women and leadership

Are Women's Conferences Worth It?

Shawn Achor seems to think so!

(Vested interest: I’m in an airport lounge heading to speak at the Gartner Senior Women in Multinationals Retreat as I write this)

Back to Shawn - he was so challenged by the scepticism displayed by a fellow plane passenger that he conducted some research to test the theory.

In the year after connecting with peers at the Conference for Women -

  • the likelihood of receiving a promotion doubled 
  • attendees had triple the likelihood of a 10%+ pay increase 
  • 78% percent of them reported feeling “more optimistic about the future”

Other critical determiners from his own observations of 900 conferences included:

Invisible_to_Invincible_Women_Of_Impact_Executive_Women_AmandaBlesing.jpg
  • a sense of social connection felt by the attendees
  • engaging sessions
  • leaders who role model & exemplify the qualities that the conference is attempting to instil
  • a memorable moment, and
  • a realistic assessment of the present with an optimistic look to the future.

My take? Put a few conferences designed for women into the mix - men included. Many of the journey stories and case studies are inspiring in their own right, and it might just lead to you winning the raise, promotion or recognition you truly deserve.

 

 

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.

WomenShouldntWaitExecutiveCareer

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

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

Where are you getting in your own way?

Ground Hog day

I have a confession to make: Remember Bill Murray in Groundhog day? Where he keeps on having to relive the same moment in time, over and over again, until he learns the lesson?  Well I've recently had to acknowledge my groundhog day moment. And it's this: if I simply get out of my own way I achieve far greater results for both myself AND my clients. 

I'm exactly like Bill Murray and I keep having to learn this lesson, over and over again. 

So what does "getting out of your own way" mean? 

Here are some examples that might resonate for you:

  • You're too busy just now to finalise that Award nomination - despite this being exactly what needs to be done
  • You couldn't possibly finish publishing that VLOG because your hair isn't sitting perfectly today - despite the output being a key milestone on your business plan
  • You simply can't get up in the morning and exercise, despite your doctor telling you you need to do more exercise
  • You never make it to your evening yoga class (because you simply don't do mornings) because you're tired and have to work late
  • You're too busy and too indispensable to schedule annual leave - and yet somehow others around you get to go on that European cycling holiday or Balinese yoga retreat without any seeming penalty
  • You work late nights and on weekends week on week, despite noticing that it's impacting on your creativity, health and friendships - and despite you knowing better (oh yes that's me!)
  • You don't set up regular schedules for business development activities, despite knowing that your success depends on it, because you feel a bit uncomfortable. 
  • You approach an expert to help you set up your business but then don't follow the process because, of course, you know better.

It's procrastination pure and simple

Getting in your own way, tripping yourself up or slowing yourself down is a form of procrastination.  You're delaying on doing things that are about your success or that you know are good for you because you think you know better or that things might work out in the wash. The reality check is that if you were to ask someone's advice it would be a no-brainer, yet we still don't act.

So how can you get out of your own way?

Try these three questions. Ask yourself:

  1. What would your future leadership self do in this situation?
  2. What's the worst thing that could happen if you do?
  3. What's the worst thing that could happen if you don't?

All of a sudden your way forward is a whole heap easier - you have clarity, purpose and strategy all rolled into one.

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

My mission in life is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.

 

 

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

What would your future leadership personal brand do?

In Australia there is an extremely witty television series on the ABC called Gruen which lifts the lid on the world of advertising, spin and marketing. As an aside, and as a glowing testament to the IQ of the viewing public, the show's ratings beat both The Block and The Bachelor in 2016.

What would your future self do?

What would your future self do?

Each week they have a segment that features a particularly dominant world personality. This season that was Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada - a self confessed feminist and driver of change.  With tongue firmly planted in cheek the host, Will Anderson, poses the question "What would Justin do?" with a graphic of a superhero ripping open his/her shirt to expose a superhero chest and then flick to a clip of Mr Trudeau doing something pretty amazing or unusual somewhere in the world.

But what about your personal brand?

So now it's your turn. When was the last time you clearly defined your future leadership personal brand?  Never? Well why not try now? Go on. Grab your 'confidence journal' and start describing.

  • What work would your future leadership self be doing?
  • What would you stand for?
  • What do you believe in?
  • What difference would you be making?
  • How would you behave or react?
  • What language and voice would you be using?
  • What would you be wearing?
  • How would you turn up to work every day?
  • What would be your leadership style?
  • What difference would you be making?
  • How much money would you be making?
  • Who would you be hanging out with?
  • How would you respond to criticism?
  • How would you respond to compliments?
  • What things would you share on Social?
  • What conversations are you having (and with whom)?
  • What decisions would you be making? and
  • Who, or what ,are you leading?

Your answers to these questions (and more) become your blueprint, or even a road map, to help you navigate more successfuly as you head into leadership territory. Your answers will also help others work out how to interact with you and what to expect from you plus keep you one step ahead of your competition. After all people are inspired by leaders who look like they know where they are going. 

Pro-active personal brand development is not as common as it should be

According to Glenn Llopis on Forbes

"less than 15% of leaders have defined their personal brand and only 5% are living it every day."

Yet with success and and a clearly defined personal brand so closely correlated I wonder why this is?

By doing this work pre-emptively are already well ahead of the pack. This becomes your competitive advantage - and makes tough decisions far easier.

Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.
— Toni Morrison

 

Use your leadership self to help Solve problems

So in the same Gruen vein, I suggest that any time you come up with a dilemma that you can't solve via the usual channels, you rip open your metaphorical superhero leadership shirt and ask yourself, what would your future leadership brand do? And solve it that way.

Decisions are far easier when you bring your biggest, best and most leaderly self to work every day.

We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.
— Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
 

Don't listen to the itty bitty shitty committee

When it comes to a situation at work that you don't prefer, or a dilemma you can't solve easily then you want to approach it with your leadership personal brand front and centre. Don't listen to the itty bitty shitty committee, or the scared weird little guys who frequently sit on your shoulder and give you small and safe advice.  Simply approach the situation with your future leadership personal brand blueprint, along with the those three feminine super powers (active listening, clear communication and emotional intelligence) and work your way through. You'll thank yourself later.

Plus by doing the work and unpacking your future personal brand pre-emptively you're already one step ahead of the curve so when a difficult situation occurs in the future, you'll feel far more clear, confident and certain far sooner.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

My mission is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.

 

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

 

AmandaBlesing
  • 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

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

Key learnings from the Women World Changer event in Sydney 12 Oct 2016

I'm a self confessed conference junkie. I've attended hundreds of them, and run more than most people have had hot dinners.   I enjoy the networking, I enjoy the opportunity to down tools and reflect on best practice, brash new ideas and challenging concepts. I also appreciate being in a room with like minded individuals and reflecting that;

"Gee, what I'm doing on the money.  Keep on going. This stuff makes a difference."

Last week I attended the Women World Changers one day event in Sydney.

The speaker lineup was a who's who in gender and broader diversity discussions from Australia and beyond including the following: Wendy McCarthy AO, Holly Ransom, Avril Henry, Ming Long, Mai Chen, Pat Milligan, Dr Simon Longstaff AO FCPA, Ainslie van Onselen, Giam Swiegers, Libby Lyons, Jenny Leong, Christine Bartlett, Veena Sahajwalla, Amy Mullins, John Lydon, Hala Gorani, Jennifer Dalitz, Melissa Browne, Kim-Louise Liddell, Gen George, Karen Beattie.

And "girl" did I have a great day!  It felt pretty fabulous to be in a room full of men and women committed to gender equity - and the benefits for business and society more broadly.  Thanks to both Carla Wall and Deborah Harrigan who joined me at the event. It was great to share and compare highlights afterwards.

Significant moments for me?

Wendy McCarthy AO as the opening keynote drawing attention to:

  • "the gap between well intentioned programs and programs that deliver real outcomes"
  • "the face of poverty in the future is an older woman with no super"

Patricia Milligan - on the data

  • "Companies who measure the progress and publish the results get better results"
  • "One of the biggest issues cited by women for leaving the workforce is health and well being issues"

Ming Long on encouraging men into the conversation

  • "Slavery didn’t end because black people thought it was a good idea. It disappeared because white people thought it was a good idea. Let’s get men into the discussion about gender equity"
  • "For the men in the room understand gender equity in the workplace is a smart business move, not just a nice to have because you have daughters"
  • "Some of the male champions don’t quite get it, but they’re on the journey and most importantly in positions of power to do something about gender equality"

Mae Chen on Super Diversity

  • "Cultural capability (CQ) is the new currency of success for business and individuals"
  • "I came to this conference because the title is Women World Changers - we need to change the world for humans, not just women"

Holly Ransom on the future of work

  • "The nature of work is changing and becoming portfolio in nature with consulting, freelancing and flexibility options seen as more and more attractive"
  • "6 degrees of separation is out the window - with impact of a social media it's estimated to be more like 3.8 degrees"

Avril Henry with a rousing close on how women can make a bigger difference for themselves

  • "No-one is more interested in your career than you. Put up your hand and manage it!"
  • "Winning women don't play nice, they play fair"

Please enjoy (and share) the Twitter highlights below!

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

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

Why getting out of your own way is good for business

Over the last few months I've been stewing on the importance of getting out of your own way. Then it all came a head last week as I was feeling the excruciating discomfort of nominating myself for an Award (and yes, it's important to me that I ask the same of myself as I ask of my clients). 

I was collecting evidence for the nomination when I stumbled across the unopened feedback from the 2015 APAC Women in Leadership & Management Summit ... from 9 months ago.

StressedWoman
  • Unopened you ask? Yes, unopened. 
  • Why? Because when it arrived my ego and small self got in the way.
  • And why is this a problem? Because said feedback could have either helped me improve far faster, or made me feel far more confident far sooner.
  • And why is this an issue? Because I've been downplaying and underestimating my ability to make a difference via speaking until I felt as though I was perfect already.

While my example is specific to me, we all do it. We all play small when we should be playing big with only ourselves to blame. So here are some signs that you might be getting in your own way. 

  • You hold yourself to higher standards than you hold your staff to
  • You criticise others with subjective perceptions about appearance or behaviours
  • You're procrastinating, hesitating or feeling bottle-necked
  • You're really good at making excuses and they're always legitimate
  • You're 'too busy' to do the very thing that you need to do to get ahead
  • You handball an opportunity to gain visibility to a peer or colleague 
  • You haven't updated CV for years and it's stopping you going for opportunities 
  • You don't build network outside of the business because you are loyal
  • You've rationalised your way out of nominating for an Award
  • You say yes to things that undermine your own best attempts

In this crazy and exciting world of women leaning in - underestimating, second guessing and self doubting may feel like the best bet - even when it's not.

So what can you do about it?

  • Get out of your own way
  • Let go of your need to be in control
  • Put systems and mechanisms in place that take you out of the equation
  • Delegate more
  • Ask someone (or some system) to manage your calendar so you can't accept meetings after hours or at lunchtime unless you really have to
  • Appoint a marketing expert to update your bio, draft your thought leadership articles or email newsletters
  • Ask the communications team to help you write your industry Award nomination

Your comfort zone is called your comfort zone for reason. We're creatures of habit and become efficient at new realities far too easily. By ditching the dreaded 'c' zone and heading out into magic territory more quickly, you'll be far more likely to get out of your own way and achieve your leadership aspirations more easily. After all, research proves that women in the C-suite is great for business, and it's good for you as well.

 
Remember those two questions?

  • What's the worst thing that could happen if you do lean in?
  • Or worse - what's the worst thing that might happen if you don't?

My goal is to help you win the feminine ambition trifecta - where you make great money, you feel like your opinion is valued plus you are making an even bigger difference.

Vive la révolution!

#feminineambition #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #ambitionrevolution

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

Feminine Leadership Traits - the way of the 21st Century

We’ve all seen plenty of articles about what it is that women do wrong.  Sad to say, I’ve certainly contributed my fair share in that space . Why? Because they get higher read rates from both men and women alike. Case in point, I’ve been publishing almost weekly for one year, and the three articles that have been most popular (and I don’t just mean by a few hundred views, I’m referring to 1000’s of views)?

woman-leader.jpg

(Hint: don’t click on the links if you don’t want to perpetuate the cycle!)

The fact remains that when there is gender diversity in the leadership team – organisations have a better track record of achieving great results including increased productivity, increased profitability, better risk mitigation, higher staff engagement and higher customer satisfaction ratings amongst other things.   

In fact, if there were an “app for that”, it would be an absolute sell out!

The reality however is somewhat more challenging as organisations and governments struggle to meet gender diversity targets, with women hitting up against road blocks, brick walls and glass ceilings of bias, discrimination and resistance to change.

“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, 2015 AFR & Westpac Woman of Influence

Our business culture is pretty saturated with images of masculine leadership as the ideal – strong, decisive, direct and to the point.  Female leaders as role models are still pretty few and far between in business and politics the world over and frequently stereotypes one or two characterestics such as "grace and poise". I'm pretty confident that while grace and poise are wonderful things, feminine leadership is made up of much, much more. 

Additionally there is a tendency for us to fall back on all or nothing thinking - so if one woman makes a mistake, gets something wrong or even behaves less than leaderly - it becomes a transgression for all women, judged by both men and women everywhere.  

So what exactly is it that women bring to the table that appears to add such great value? What do women do right – not wrong?  What are these characteristics/traits/values? And are they limited to only women?   We’re pretty focused on “fixing the problem” but the reality is perhaps these characteristics should instead be highly sought after by both men and women.

The Athena Doctrine - by John Gerzema & Michael D’Antonio explores a bunch of characteristics that are traditionally seen as the domain of the feminine, are great for solving problems in business, and are also seen by younger generations of future leaders as highly desirable.

“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

Why? Because we live in a world that is increasingly global, interconnected, social, transparent and interdependent. This new world needs long term solutions, collaborative strategies and joined up thinking.  These traits are more than a simple preference. In fact it would appear they are more in the needs/must category.  So the traits/skills/characteristics that operate well in this new joined up global economy include:

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Collaborating
  • Adapting
  • Promoting a positive culture where purpose and profits co-exist
  • Inclusive decision-making and
  • Nurturing of relationships.

As you can see, anyone can do these things - men and women alike. They are not gender specific but more traditionally aligned with the feminine. There is an interesting interview with Janet Crawford on Forbes that highlights feminine leadership traits and how they contribute to great leadership and innovation if you want to know more.

So what can you do?

Do you remember in a recent article on negotiation and bias, we learned that when women are told that good negotiators require listening, communication and emotional intelligence, they outperformed the men in negotiating in mixed pairs?

So maybe if we remind ourselves that the traits and skills that women use more naturally are highly desirable as leadership traits, we'll be more likely to want to put our hand up to lead, to lean in and to ride out the initial discomfort and resistance to change from others.

Feminine leadership traits are alive and well and should be encouraged rather than torn down, allowed to flourish rather than trying produce little “mini me’s”, and also allowed to be diverse rather than limited to simply grace and poise under pressure.

So next time you read articles about what women do wrong, remind yourself again of what exactly is it that women do right – and that it’s not just great for women, but great for business and community too.  

Your thoughts?  Comments below.

If you like this article, please pay it forward by sharing it with your network by clicking the little sharing icon below.

 


  •  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

Eight insights to help you negotiate the divide between "nice girl" and "hard nosed b*tch"

“Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
― Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Over the past few months nearly every single one of my clients has asked for advice on negotiation and the irony is that several of my clients are negotiation experts in and of their own right!   

This got me thinking. Why is it that these women don’t like negotiating? It can’t be that they aren’t good at it because these particular women are highly sought after dispute resolution experts  and do really well advocating for others.  What else might be going on?

Is it because there is a social stigma attached to negotiating for yourself? Is it because women are perceived as greedy if and when we do, and greed is associated with appetite?

Possibly and probably. Anyone who is anyone knows that appetite and women are two words that don’t go together comfortably in a sentence even in this day and age.

But when we are going after big career or entrepreneurial goals our appetites will show whether we like it or not. If we want something hard enough it’s difficult to hide it! And neither we should.

“Victor Ciam of Remington fame - he liked the razor so much he bought the company. Big goals require big appetites!”

My expertise is in decoding the differences between male and female brain biology and interpreting how that may play out in a work environment. For example, in general women are more risk averse, which plays out with many entrepreneurial women starting with lower goals and those in corporates wanting to see more evidence of risk mitigation strategies or research done. 

The benefit of having a brain that scans for risk is obvious – it’s a survival, "playing it safe" mechanism - and frequently good for business. But the down side of having a brain that constantly scans for risk is exactly that. When we feel uncertain, underprepared or under threat, the risk part of our brain will kick into overdrive and slow things down, keep us playing small, and keep us in the “comfort zone” of safe.

So here are eight interesting insights about women, perception and negotiation that might just blow your mind or at least help you navigate the divide far more easily.

1.     Take ownership

We need to take ownership of the fact that we avoid negotiating for ourselves.

Men negotiate four times more frequently and when we do negotiate we ask for 30% less than men – according to Linda Babcock, a professor of economics at Carnegie Mellon University and the author of Women Don’t Ask

Wow!  Really? Yes really. 

In the past year I’ve spoken with many an HR manager and recruiter. They definitely agree with this observation that women ask for raises less frequently and also ask for less when they do ask. Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In refers to this research along with Katty Kay and Claire Shipman in The Confidence Code.

We need to own this piece of the puzzle when reflecting on getting ahead - and do something about it.

2.     It’s easier and possibly more beneficial to have someone else do your negotiation for you. 

Hannah Riley Bowles, a professor at the Center for Public Leadership and Faculty Director of Women & Power at the Harvard Kennedy School, says that

"Women do substantially better negotiating for others than for themselves,"

"It's got to do with social stereotypes."

And the reality, according to Bowles, is that when we as women do negotiate hard for ourselves, there is a social cost as we come out looking less likeable.  And once again we’re back to navigating that double edged sword between “nice girl” and “hard nosed b*tch”. 

And while it’s not always possible to have a salary broker advocating on your behalf, maybe we need to accept the social cost in the short term, because the very real cost in dollars is undermining us later in life with ANZ recently calculating that the gap in salary over the span of a career equates to $700K. When you weigh it up like that, maybe likability is a small price to pay.

3.     Stop talking up how well you do the job – and start talking up your value

Last week I wrote about the issue of communicating value. As women we frequently get stuck in the mode of doing the job properly and well. We imagine that "doing the job well" is a fast track to success and we polish up “doing the job” as if  it were the end result. But when something new comes along or we start dreaming of something better, all we have is the language and experience of doing the job well and that won't get you very far, very fast.

Carrie Gallant, negotiation expert, talks about leveraging value. Be sure to bring the value of what you offer to the table – context and big picture thinking – and communicate that clearly and articulately.

“Leverage is essentially what you bring that is valuable to someone else, plus your ability to help them see that value.” Carrie Gallant, Goop

 

4.     Change what you believe about good negotiation skills

Tara Mohr, Playing Big, writes about a really interesting study where men and women were paired in mock negotiation. Some of the pairs of negotiators were told that traits frequently associated with women were great for negotiation:

  • Good listening,
  • Emotional intelligence, and
  • Good communication skills

Guess what - in the pairs who were given this information the women outperformed the men!

So instead of heading into a negotiation worrying that you aren’t good at it, focus instead on the skills that you do have (listening, emotional intelligence and communication) and leverage those for beneficial outcomes.

5.     Don’t think of yourself as a woman negotiating

I’m extrapolating here and making assumptions but the following research may throw some light on it.  In 1999 Margaret Shih conducted a study at Harvard of 46 undergraduate Asian women.  They were asked to sit a maths test (traditionally thought of as a weakness in women’s abilities). When the women were reminded of their gender prior to the test, their test scores dropped compared to a control group.  Interestingly when the women were reminded of their Asian heritage they didn’t perform as poorly.

Yes, I’m extrapolating here – but perhaps by focusing on gender all the time, we are making things worse. Focus instead on gender neutrality.

7. Reframe your language from “negotiating” to “asking” and you’ll more likely ask for a payrise

Apparently the word “negotiation” has negative connotations for many women. Another study conducted, once again with Linda Babcock involved in the research indicated that by using language such as “asking” which is perceived as less intimidating, more polite and more role consistent, women were more likely to initiate negotiations.

“Consequently, gender differences in initiating negotiations persisted when situations were framed as opportunities for negotiation yet were eliminated when situations were framed as opportunities to ask.”

Ah the power of language.  Ask, don't negotiate. 

8.    You are not likely to be any more or any less successful than men

In a recent Harvard Business Review article by Margaret a. Neale and Thomas Z Lys they write:

“When both men and women have similar expectations about compensation packages, there is no difference in their likelihood to negotiate. Empirical evidence also shows that when women do negotiate, they’re no more or less successful than their male counterparts.”

So in a nutshell

  •  Do ask. Find ways to ask formally, informally, light heartedly and seriously. But do ask.
  • Instead of avoiding the issue or preparing by reading articles about why women don’t negotiate as well as men, simply go into the “asking” with an understanding that women do negotiate well. 
  • Do prepare - it will help mitigate your hypersensitive risk antennae triggers of under preparing, uncertainty and feeling like you are under threat - and more on preparation next week.
  • Remember that when we’re reminded of our gender we are more likely to underperform, yet when we focus on the traits and skills that are great in a negotiation, we do really well.
  • And finally – there is never a good time for a tough conversation. 
"The right time, while not perfect, is now. "

It’s your career and your future – and your ability to navigate that double edged sword between "nice girl" and "hard nosed b*tch", will be in part what differentiates you as a leader.

“If you just set out to be liked, you will be prepared to compromise on anything at anytime, and would achieve nothing. ” ― Margaret Thatcher


Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution

 If you missed it - The F Word that Keeps Us Playing Small

  •  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

Five things that undermine your ability to communicate your value

At the beginning of the year I wrote an article on "How to be More Fascinating".  I referenced Sally Hogshead's work on "How to Fascinate" and the importance of understanding your own value and being able to clearly communicate that.  

Most of us are really good at describing the job that we do (describing the widget). In fact, let's be honest here, men are even great at describing how well they do the job!  Yet we women (and I include myself in this) are far more comfortable describing the role itself and downplaying our own contribution.  

But what's frequently missing for both men and women's communication is clear articulation about the value that you offer to the success of the organisation more broadly.  

"It's not the what and the how, but the why. "  And if you want to know more revisit Simon Sinek's Leadership talk on the power of  Why.
Let me rephrase - the people who get ahead more easily are far better at articulating their value.

What might that sound like?  Examples below:

  • "Yes, I run the customer care team and I do it well - but as a result of that good work we've managed to drive customer satisfaction levels up by 2 points in the past year which drives customer retention and ultimately improves profitability, and don't forget that it costs 7 times more to attract a new customer the retain an old one."
  • Yes I head up the complaints division and I do it well - in fact just this year we reduced the number of complaints that ended up being referred to the Ombudsman by 25% which resulted in far fewer penalties and fees, plus we also decreased the amount of time it took to handle each complaint which means a significant reduction in costs,  plus higher staff engagement and increased customer retention by 15%. By the way, did you know that a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%?
  • "Yes, I run the events department and as a result of this great work our brand advocacy has increased which we can see via our social media metrics (insert compelling %), we are also perceived seen as the "go to" provider of PD for the sector which is edging out our competitors, plus we've managed to put increased efficiencies in place due to the repeatable nature of our work,  so are delivering better than budget financial results for the entire organisation."
  • "Yes I run the HR function and as a result our staff engagement scores have increased by 10% in the past 12 months, we've seen a reduction in staff turnover which saves us both money and loss of corporate knowledge, plus we've been nominated as an "employer of choice" by the staff which means both retention and recruitment in the future will be less labour intensive." (Once again insert compelling statistic).

Now I've made these examples up, but I think you get the picture.  In fact I hope you can see the big picture! 

It's  not enough anymore to say "I do a good job".  As women we've been socialised to believe that doing "good work", behaving well and doing the right thing is the secret to success. However the reality is that doing good work will only get you so far. 

As an ambitious woman or a "leader in the making" you need to be able to demonstrate you see the big picture and how the work you do completes that picture for the organisation as a whole. You need to dream, to scheme, execute bold, audacious moves along with communicate in terms of value. 

This is not bragging - this is simply smart business. And the reality is that the people who frequently get promoted over and above others, are the people who understand how to communicate in language that the C-suite understands - the language of value.

So what gets in the way of clearly communicating value?

1. Pretending to be someone you aren't: Maybe you took the role because it pleased a partner or parent. Maybe it was something to pay the bills until the right role came along. Maybe you feel like you're in a holding pattern, until something better comes along.

So find a way of expressing yourself confidently and authentically at work - or change organisations. Clean up any "dirty little secrets", be prepared to do the work without your war paint on, commit to the here and now and step fully into the role.  You will be far happier AND more effective if and when you are able to step up, speak out and take charge.

2. Lack of belief in your own abilities - sometimes manifesting itself as "imposter syndrome" or feeling like you're a fraud about to be caught out.  This can be exacerbated by feeling over-stressed, over-worked and over-whelmed - frequently followed by fear of under-performing. 

Find a way to take time out to regroup. Find a way to get support whether at home or at work to help you get back on track (champions, sponsors, coaches and mentors are great resources).  And remember, if famous people like Emma Watson feel like a fraud, then it's perfectly normal for you to feel it too at times. Many years ago my coach told me to take a holiday. And while at the time I thought the advice was misguided, he was right!  I came back refreshed with my confidence and self belief replenished.

3. Not understanding your "why" and the knowledge of what drives you to get out of bed every day and do good work.  

Connecting with your why will not only make it easier to believe in your own abilities, but is also a great starting point for connecting with the why of your organisation. Your ability to see your own big picture, is a great starting point for seeing the bigger picture about the work your organisation does.

4. All or nothing thinking - which gets in the way of possibility thinking, thinking outside the square or parallel thinking.  

Why does everything need to be either/or?  Why not try a "YES AND" approach and see how this changes your perspective making your work a lot less confrontational, less about who is more right, and more about how can we deliver value together.

5. Lack of preparation - sometimes we go into these discussions imagining we can "wing it", make it up as we go along and play it by ear.   The reality for most of us is that we need to do the work.  If you don't naturally think in terms of value, then not preparing is just like the ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

So take time to reflect, to prepare and run through a variety of "what if" scenarios.  You need to talk with others more senior to you. You need to work out what keeps your boss awake at night and you need to do the work. This is part and parcel of a growth mindset - and while right now it might appear you are on the wrong side of a whole heap of work - if it means a bigger salary far sooner, more acknowledgement from those more senior, or simply that you love your role more, then it will pay off in spades.

Negotiation Season

So why have I brought this up now? Because it seems to be salary negotiation season right now. Many of my clients are asking for tips on negotiating and/or renegotiating salary packages or consulting fees.  And being able to clearly communicate your value, rather than describe the job, is critical.

Leverage is essentially what you bring that is valuable to someone else, plus your ability to help them see that value.
— Carrie Gallant, Gallant Solutions
  • A picture says a thousand words, and having a decent set of professional photos for your career progress is really important. 
     
  • It says you are ambitious,  keen to get ahead and that you think of yourself as leadership material. So put aside your discomfort and get some headshots done. 
     
  •  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