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Executive Presence (23)

Think Less, Fail More: 5 Strategies to Boost Women’s Confidence

In my last post, I discussed how women can benefit from the “fake it until you make it” approach when it comes to improving their confidence levels. Men often use this strategy without thinking about it, erring on the side of overconfidence, while many women end up inadvertently holding themselves back from advancement opportunities by believing themselves to be less capable than they really are.

In SHAMBAUGH’s Women in Leadership Learning (WILL) Program, we share a number of strategies to help boost women’s confidence, which is important in developing a strong leadership and executive presence. Here are five steps that women can start taking today to let others know that they’re ready, willing, and able to take on the tough assignments that can lead to big opportunities...

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Women’s Confidence—How to Get It If You Don’t Have It

Fake it until you make it.” When I wrote my latest book Make Room for Her, that was a central piece of advice that men gave women when it came to the issue of confidence. When researching the book, I spoke with a male colleague of mine who is an Executive Vice President of global business development, who had this to say on the subject of women and confidence:

“The only way you grow is to lose some battles along your way to winning the war. When taking on new opportunities or working in unfamiliar areas where you have little or no experience, it’s important to be okay with knowing that you are going to stumble and fall. You will certainly make mistakes, but in the long run you will learn and grow, which will make you considerably more valuable to others.”

This EVP also told me that women need to keep “putting themselves out there” and “taking the risks involved with something that’s new to them,” adding that doing so starts with believing in themselves. “Women have to know that they can be successful without having all the answers and they have to be willing to fail in order to ultimately succeed,” he said.

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What Men Can Learn From Women

In my last post, I shared some strategies on how organizations can engage men in advancing more women into leadership positions. With that general background in mind about the important role that men can play in helping boards and executive teams achieve more gender-balanced leadership, let’s shift our attention now to considering why men and organizations should care about women’s leadership.

The primary reasons are first, men want to be part of successful organizations, and second, organizations need to be competitive to succeed. Simply put, research has proven that a balanced leadership team leads to better business outcomes. Top-performing organizations recognize the value of having women on their executive teams in addition to a wider spectrum of diverse thinking, styles, and backgrounds. This is true from a business perspective as well as a leadership advantage.

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How Carly’s CEO Style Helped Her Win the Republican Debate

A record number of viewers tuned into last week’s Republican debate. While prior to the latest contest Donald Trump had steadily held a significant lead, many pundits agree that after an intense three-hour match, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina dominated the floor, emerging as the number-two candidate not far behind Trump. According to CNN, Fiorina’s support rating climbed to 15 percent—12 percentage points higher than in early September. Meanwhile, Trump saw a substantial decrease in support post-debate, losing 8 percentage points from earlier in the month and weighing in at just 24 percent.


With less than 10 percentage points now separating Fiorina from the Republican frontrunner, the question everyone wants answered is: what is Fiorina’s secret sauce that enabled her to climb the charts so dramatically and so quickly? Fiorina demonstrated multi-dimensional layers of leadership presence—cultivated from her over five years as chief executive of one of the largest IT companies in the Fortune 500—offering viewers a glimpse of her CEO style as well as substance.

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Leadership Renewal: Filling Your Tank with the Right Fuel

A common ritual for many at this time of year is mapping out important goals and resolutions. Our roles and responsibilities as leaders call for a strong level of energy and endurance, as well as the capacity to stay consistently focused and intentional. In SHAMBAUGH’s coaching practice, we work with leaders who strive to be productive and visionary, but also creative, innovative, authentic, and balanced. That’s because emotional stability is closely connected to all of the other leadership traits, and impacts the quality of our interactions with teams, colleagues, and everyone who depends on us.

It requires a healthy mindset to lead both within and with others. While IQ is important for effective leadership, you can’t neglect your emotional quotient (EQ), which correlates with your lifestyle, health, and wellness. Translated, leadership is not just about doing, but about being. It is critical to bring a high level of mindfulness to your leadership practice every day—for your own well-being and that of others.

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Not Confident Enough? Reprogram Your Confidence Level

If you feel that you could be more confident, there’s good news: you can make a choice to boost your level of confidence. In my last post, we discussed that having a certain degree of confidence can be one of several important factors in women’s success.

Studies have shown a link between genetics (the “confidence gene”) and an individual’s level of confidence. Since research has also shown that men are generally more confident than women, this can lead to self-limiting behaviors on the part of women, who may believe they are stuck at a “set point” of confidence.

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How Important is Executive Presence to Executive Success?

You may or may not have heard about the recent, sudden ouster and subsequent reinstatement of the University of Virginia’s first woman president, Teresa Sullivan. The story received national attention and dominated the local news here in Virginia where I live.

As for why Sullivan was forced out, a New York Times article suggests that although she is a talented and well-credentialed administrator, UVA’s Board of Visitors (i.e., board of trustees) perhaps felt she was just that – an administrator rather than a leader. The article further infers that Board members thought Sullivan lacked vision and a strategic perspective, didn’t possess the “mettle” necessary to make tough decisions, and didn’t fit their image of a chief executive. But after numerous on-campus protests and a significant social media backlash, the Board reinstated her. I wish Teresa well in what will undoubtedly be an awkward, if not difficult, situation going forward.

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The Secret Sauce for Women’s Advancement – Showing Up Strategic

Not long ago I had a meeting with a client organization that is working to advance more women to the executive suite. One of the key male executives commented, “We have plenty of talented women in the pipeline who are right at the cusp of being ready for senior leadership, but they’re just not strategic enough.” Our research at SHAMBAUGH indicates this idea that women are not as strategic as men is a commonly held belief.

However, in working with and coaching hundreds of women leaders, there’s no question in my mind that women are strategic thinkers. After all, most women constantly fill multiple roles. This requirement gives them critical problem solving skills and the ability to orchestrate complex situations – two areas that are closely related to strategic thinking skills. So the issue is not that women aren’t strategic thinkers. The problem is that they sometimes don’t come across that way. And in business, as in life, perception is reality.

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What Can You Learn from Steve Jobs?

In every conference and meeting I’ve attended this past week, the discussion has turned to the loss of one of our most admired thought leaders, Steve Jobs. Without question one of the most innovative leaders of our time, he changed the way people connect with one another and how we experience digital content. His holistic view redefined the personal computing, music, animation, cell phone and mobile computing industries, to name just a few. Many say Steve Jobs’ legacy will be “the blending of technology and poetry.”

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Who Are You? From the Words of a King

I recently saw the Oscar-nominated movie The King’s Speech and thought it had such a captivating story that I went to see it a second time. One of the remarkable things about this movie is how it speaks to a central message for all aspiring leaders. It is essentially about bridging the gap between who you think you are and who you want to be.

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