In order to fully earn the right to lead, there is a triple bottom line that you must master: Reputation, Relationships & Results.
Why? Because your reputation gets you access, your relationships extend your access and your results get you rewarded and positioned to ascend at an accelerated pace.
If there are significant gaps in any one of these areas, your credibility and influence will be negatively impacted.
At the heart of all of this is your ability to communicate both provocatively and persuasively and that’s why today I wanted to focus on three ways that women give up their power when they fail to do both.
Mistake #1: Going into meetings with a commodity level conversation
This is a big one that I see happen quite often where women arrive to meetings with pen and paper but no plan to engage in the conversation at the right level if at all. This has to stop if you expect to be respected as the leader that you are or aspire to be. Preparation means you have clarity around what’s going to be discussed and if you’re not clear, have the infamous meeting before the meeting to get clear.
Use this knowledge to shape your narrative for how you plan to show up in the meeting. Lead with your thoughts where it makes sense or add your perspective to someone else’s thoughts but more importantly bring value to the conversation by elevating the conversation beyond the surface. This can be done effectively by going in with both insights and questions relative to the agenda.
Women who fail to show up in this way unintentionally make themselves invisible and this leads to commodity treatment.
Mistake #2: Not understanding the agenda…behind the agenda
When preparing for high-stakes conversations, you must not only know the agenda based upon the reason for the meeting but you must also understand the other persons agenda. In other words, what was the impetus for the meeting and how is it impacting them personally. Keep a very close pulse on what’s happening in the business and two or three levels above where you sit.
Having a straight conversation with the individual helps, but we know that it’s often what’s left unsaid that we need to focus on the most. Having relationships with others who are outside of your department but their work impacts your department will help you close the gap between what’s spoken and unspoken. Having fluid and frequent conversations with them can give you additional insight and awareness around what’s happening within the company as a whole and how it’s impacting the work that you do. More importantly, you’ll know what’s working and what’s not working and you can leverage that knowledge to prepare for your meeting.
Mistake #3: Not asking for what you really need to succeed
How many times have you left a meeting with more on your plate than what you went in with? This happens more often than not and that could be good because it’s a sign of the trust that person places in your ability to get things done. However, where it hurts you is if you do not either redirect something else or ask for what you need to get it done as well as be clear about what’s at stake if you have to keep it all on your plate. This is common because women often get caught in the double bind dilemma feeling of ‘I’m damned if I do take it on and need help and support and I’m damned if I don’t take it because this may compromise my opportunity to be chosen again.’
It’s a slippery slope that I will not try to minimize because I know from personal experience what it feels like. But what I learned through my own in-the-trenches experience is the only way to manage it is to simply commit to not leaving the meeting until you get the answers to your most pressing questions, be clear around what you need AND ask for it. Don’t let the double-bind thinking trip you up or you’ll end up allowing your voice to be diluted or even worse missing from the conversation.
>>For more insights and ideas on solidifying your vision, voice and visibility as a female leader, download my complimentary e-book “10 Costly Mistakes Women Leaders Make and What You Must Do to Avoid Them.”