For a woman to be successful at work, she needs the right combination of luck, grit, and intelligence to make it to the top.
You need to be born in a family that provided good educational opportunities, you have to battle numerous social and familial expectations and objections to continue working, you must excel at your work AND manage male-dominated office politics – and all this is just enough to get you to middle management.
The last decade has seen so much corporate commitment to diversity; more and more women are being given a chance to climb higher. But still so many great women leaders just never make it to the top!
One of the reasons is that they don’t have the social skills to play in the big boy’s club. It’s no secret that beyond a certain level, promotions don’t happen based on CVs. Rapport, networking, and reputation play a pivotal role in opening exciting new doors.
So much has been discussed about building a personal brand, that I doubt there is anyone in the corporate world who doesn’t understand and acknowledge its importance.
But what does it entail exactly? And why do women need it to break the glass ceiling?
Simply put, marketing yourself and your career as a brand is personal branding. It’s promoting yourself and establishing a certain reputation for yourself.
But building a brand is a delicate and long process. Unlike big organisations, you can’t just hire a PR agency to do it for you. While there are professionals who can help you acquire the right skills to take on your self-branding exercise, the actual work has to be done by you yourself.
Let’s look at some essentials you need to keep in mind.
When you think of a well-known brand, there is always a tagline attached to it. You have to find yours. Well, it doesn’t have to be a tagline, rather a story that you want people around you to associate with you. This is the essence of who you are, and you need to put careful thought into coming up with the right perspective.
We recommend you write down a short paragraph about who you are and how you would like to be introduced. This should not be more than 100 words and must include your professional experiences and personal ideology.
In this context, style doesn’t just refer to what you wear and your appearance. Here we are talking about an overall impression you would want to create which interacting with people.
For example, do you want to come across as thoughtful and academic or are you more comfortable with displaying an aggressive leadership style? Your appearance and how you conduct yourself is a huge part of how you communicate with others around you, however going against your true nature won’t really work in the long run as you might come across as inauthentic.
We recommend you aim for cultivating a style that comes naturally; after all, you cannot pretend to be something you are not for the next couple of decades.
You need to start making connections and communicating with people both inside and outside your organisation. You should also spread yourself to other areas, don’t just meet and cultivate new relationship within your specific department but also explore meeting new people through your hobbies or at non-work events. The idea is to become a part of large communities that can help you in times of need and also promote you and your brand.
Speaking at conferences and participating in events are two great ways to network effectively.
Social media has now become a huge part of our personal and professional lives. For working women trying to establish their personal brand platforms such as LinkedIn provide an excellent opportunity to showcase their talents to exactly the right type of people. Here you can control your narrative and gently push the right messaging through your posts and writings.
Apart from posting on the platform, conducting webinars, online workshops and collaborations with other leaders in your industry are some ways to grow your social credentials.
Many of us feel that self-promotion is a bit fake, some of us are just too shy, and some just don’t know where to start. But, the reality is that you might be great at work and be extremely talented but if no one except your boss and colleagues knows this, then you will always be limited to that circle.
To really break into the big league, you need to create a reputation and the right perception. So that when management is discussing promotions, your name shines through.
If you are one the many who don’t know how to start building your personal brand, then we strongly recommend you give us a call. We are happy to help!
Request for a free consultation by clicking the button above.
2020 is coming to an end and what a year it’s been! The global pandemic has really challenged us in so many ways and it’s been hard for many of us to feel in control as the crisis just drags on. Our businesses have taken a hit but we know that there are many around us who have been hit even harder.
It’s natural then for many business leaders to feel guilty about the hard decisions they’ve had to take in terms of layoffs, closures and disruptions in service. A client of mine had to let go of a senior employee in the US and he knew this meant that the employee had to go back to his home country and his entire life would get disrupted. He was also worried that the employee would no longer have health cover to take care of the special needs of his child. A friend who is the CHRO of a large organisation was distraught when a young employee passed away due to COVID and he felt he couldn’t do anything to save her.
Guilt is an unsettling emotion to deal with. But it’s also a sign that you’re a conscientious leader. While there are many things that are out of your control, one way of dealing with this guilt when it hits you is to re-evaluate and improve the way you approach your employees and company, and demonstrate compassionate leadership in difficult circumstances.
Here are 5 ways in which you can do this:
If you have a small team, it’s possible for you to do so yourself. If you have a large employees base, put together small cross-functional teams to spread out and listen to the wider group. This will help you plan your initiatives better.
When you have no choice but to implement furloughs, reduced hours, or pay cuts, don’t delegate sharing the news to HR - it feels demoralizing, disrespectful, and lacks empathy. If you are responsible for the decision, it is you who should be sharing it. This sends a clear message to not just the people who are impacted but also the others around them and support the morale of the team.
If some of your decisions have gone wrong and negatively affected others, take remedial action as soon as you know or can and do it as publicly as possible. Acknowledge your mistake and then communicate new developments frequently and consistently. Decisions can go either r way based on the limited information that we operate on – you are not expected to be right all the time. But how you own up and make amends is what your team and customers are looking at.
Try and see what benefits can be retained even when someone goes on a furlough or pay cut. Help the ones who’ve been laid off to find new jobs. Provide career transition support wherever possible.
People respond to that. They connect with you and they trust you when you’re being the best version of you. Talk about how you balance your own personal and work commitments. Talk about your own challenges and encourage sharing of tips and resources for managing workload, scheduling and so on. You don’t have to have a stoic mask all the time. Let people know that you also struggle sometimes and that’s okay. That’s being human.
So, to sum it up, it’s understandable if you as a leader are struggling with guilty feelings as you see the disruptions and struggles that the Covid-19 crisis is causing your employees and colleagues, sometimes specifically as a result of your own actions. But if you reframe your feelings of guilt as an opportunity to consciously and thoughtfully make the best decisions possible, communicate clearly, and behave with compassion and concern for both your employees and yourself, then you can help steer their teams and organizations toward better times.
If you want to talk about this, just click on Request Consultation and pick a convenient time for discussion or send me a WhatsApp message using the button above.
Many times, when I bring up coaching with business leaders and owners, they react by saying that I’m doing well. I don’t think I need a coach.
To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this reaction – one, they are not aware about what real coaching is and its benefits, and two, they are not ready to have a hard look at themselves and see what’s not working. They may be afraid of what they might uncover and are happier just coasting along till they are forced to confront these issues.
I always make an effort to explain what real coaching is and how it’s different from having a mentor or guide or just reading self-help books. I also make it a point to share that coaching is not about solving problems. It is about unblocking the realisation of your potential. You can do and achieve much more than what you are doing currently just by getting out of your own way. A coach helps you get out of your own way and go after those big hairy audacious goals.
Ask yourself this
Having a coach is not a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of ambition, it’s a sign of hunger for bigger impact, it’s a sign of courage to work on oneself.
Go ahead, tell me you don’t need a coach…
Click on the Request Consultation button above for a discovery call.
To be truly listened to is an amazing experience, partly because it is so rare! When another person is totally with you – leaning in, interested in every word, eager to empathize – you feel seen and understood. When people feel that they are really being listened to, they open up more as they feel safe and secure and the trust between the parties grows.
Unfortunately, most people do not listen at a very deep level as they are preoccupied with the challenges of their fast-paced life. As a result, most conversations tend to skim on the surface.
The absence of real listening is especially prevalent at work. Under pressure to get the job done, we listen for the minimum of what we need to know so that we can move on to the next fire that needs fighting. So, what’s the consequence of this? Everyone is talking, no on is listening. As a result, employee engagement has become a serious issue in organisations today.
This is becoming a bigger problem in this COVID scenario as employees are dispersed and the conversations are very transactional and brief. Leaders seem to have become busier and more distracted in recent times.
How often are you as a leader distracted in a conversation or a meeting with your team? How often are you as a leader not psychologically present when you are virtually with your team? How often do you cancel, interrupt or shorten meetings with your people in favour of some other stakeholder, priority or task? How often do you make your people wait, ask, or even hope for your leadership? Ironically, now more than ever, leaders need to be deeply and continuously connected with their teams.
What your team needs right now is authentic and unequivocal leadership presence. So, turn off the noise in your head. Turn off the noise from your technology. Focus your mind and your time on the people you lead and they, in turn, will follow and support your leadership efforts.
Now, more than ever, it’s important to take the time to connect, to show that you care about your employees as people. Listening deeply will also help you understand what their challenges and expectations, and gives you a chance to share what your intentions and goals in a way that everyone can be aligned.
Listening is a skill that you can gain from training and practice. And who better to learn if from than coaches. Effective coaches tend to be gifted listeners and they hone their listening skills to reach a high level of proficiency. This enables us coaches to reach the inner recesses of your mind and help you get those deep insights.
In the book, Co-Active Coaching, Henry and Karen Kimsey-House explain the three levels of listening and how the art of listening can be cultivated.
Level 1 listening is an interaction where the primary focus of you as the listener is on your own thoughts, opinions, judgments, and feelings. You relate the words you hear to your own experiences or needs. For example, if we are buying a car, we will be listening at Level 1 to the salesperson to see how the car features will fit our needs and budget.
Level 2 listening takes the communication one step further. It involves paying attention to the tone of voice, body language and facial expressions. As you filter out your internal chatter and distractions from the environment, you are able to tune in to the meaning of the words, choose a way to respond, and assess the effect of the response on the speaker.
Level 3 listening brings an entirely new state of awareness to the conversation. It involves doing everything at Level 2, plus using your intuition and being open to receiving more information in any form that it presents itself. If you get a hunch, for example, while listening to someone, you could bring it up without being attached to it. Without insisting on being right, observe the effect it has on the speaker and be aware of where the conversation goes next.
For instance, you may say: “I understand that you are happy with the results, but I have a feeling that you have something else on your mind.” The response may be, “No, not really,” or “Yes, actually, I wanted to tell you about this issue that came up with our project.” It is irrelevant if you are right or wrong; what is important is the effect on the conversation.
So, there you have it – why it is important for you as a leader to hone your listening skills and how you can enhance your depth of listening. The art of listening takes time to develop, but it can be practiced daily. It builds trust and understanding and contributes significantly to your effectiveness as a leader.
If you want to discuss further, just schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking this link above.
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