You know that woman who walks into the room, delivers a message and everyone’s eyes are glued to her, listening to every word? She stands tall, even if she’s 5’2 in height. She commands attention and respect when she speaks, not because of the volume of her voice, but the confidence and energy behind it.
This woman has what’s called leadership presence. It’s one of the key missing ingredients for women striving to advance. We surveyed 25 rising women leaders and found that 65% identified leadership presence as a skill they are most eager to develop. Why? Because they know it will help them achieve the respect they deserve.
Here are few tips a woman can follow to accelerate your personal development.
Every client we see struggles with self-confidence, and that’s both men and women. Yet women tell themselves “I wasn’t good enough,” whereas a man often blames a failure on an external factor unrelated to himself.
Confidence is the underlying issue permeating all of leadership presence. So, what do you do about it?
- Become more aware of how it gets in your way and how other people see you. Self-awareness is fundamental. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback on how you come across at work. Get a pulse for how you are being received by others.
- Establish check-ins on what you’re feeling and thinking. Become aware of that nasty inner critic that cripples confidence with, “I messed up again!” Reframe those interpretations to more positive ones: “That was a great learning experience.” Put that inner critic to bed.
- Build your confidence through small wins, which will also build credibility and enhance your reputation. Becoming more aware of how you sabotage your self-worth is the biggest step to overcoming a self-confidence issue. In the meantime, “fake it until you become it.”
Establish Your Unique Voice:
As women, we don’t need to sound like men. We need to develop our own voice and point of view.
- Some women speak in a tone and manner that disempowers their message. They sound young and inexperienced with a soft, high-pitched voice. One 36-year-old smart and capable woman we coached literally sounded like a 15-year-old girl. And she had no awareness that this was impacting her credibility. Record your voice and videotape presentations. See and hear how you come across to your audience.
- Watch the language you use. Get rid of the “I’m so sorry…” Pay attention to how many times you apologize and ask yourself whether an apology is really necessary, or if it’s a bad habit you need to break.
- Eliminate the doubt when delivering a message. Instead of starting off with, “Maybe we can try it this way…” shift to, “I recommend this approach.” You will notice that your words have more impact!
- Practice, practice and more practice. Not in your head, but out loud. Practice in the mirror .
- and ask for feedback from people you trust. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
This encompasses how you hold yourself and how you feel in your body. Women have been socialized to fit in. It’s time for that to change. That 5’2 tall woman who commands a room — what’s she doing that makes her stand out? She’s comfortable in her own skin, proud of who she is, and what she believes in.
When standing, check your posture. Bring your shoulders back and hold your head high. Imagine the top of your head being pulled up to the sky, elongating yourspine.
- When sitting, take up space. If you’ve been invited to the table, you belong there. Don’t wrap yourself in a ball with hunched shoulders, crossed arms and legs. Put both feet on the floor, open your chest. This allows your breath to flow more fully and your voice to sound more confident.
- When meeting someone, look them directly in the eye. This conveys self-assurance.