Situation 30: DEMEANING YOUR POSITION

Femsy is attending an off-site leadership training. Most participants are more senior than she is. Participants take turns introducing themselves: Femsy introduces herself as: “I am just the sales manager of a small region in an Art Company called “Colors”.

(Click on the pictures to see them in full size) 

A great leader:

  • Has self-confidence, knows her worth and how much value she adds to the organization;
  • Presents herself in an assured manner;
  • Sees herself as equal to her peers within and outside the organization.

How to best handle the situation:

Recognize that your line manager and sponsors believe in you and that you are ready to develop your leadership capabilities to the next level.  Use that assurance to bolster as you face new situations and unfamiliar people.  See the leadership training as an opportunity to build your external network and build valuable connections and relationships with interesting people.

Think about how you want to come across to other participants; what impression do you want to make?  What do you want them to say and think about you?  Ensure that you wear outfits that make you feel good and confident whilst respecting the dress code.

There are some conflicting views about whether women should minimize the use of weak language; word such as ‘just’.  A few years ago Ellen Petry Leanse, former exec at Google and Apple (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/just-say-ellen-petry-leanse) noticed that women use the word ‘just’ frequently in emails, conversations and emails.  She felt that this was a ‘permission’ word that put the other party in a position of authority and control.  Shane Ferro, writing in Business Insider (http://tinyurl.com/zkjutoy), disputes Leanses’s claims saying that women should not have to self-regulate everything that they are saying since this in itself undermines their confidence.

Whatever your natural communication style it is important to ooze confidence, so consider how you introduce yourself.  Do you stand up straight, look people in the eye and shake their hands warmly but firmly?

Learning suggestions:

  • Think about what you want your reputation to be. What behaviours will reinforce this brand?  Make sure that you look and act the part.  For example, if you want to be promoted take actions that demonstrate that you are capable of operating at that level and people will start visualizing you there.
  • Before meeting new people rehearse your introduction. Reflect on both your career and personal life and think about the things that you want to emphasize.  What language conveys what you want to say best? Practise saying this out loud until you feel comfortable and sound fluent.
  • Listen to how other people introduce and present themselves. What words do they use?  How do they sound – confident or shy?  Which people do you take more notice of?  Why?  Try to incorporate these lessons into your own style.
  • Practise introducing other people. What information do you need to know?  What seems important to them and to you?  How can you convey who they are in a succinct way?
  • When you find yourself doubting your ability, remember that ability grows with experience and effort. In other words: “The will must be stronger than the skill” (Sheryl Sandberg); 

Femchallenge:

  • Regardless of what you do, be proud of it and allow others to see that pride! How do you introduce and present yourself? Does your introduction reinforce your brand?

Femcommunity tips:

We welcome your thoughts, experiences and comments on how you would deal with such a situation.

Find more on our website Femflection.com

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