A recent Pew Research Center report found that while slightly over half of managerial and professional occupations (52.2%) are held by women, women continue to lag behind men in senior leadership positions.
A survey of US mid-market business showed only 22% of senior managers are women. And only 5% of Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs.
Many women put in the work and achieve strong results yet aren’t top-of-mind for choice assignments and promotions.
In October, we hosted a roundtable with women leaders from top technology companies to discuss why this happens, and how we can help women in their organizations be seen as the leaders they are.
Here are a few tips we discussed to strengthen how women are perceived as leaders:
- Sharpen your physical presence. What does your body language say about you? Sit upright, keeping your hands and arms above the table. Stand with your feet hips-width apart, for a neutral, open stance – so you’re not perceived as either aggressive or minimizing yourself.
Amy Cuddy’s popular TED Talk video shares practical tips on how your body language shapes who you are.
- Use powerful language. Avoid using minimizing words and phrases, such as “just”, “maybe”, “Sorry, can I…” or “I have one small question”. These dilute your message. When you write and when you speak, be clear.
Check out this New York Times piece on Why Women Apologize and Should Stop.
- Maintain strong eye contact. Speakers who maintain strong eye contact are viewed as more confident and credible. When you speak, hold eye contact with one person for one full thought before moving on to the next person.
- Speak up. If you are interrupted, calmly speak up and continue your point. If you see someone else get interrupted, help bring the discussion back on track.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt repeatedly interrupted United States Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith at an SXSW panel – and he was famously called out by Google’s own Unconscious Bias program leader, Judith Williams.
- Build a strong network. Connect with sponsors and mentors, both men and women, who can help support and advocate for you. Pay it forward by coaching and sponsoring others.
Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s excellent book, Find a Sponsor, shares advice on how to identify sponsors and build relationships.
Our Exec-Comm women have drawn on their extensive business experience and teaching expertise to design a suite of programs specifically to help women:
- strengthen executive presence
- influence and lead more effectively
- build meaningful working relationships
How can we help you take your seat at the table?
To connect on Exec-Comm’s women’s programs and get help with supporting women’s groups at your organization, please contact us or call 888.980.0111