You recognise her immediately as she walks into a room. It’s a woman who commands authority and attention before even saying a word. When she speaks, it’s a calm, clear and succinct delivery that makes even the staunchest members of the ‘boys club’ take notice. Her gestures (fluid) and grooming (impeccable) communicate as much about herself composure as her steady tone. When you think about women you respect, they likely share this similar terrain.
Now, contrast her with another woman in the organisation – who is a dedicated worker and is highly competent at her job. However, she dresses to blend in; while her speech is fast and peppered with apologetic nuance. She is shaken easily and when it comes to promotions, she is often over-looked. Despite her experience, her colleagues mistrust her ability to step up in high pressure deadlines.
Whilst being skilled and talented is (just) enough to ensure you a job in today’s challenging employment market, it is the tacit yet equally vital qualities that will give you more access to opportunities in more senior roles.
Here are 10 key strengths to cultivate that will help you be noticed as a force to be reckoned with in your organisation.
1. Effective Communication
This includes managing your emotions, speaking in clear terms, listening closely in conversations and picking up on non-verbal cues in others. Reading more, paying attention to leaders you respect and working with a mentor are all things that can help you improve the way you interact with others.
The fluidity of your movements implies self-possession. Scurrying about, hunching shoulders and jerky, nervous gestures can signal that you are overwhelmed and not in control of your time. To improve this, walk with a straight back, take deeper breaths and move at an even pace. Also, try yoga and tai chi to cultivate stillness and grace.
Whether we like it or not, grooming and choice of attire remain important to how we’re perceived by others. Women (and men) who evolve to higher positions take care of the detail. That means carefully chosen jewellery and accessories, polished shoes, beautiful tailoring and well-styled hair. If you think nothing of running out the door with a wet bun, know that while it won’t affect your employment, on a more subconscious level it may affect your promotion.
The ability to remain unswayed in times of crisis and stand your ground when you believe in something are the founding pillars of leadership. Easily caving to pressure from others implies a lack of emotional maturity and erodes trust others in more senior roles may place in you. To build up your emotional strength, practice voicing your opinion, defending a position you hold and trusting your instincts – even when others may seem in opposition.
Too many perfectly capable women minimise their presence through insecurity and self doubt – while their male colleagues walk around as if they’re bullet-proof. To play on an equal playing field, you too need to assume that you are ten feet tall and made of steel – after all, aren’t you? Will it in your next meeting and see the quality of your interactions change.
Overworking can be a sign of inefficiency, rather than tenacity. Good female leaders know that the quality of their work is directly affected by the levels of satisfaction they experience in other areas of their life. So they regularly make time to invest in health, family and social life. To do the same, improve your systems, get support where needed and delegate to ensure more gets done in less time.
Success is dependent on good relationships. Empathy and care will enable you to relate better to your staff, clients and upper management. It means being able to see things from their point of view, reaching out where needed and offering the right type of support.
8. Strategic Thinking
Leaders always have vision, a plan and an execution strategy. Their actions are organised and well thought out. If you have been indulging in reactive, erratic or confused decision making, you can improve through the use of mind maps, diagrams and lists to give scope and perspective to your ideas.
Female leaders want to succeed. Ambition is synonymous with drive and motivation – and it doesn’t have to be the pushy, aggressive narrative it has become associated with lately. Why not view it as a heart-led desire to add value to your community through doing your best work.
10. Firm Networks
As said previously, leaders are exceptional at building and maintaining relationships – and a good leader knows she’s only as strong as her support networks. Never be afraid to call upon the people that you know, have worked with or helped along the way to assist you in turn.
About Alina Berdichevsky
Alina has over 10 years experience working as an executive coach and personal branding consultant. After 10 years successfully running her strategic coaching business “Alina B Coaching”. Alina is thrilled to be the communications manager and ‘voice’ of Ruby Radar – The premiere lifestyle, networking and inspiration site for successful professional singles.