Leadership is about persuasion and presence, convincing others to see your point of view and emulating an aura of self-confidence. But what do those two factors have in common? They both tie back to communication.
The way leaders are perceived has everything to do with the way they communicate. In a male-dominated world, it is imperative that women speak up and demand their place at the table.
Presence is a crucial factor in becoming a leader, especially as a woman. Illustrating yourself as a leader is an art, similar to acting or pitching a story. You develop your own voice and refine your methods by trial and error to create what is essentially an unspoken pitch, but instead of a story, you are pitching your own personal brand.
*Record scratch* “But where do I even start?!” Hold up, before you start panicking, there are a few general tips on how to pitch yourself as a leader.
First and foremost, self-acceptance
SAY IT LOUDER FOR THE LADIES IN THE BACK. It’s not about acting like a man. It’s about acting like a woman. Be yourself and know your audience. When you know and accept yourself, you’ll be able to channel your own personal branding and how you want to project that to your audience.
It can be easy to lose sight of this aspect, especially in a world so critical of a woman’s image. But remember, looks shouldn’t play a factor in the words and ideas you have to share.
Self-acceptance and self-awareness are two qualities that work better together. For my own learning, I have recorded myself giving presentations in order to watch my behavior and nonverbal cues after. You can do all the research you want and give a killer presentation on a new digital strategy, but if you have lousy body language, it can change the whole tone.
Make eye contact and genuinely engage with your audience. Breathe, be calm and purposeful with all of your hand gestures. This will build trust with your audience and project confidence – you got this!
Engage with your audience
Personal branding isn’t just about how you look, but how you make others feel as well. It’s about who you are and how you resonate with others. Strong brands have a strong identity and know their audience well.
Embrace your unique value
Do not ever doubt your own value. I have always said that employees are the greatest asset to a company. Every individual has their own unique perspective on situations based on personal experiences. Develop these opinions and prepare notes for meetings in advance to showcase your unique value.
Dress the part
I get sick and tired of seeing advice for women like, “dress for the job you want” and “wear a pantsuit”. Wear what makes YOU feel good. All that matters is that you wear what you wear with the utmost confidence. I have always believed it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.
Obviously, be appropriate with your choices. Don’t wear rompers or shorts to work, but I’m also not saying you should wear a blazer every day. Be creative and imaginative with your wardrobe. You can always find a way to project your individuality and brand through your choice of clothing.
Think before you speak
There have been situations where a colleague or client spoke with haste and I could physically feel myself putting a foot in my mouth for them. Ouch, it’s not fun for anyone involved. Choose your words carefully and keep your ultimate objectives for communication in mind. Be deliberate, take your time and don’t rush to deliver the message.
Make declarative statements when stating an opinion. A common theme I have noticed, especially among women, is saying their opinion in the form a question as if asking for permission. Declare your point of view and be confident in your opinions.
Exercise that wit, girl
Studies have shown that two of the most desirable traits in leadership are a strong work ethic and a good sense of humor. Not only does a sense of humor show intelligence and wit, but it diffuses tension and builds trust.
Good news for those of you who don’t think you have a sense of humor (you do), it’s a skill that can be learned.
The main ingredient to be successful with these tips is YOU. Okay, ladies now let’s get in formation and create a better future for our fellow queens. In the end, you’re more than capable. More importantly, you are worth it.
Have you had to pitch yourself as a leader? Do you have a personal brand image you work into your communication style? Comment your experiences and advice below!