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Demystifying Executive Presence

I’ve been on the road the last several weeks with the SHAMBAUGH team, working with our clients’ leadership and executive groups. A common theme has arisen in a number of my interactions regarding executive presence, which is a somewhat intangible attribute that can be subtle to define and awkward to discuss. No wonder it’s an area people want to learn more about! So let’s explore this together and learn what executive presence is, why it’s important, and how you can show up with it.

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An Important Part of the Equation for Your Women’s Leadership Strategy

It’s been a busy whirlwind of speaking engagements these past few weeks, where I’ve discussed what I refer to as “Integrated Leadership” at a number of conferences and executive forums. The reason that Integrated Leadership is so crucial is that it reinforces the already compelling business case for gender-balanced leadership.

I recently met with Henry Maier, President and CEO for FedEx. Henry spoke just before I did at a recent conference in New York, where he stated so well: “When it comes to gender-balanced leadership, we are all in this together—men, women, and the organization.” Henry’s perspective is exactly on point in that it emphasizes the importance of having an integrated strategy focused on advancing talented women in our organizations. To move the needle in that direction, we all need to walk the talk.

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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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Leadership in Italy – Amazing Things Happen When You Rise Off the Sticky Floor!

I recently had the pleasure of joining dear friends in a wonderful part of the world: Tuscany, in Central Italy. We enjoyed several days of sightseeing and biking across the countryside, as well as eating incredible food and tasting fine wines from a number of different regions.

A particularly memorable experience was a visit to the town of Pienza, where our guide, Pietro, took us up the mountain to a cheese-making farm operated by a delightful family. When we arrived, the owner, a woman named Hilda, welcomed us to what she referred to as her “dream come true.”

As we sat down for a tasting of her delicious cheeses, I asked Hilda to talk about how she made this magnificent enterprise happen. She shared that her dream had been to own a cheese-making farm that would eventually support her and her family. Yet she knew nothing about making cheese. In fact, when she first conceived her dream, she had been in the same job for 10 years and was living a very comfortable life.

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