and women winning all the glory are quite simply, creating it for themselves.

Instead, we need to stop waiting and get on with the business of being great then create a world we want to inhabit.

As television producer Shonda Rhimes famously said ... 'I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don't call me lucky. Call me a badass'.

YOUR THOUGHTS?  Have you had your badass moment yet?  Or deep down, are you still waiting?  Drop me a note and let me know.

#Icreatesheroes #womenofimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

 

Share if you dare, to inspire another woman somewhere!

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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

Let's get vi-si-ble, vi-si-ble

It's time!

It’s time to brush off your leadership brand and start standing out for all the right reasons again.⠀

  • Say no - to throwing yourself in at the office boots and all to make up all that lost ground over the holidays. ⠀
  • Say no - to having a default head down backside up attitude without lifting your head to see what’s on the horizon.⠀
  • Say no - to being the flustered, worn out executive up the back of the office - because no-one promotes or appoints that person anyway!!⠀
  • Instead, say yes to the gold standard of executive branded - proactive, future focused, plus deliberately and strategically visible.


Moving forwards
Moving forwards it would be great to see regular content sharing from you this year - either on LinkedIn, via your email newsletter, your internal intranet site or other profile building platform of choice. If I’ve learnt anything in observing leaders and experts, it’s that the people who frequently and consistently stay visible, gain far more traction. 

Here are my five tips to up the ante on standing out for all the right reasons in 2018!

1. Pick a curation tool and get started
- Register one or two Google alerts that will feed you news in your industry that you can share or comment on.  Be specific with your search words so you don’t get overwhelmed.
- Alternatively, follow a bunch of media outlets on Facebook.  I get the AFR via Facebook and it's an awesome feed. I also use Drumup.io and Flipboard as curation tools.
Pick one, then get started. You'll be surprised how easy this is, and how easy it makes your branding journey.

2. Plan the events you will attend, host, chair or speak at where you can get most ROI
Events not only give you great content (images, ideas and inspiration) but you never know who you might bump into. Do ensure that the event is right for your goals. Confidence building is one thing but staying strategically visible by decision makers in your preferred industry category is probably better.  Take a wing woman if you need additional support. Not to chat to each other - but to instead bolster each other, facilitate introductions and to halve the effort yet double your impact.

3. Write a bunch of 50-75 word mini blogs in advance
Ideas to get you started
- what do you believe about your area of expertise?
- what do you believe about leadership/management?
- what do you believe about the future of your industry? 
- what do you believe about women in leadership?
- and why are these things important? 
Think future focused and proactive. These paragraphs then stand you in good stead in meetings, are great starters for networking events or longer form articles/papers, or you can schedule them to go out weekly on LinkedIn. 6 to10 pieces is a great start and puts you well ahead of the rest. Why not dump in a few appropriate hashtags while you're at it? 

#dontdelaystarttoday #thoughtleadership #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

Invisible to invincible! 

Invisible to invincible! 

4. Start strong, avoid passive or safe. Lead with what you stand for. 
When you’re creating content for LinkedIn in response to other content or events, avoid the following;
- simply regurgitating the article
- starting with "this is a great article I found on xxx".
- and by now you know my thoughts on starting a share with "delighted to attend/win/speak/catch up with  .....".  

Do - start with what you stand for and why that's important, then segue to how it adds impact in the context of the group you write for. Add something to it - opinion, analysis, top tips, more information on related topics, advice etc. If graciousness is important, finish with the graciousness piece but certainly don't lead with it.  

 5. Make the time & consider timing. 
I’m finding lunchtime Monday to Wednesday for LinkedIn great during the summer. Thursdays are okay too.  Not too late though, as everyone is back in meetings by 2pm. Another of my clients is having success with Saturdays. Her clients are business leaders and they find time on the weekend.
- Note: Realtime live shares are best. LinkedIn algorithms are now "downgrading" sharing from automated softwares including Buffer or Hootsuite.

I hope to see more quality sharing on LinkedIn or your newsletter in the coming weeks! Do pop me a text, email or LinkedIn message with the link to your post when it goes up, so that I can thumbs up and/or comment myself. 

The Visibility Game
I call much of this a game. In fact, the ever changing algorithms on social media platforms make it so. Did you know that when someone likes, comments or shares your content on LinkedIn, you get points on that item?  And when you’re in the business of staying visible so you can make a bigger difference - this matters - to you, to your organisation, to your mission.

And remember, the goal is to spend quality, strategic and focused time on this now, so you get more bang for your buck when the going gets tough - and have more time to spend on the things that truly make a difference.

Let's get vi-si-ble .... vi-si-ble (she sang)

Amanda


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

It's what you do with it that counts ......

So maybe you've started thinking that there has to be another way. It shouldn't have to be this hard, this frustrating, this ..... exhausting!   You've picked up a bunch of knowledge and ideas from around the traps and you've been mulling them over.

But now what?  What are you going to tackle next?

My challenge to you is to stop thinking about it and take action. Take action in the direction of your goals. Strategic action is best, but any action is better than none. After all, to quote decision making expert Russell Boon - 

Any decision, even the wrong one, is better than no decision

And history tells us that success and achievement is closely correlated with action.

It's rarely about - 

  • How much you know,
  • How big your network,
  • How big a game you are able to talk,
  • How perfect your LinkedIn profile,
  • How creative you are,
  • How loud your voice,
  • How skilled you are right now, or
  • How stylish you are, or even
  • How confident you feel.
proactivity_action_for_women_in_Leadership_Amanda_Blesing

It's what you do with all those things that truly counts.

With the rise in information freely available, the rapid pace of change, constant drains on our attention via digital platforms, reduced downtime and the increase of ambiguous environments in which we operate - experts and researcher estimate that the cost of inertia is increasing in both personal and business. 

Your proclivity for proactivity is what will make you more successful in the long run. 


So what action will you take this week towards Stepping Up, Speaking Out and Taking Charge?  

Then just do it. 


Then eat, sleep, do it again and repeat the next day until you achieve what ever it is you have set out to achieve.

You can think about climbing your mountain. You can read about it, talk to experts about it and even watch videos about climbing mountains. But until you go tackle your mountain, it's only supposition.

As the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, Amelia Earhart, famously said 

The most difficult thing is the decision to act. The rest is merely tenacity

Feminine leadership superpowers + action = priceless

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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

Flicking the switch to "You should Be So Lucky"

You might have read that women tend to underestimate their performance while men tend to overestimate theirs.  Yet when researchers measure actual performance, we perform the same.

Boxing

Unfortunately there is a flow on effect of underestimation in that we frequently don’t stretch as far or as high as might be possible, which goes some way to precluding us from meatier and more substantive opportunities.

Tara Mohr, Playing Big, challenged the assumption that low confidence was behind this.  Her own research found that women were less likely to apply if we didn't think we'd be in the running. 

Now a new study by researchers at the University of Michigan found that women tend to shy away from opportunities where there is more competition.

When applying for a job or college, women seek positions with fewer applicants than men.

Now part of me thinks this is purely smart.

 

But then I'm a woman so it's highly likely I would. 

And maybe this is yet another factor cutting us out of the running for leadership opportunities where we might really have a greater impact.

Fire up your winning streak

I’ve written before about learning the rules of the career game.   We need to learn the rules so we can either play by them or possibly bend them when we need. We also need to learn the unwritten ground rules, so we can at the least be on the same playing field. If a competitive nature and a winning streak are a pre-requisite, then we need to understand our tendency to avoid it, so we do get access to those meatier more substantive opportunities.

It’s just like a game of Snakes and Ladders:

  • There are times when ladder opportunities will come your way, you will put your hand up before you feel ready and say “hell yes” then puzzle out the solution afterwards.
  • There will also be times when you don’t see one of those unwritten ground rules, maybe to do with competitive nature, playing to win, or bias, and you'll slide down a the board on a snake.
  • But the ultimate goal is not to worry too much about the individuals ladders and snakes, but to win at the game. And the game is leading or creating a career that really counts.

Don’t play a defensive game - take control instead

Given that those who are more confident appear to “win”  at work, rest and play, maybe it’s time for us to flick this switch. We want to switch from Abba’s “take a chance on me” to Kylie’s (paraphrased) “I [you] should be so lucky” to have me! Even if we feel as though we're faking it til we make it, it's the way the game is played.

Remember when we’re confident we’ve switched from defensive to self assured

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Some examples of what taking control might look like when applying for roles

1.   When assessing a role when considering whether or not to apply for it instead of passively relying on job adverts and position descriptions to help you make your decision, get on the front foot and do your research.  What’s written in the documentation is such a subjective, narrow definition and interpretation of an actual role and frequently doesn't paint an accurate picture.  Your interpretation of "exciting social media presence" might be very different to someone else's interpretation.  So do your homework and ask questions and never assume.

2.     When preparing your application take control and focus on how to “win” the interview, rather than relying passively on recruiters or the process like everyone else. Reach out to others in the organisation who you might know what the hot spots are. Is their strategic agenda visible on their website or social media presence and what does it tell you about the organisation as a whole? Get on the front foot, colour outside the lines a little and be proactive with your approach and preparation.

3.    In response to interview questions -

  • If someone says “so why should we pick you for the role?” - instead of fumbling for an answer and feeling like you a scene from Oliver Twist begging for more, flip it on it’s head.  Smile confidently and ask the interviewer back “maybe I should ask you - why I should come and work for you?”
  • If someone asks if you have children (unethical, not legal but yes it still happens) - respond with a question instead. "Are you asking me about my time management?"  Take control of the situation confidently.
  • if a potential employer presses you for how much you are currently earning (low, I know), take control and instead propose that it’s really important that you get to know each other first. Have a back up plan. In case they don't accept your initial response, plan with a ballpark response with what you'd like to earn, but reiterate that you're keen to work out if you're the right fit first. 
  • When asked if you have questions, make sure that you are prepared with questions about the performance of the organisation over all - reference the annual report, recent media, the departmental links to the strategic agenda. Ask questions that position you as someone who has done their homework, as confident and who sees the bigger picture. Take control of that perception.

Let's not confuse less willing to compete with unambitious

You've probably heard the myth that women aren't as ambitious as men.  I call bullsh*t on that. Yet it might have something to do with this bias towards less competitiveness.  

What I have found is a bunch of research that indicates that while men tend to correlate success and ambition with financial gain, women also want to know that we're being heard and making a difference. And our perception might just be that it's harder to be heard and harder to make a difference in more competitive environments.

The trifecta - you should be so lucky

So my ambition for you should be so lucky to get the trifecta - whether you're a man or a woman. I'd like you to be remunerated well for the results you help to deliver, to have a voice in the organisation, plus make a bigger difference every single day you turn up. But you're going to have to Step Up, Speak Out and Take Charge in order to do that.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

 

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  •  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

 

 

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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