Practical Strategies for Women to Become More Influential at Work

Whether you are at the top of the corporate ladder or just want to be heard in a meeting, influencing skills are vital for anyone to be successful. Moreover, those skills are vital for a leader, whose job it is to move people forward.

What is influence? At work, influence is the capacity or power someone has to be persuasive or a compelling force to produce effects on the actions, behavior, or opinions of others. Or, put simply, it is getting someone to go from Point A to Point B. Influence can come with a position and title but it is not guaranteed. In fact, people can be influential in any role, whatever their station.

Women, however, continue to struggle while they search for ways to become more influential at work. Sometimes they toil just to have their ideas heard or valued. (Stories abound about men and women who independently present the same material and are often treated differently.)

Here are 8 strategies women can do to raise their level of influence at work.

Develop your drive to become more influential. First, you have to want to improve. Becoming more influential takes desire and effort. If it doesn’t matter to you, then figure out why it doesn’t matter!

Remember that your workplace is not a meritocracy. Be careful not to get caught up in the notion that if you work hard, you will be justly and fairly rewarded. Real competition exists in the workplace. Yes, competence and results are essential for your growth. You still must learn how to promote yourself and bring attention to your excellent work.woman-hand-smartphone-desk-medium

Keep your skills and knowledge up to date. It is so easy nowadays to keep your skills current and continue to learn. Online courses, MOOCs, blogs, books, podcasts, seminars and even YouTube are easily accessible learning resources. If you’re not learning and keeping yourself up to date, know that your coworker or competitor is.

Believe in yourself or what you know. When you’ve done #3, you have laid a strong foundation to be credible with coworkers and bosses. The next step is to have the courage to show what you know and to be as smart as anyone on the team. Women repeatedly underestimate their competence. An HRB article notes that a woman will apply for a job when she meets 100% of the job requirements whereas a man will apply even if he has met only 60% of the requirements.

Solve “important” problems. Women sometimes pride themselves at being good multitaskers, getting things done, and helping others. It’s useful to know that if you are particularly good at these traits that you also run the risk of being given lots of insignificant tasks to finish. You are not rising in the influencing ranks if you are only doing tasks to just “check the boxes.” While you may not be in a position to say “no” when given these requests, you should also look for “important” problems to solve. Do all you can to understand your boss’ or the business’ pain points and then help solve them. When you start to solve your business’ real problems, your level of influence will skyrocket.

Know when to show your agentic (masculine) and communal (feminine) communication styles. This balancing act is also called the Goldilocks Dilemma. A woman’s communication style is constantly being judged. Your style may be seen as too aggressive, demanding, competitive or too warm, caring and soft but never just right. too hot too cold just right

In the work world, it is detrimental for a woman to outwardly show anger. On the other hand, men are given a greater pass when they show aggression, disgust or anger. So the communication playing field is uneven. What do you do?

You take incremental steps to bring your authentic communication style in line with what works for you and your environment. Start with self-awareness then make small changes that enhance your agentic and communal communication techniques. Knowing when and which communication style to show in a particular context will increase your influence.

woman_celebration_arms_up_800_clr_11340Next, heighten your self-awareness around your nonverbal communication. Your nonverbal communication sends many messages about you that your audience is implicitly deciphering. Nonverbal qualities for you to consider are your appearance, demeanor, posture, language and speaking style, room positioning, body language, voice and diction. (This list can go on and on!) Seek to understand how your own components are affecting your credibility; the right nonverbal communication can positively affect your influencing ability when you are able to project confidence, approachability, professionalism, and yes, the right amount of power.

Prep and Practice makes perfect. Like an athlete, prep and practice of a newly learned skill are important to change habits and outcomes. Self-awareness will uncover areas you want to adjust. Practice will allow you to test your new behaviors. When you experience small wins along the way, your confidence and influence will grow.

Hold up others. Make every effort to recognize and acknowledge others at work. Research indicates that greater benefit is gained when a woman receives accolades or is promoted by others than when she self-promotes. This does not mean that you should not learn more effective ways to (professionally and prudently) self-promote, but it does mean that you should find cohorts and champions who are willing to tout how great you are.

With certainty, if you start to employ these strategies you will enhance and improve your influencing capabilities. No matter what role you have in your organization, your ability to influence will be key to your continued growth and success.

Originally published on http://www.sharpheels.com

Also seen on EllevateNetwork, Chicago Tribune, and Business Insider UK

The New Wave of HR Leadership

I contend that now is the perfect time for great HR all over the world to use their collective and specialized expertise to help people and companies rise to their best performance. HR is at a crossroad in its evolution.

Technology advancements, big data, analytics, and automation has transformed the business landscape. The landscape changes supported the first wave of evolution. The first wave for HR was to embrace technology and then collect, analyze and provide meaningful “people” data to our business stakeholders. Many HR practitioners have embraced the rising demand and are deliver relevant data to their customers. The second wave will combine technology, predictive analytics, and HR’s unique strengths. Integrating these three pillars will strengthen business strategy and actions concerning talent and culture. HR is in a prime position to become the hub of a company’s workforce intelligence.

Data and technology provide concrete facts and information. So what’s next? What do we do with all this information? This is where astute HR practitioners will rise to the next level and differentiate themselves.

The next level will produce a competitive market advantage when well-designed “people” strategies and, more importantly, the execution of these strategies are achieved. Smart HR leaders recognize this and know it is their time to shine. This growth will be furthered by talented HR professionals who possess these powerful capabilities not often found in abundance in other areas of an organization.

Up, down and across organizational knowledge – Unlike other functions, visibility and connection to the workforce allow HR to be deeply attuned to the workforce. Organizational knowledge uncovers many components that are indicators of a company’s health. Components such as employee engagement, productivity, knowledge management, change management, recruitment and retention, leadership effectiveness, succession planning, and total rewards are a few that impact both short-term and long-term business success. Intelligent HR practices can influence all of these.

Likewise, understanding organizational behavior is the cornerstone to develop, maintain or change company culture and to decern the changing needs of employees. Wide visibility and deep organizational knowledge place HR professionals in a pivotal position to make a significant impact.

Nonpartisan strategist and advisor – Perhaps more than other functions within a company, HR leaders are tasked to ensure that the entire workforce is successful. When HR’s intent and actions are viewed as fair, insightful and business intelligent, they become respected internal advisors. HR leaders must establish a foundation of credibility and trust. After this foundation is formed, HR will draw on their professional expertise to guide internal customers on the best “people” strategies and actions.

Change Navigator and enabler – Change is the norm for most organizations. Change can be an incremental change like modifying a work procedure or a strategic change such as an organizational restructure or even a radical transformational change. Good HR leaders are Change Navigators who ascertain change readiness and become or help other change agents move forward to meet their objectives.

Perspective-taking and empathy – Competent HR professionals are skilled at perspective taking. Perspective-taking is the ability to see various sides of an argument or another person’s alternative views. Diversity of thought, ideas and opinions are the foundation of innovation and effective decisions. Good HR leaders will take an unbiased, investigative approach to daily address people matters. Perspective-taking is an important element of emotional intelligence, effective leadership, negotiation, and inclusion initiatives. HR has a unique opportunity to display and coach others the positive ability of perspective-taking.

Dr. Annie McKee’s insightful HBR article talks about empathy, she states, “People want to feel loved and appreciated at work – and if you’re not giving them that, you’re not succeeding as a leader.” Effective leadership can tap into empathy. Empathy is different than perspective-taking. Whereas perspective-taking is the process of seeing another point of view, empathy is the emotional understanding and feeling for others. The concept of “employee experience” continues to rise. The foundation for a great employee experience is to be seen, heard, valued and understood. Empathy.

Individualized, tactful, meaningful communication – Good HR practitioners listen and talk to people every day. They constantly use their communication skills to influence and persuade. It is often a good HR professional that holds that courageous, tough discussion or coaches the manager how to do it.

Marketing experts are skilled communicators; however, they are rarely required to tailor their message to tell an employee or leader that their performance is less than acceptable or not respected. An experienced HR practitioner does this well and with expertise, tact, and empathy. Meaningful, individualized communication strategies are another area where HR can “move the needle” inside their companies.

It’s a new day for HR expertise to dramatically and positively impact organizations and people. A few years ago, a brilliant (and slightly arrogant) IT department head said to me, “Technology is all you need to run a business.”  My response to him was, “Technology is important and you still need people to develop technology, run businesses, buy products and services, and lead people.” He paused, then agreed.

5 Helpful Hacks to Stand Out in Your In-Person Interview

One of the students in my Organizational Behavior class recently reached out to me for advice on how to stand out in a job interview. I jotted down a handful of ideas and sent them off to her. Out of the blue, I received a thank you that she had received a job offer for a position she really wanted. She said she used all these tips and they helped her a lot. I hope they help you too.

1. Prepare.

You think this would be a given, yet I am often surprised by how many candidates I have interviewed who come to their interview unprepared. Being prepared and practice allows you to easily tap into your mental repository of great answers.

Here are some things you can do in advance. Study the company and people you will be interviewing with. You can glean tidbits about their priorities or likings and keep them in your back pocket to strategically drop into your answers.

Know their business, mission, and values. Their website, press releases, Google searches, and the job description are other good places to find salient information. Talk to people you trust who have insights into the company. Take the time to read your interviewers’ LinkedIn profiles and web bios so you answer in ways that will connect with them.

Plan and practice the key points you want to bring up in the interview. This helps you clearly and concisely respond to questions. Your answers should show how you contributed and made a difference in your previous companies. Being polished and prepared will help you stand out with confidence.

2. Be nice and pay attention.

Be nice to every single person and every time you interact with your prospective employer. Employers want team players. You negatively stand out if you’re only nice to whom you perceive are the decision makers. A little HR secret is that employers often confer with other employees like the receptionist or interview coordinator to see what you are like when your guard is down.

Pay attention during your visit. Make mental notes of your surroundings – the people, the environment, what’s important in that company. One of your interview goals is to connect with your interviewers. When you have a chance to ask questions or talk more, you can tailor your remarks to what’s important to the company. This will help you stand out.

3. Ask this question first.

At an opportune time and preferably the beginning of the interview, say this: “I am very happy to be asked to interview for this opportunity. I was curious to know what about my background and experience made you invite me in to interview?”

Why ask this first? You do this to “pre-suade” your interviewer. Dr. Robert Cialdini, the worldwide expert on influence and persuasion, explains that you want to anchor your interviewer to start thinking immediately about your positive traits. You will prime him or her to be biased positively towards you from the start. I will add that it also reveals what the interviewer thinks is important. (People I’ve shared this with have raved about this hack.)

4. It’s really about the manager and the company – not you.

Even though the interview is centered on you, keep your answers focused on how you will add value to the manager, team or company. The reality is that they are thinking about themselves and if you can help them or solve their problems. Unless you are asked directly, do not ask or talk too much about what’s in it for you. You can ask more questions when you get the offer.

Keep the interview discussion as positive as possible. Never speak ill about previous companies or management. This won’t necessarily make you stand out but if you speak ill about a previous employer, it will quickly kill your chances of moving forward.

5. Leave positive lasting impressions.

Be as nice and courteous leaving as you were coming in. Send a thank you email or note after you interview – especially if you want the job. Even better if you send the follow-up with something you learned in the interview and a subtle reminder of how you will help the manager. This is old school; however, it still works. It isn’t done as much anymore so it will make you stand out.

Good luck with your interview and landing your next great job!

Best 29 International Travel Tips

Whether you’re traveling internationally for business or leisure, here are 29 practical tips and advice that will help your next trip to be more successful, trouble-free and safe.

PRE-TRIP PREP

  • Enroll in STEP. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • Your passport. Keep color copies and email a copy to yourself and/or store in a secure cloud-based storage. Hide copies in your luggage.
  • Copy important credit cards and IDs – Front and Back. If lost or stolen, you have the numbers to call the respective companies. Check with your credit card company and bank to ensure that your credit cards / ATM will work in the countries you’ll visit.
  • Enter your destination country on the right visa. Each country has its specific visa entry requirements. If you are traveling for business purposes (or actually working), you may think it is less hassle to enter on a visitor’s visa. With global business mobility increasing, government officials around the world are attuned and checking for fraud. You and your company will not be treated favorably if you are caught upon entry, while in-country or at departure if you’ve entered on the incorrect visa.
  • Avoid cell phone bill shock. Add an international calling plan for the time you’re traveling abroad, acquire a prepaid phone, have additional options available like Skype or a local mobile phone.
  • Devices, computers, and adapters. Decide in advance what phone, laptop or tablet you need overseas. If the device stores confidential business or personal information that you don’t want to fall into the wrong hands, think about how to protect it before you take off – locking, cleaned devices, etc. Electrical outlets around the world are not the same. Universal adapters are available for purchase. Sometimes hotels will provide adapters or have built-in outlets for different geographies but don’t rely on this.
  • RFID blocking. Carry your credit and ATM cards or anything with a magnetic strip or chip in an RFID-blocking wallet or case that cannot be RFID scanned for your personal ID, account numbers and PINs.
  • No uninvited visitors. Post about your trip on social media AFTER you return from your trip. Don’t alert unwanted visitors your home is unoccupied. Have the post office hold your mail and a trusted neighbor or friend check on your place periodically.
  • Be medically prepared. Get the proper inoculations, check with your insurance company to see if you have medical travel coverage or buy medical travel insurance.
  • Toll-free numbers (800 / 888) will not work to dial into the U.S from overseas. Make sure you have your direct dial numbers for providers you may need to contact (bank, insurance, airline, etc.)

IN TRANSIT

  • Use covered luggage tags on your bags. It’s too easy to obtain your personal information if you have an open luggage tag. It’s also a good idea to take pictures of all your luggage.
  • Carry-on bags. Store your carry-on bag as close to you as possible. Ideally, store in your line of sight, diagonally, a few rows ahead of you. Store in the overhead bin with the zipper side down or at a minimum with zipper side not up.
  • Keep your medication (prescription or OTC) in the original container. If questioned, medication in original bottles with labels will be easier to explain. Also, if you have a medical condition that may need attention, carry the appropriate medical records.
  • Elude “airplane germs”. Traveling in confined airplane cabins with recirculated air may make you cringe and wonder if we’re going to get sick afterward. Dan Pink, the famous author/world traveler, has shared two practical tips. The first tip is to travel with antiseptic wipes. On the plane, wipe down the pull-down table, armrests, and chairs. Best advice ever, rub the inside of your nose with an antibiotic ointment (e.g., Neosporin) to help combat the germs that you may inhale when breathing airplane cabin air. Although not medically validated, I haven’t gotten sick after any of my trips since doing these two things.

ON ARRIVAL

  • Back home should know where you are. Text, connect or call your at-home family members and/or business contacts each time you arrive at your destination. 
  • Money. Know in advance the currency exchange rate and the in-country tipping protocols. There are apps available this. Always keep a little local cash on hand and easily reachable. It’s called “mugger’s money.” Just in case, it may be the little amount that you hand over to a thief and he/she will immediately go away.
  • Driver pick-up or taxis. The driver’s placard/sign should contain the logo of the transit company or a hotel logo as well as your name. Be wary of anyone who has a sign that only has your name on it. Also, if you’re taking a taxi from an unfamiliar airport, make a quick visit to the taxi company’s desk and ask the distance and much it will cost to get to your destination.
  • Be culturally sensitive. Whether your trip is for business or leisure, increasing your cultural intelligence (CQ) will make your trip more successful or enjoyable.
  • Language. If you don’t know the host-country language, learn a few important phrases or get a translation app.
  • Dress culturally appropriate and do not attract attention to yourself. Don’t stand out a tourist as much as possible. Tone down the “bling”, loud clothing and apparel with logos. Go without the designer purses and clothes, jewelry, expensive shoes. They will make you stand out and may draw undesirable attention from people with criminal intent. In some countries, wearing sneakers will make you stand out or may be frowned upon. Dress appropriately in religious regions. This may mean no shorts, short sleeves or short skirts. It’s advisable for women to carry a pashmina or large scarf.
  • Food. A threat while you’re traveling is getting sick and that can happen by contaminated food. Enjoy the local cuisine but be careful what and where you eat. Ice cubes, tap water and raw food should be avoided.
  • Know and follow local law. It’s starts with being honest (not deceptive) with immigration and border personnel on entry and departure. While in the country, penalties for breaking

IN-COUNTRY AND AT YOUR HOTEL

  • Street Scams.  As you travel around, be aware of potential travel or street scams. Here are 11 Common Travel Scams and How to Deal With Them. The best way to avoid a scam is to be hyper-vigilant to avoid being put in a compromising situation from the start. Trust your gut.  If it doesn’t feel right, be confident and stand your ground and don’t worry about offending anyone.
  • Request a room from the 2nd to 7th floor. The first floor is accessible to the public. Fire is one of the biggest dangers to hotel guests. You want to be able to quickly exit by through a stairwell so it’s better to be closer to the ground floor. If you’re trapped by fire in your room, fire ladders generally only reach to the 7th floor.
  • Fire exits. Check where your fire exits are and count number of doors to exit. If the building fills with smoke, you will know quickly how to escape.
  • Hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door handle at all times – even when you’re not in the room. You can also keep the television or lights on. Occasionally, a hotel will mistakenly double book a room. This will alert the mistakenly, double-booked guest (who has a key card) that there is a problem with the room before they open the door.
  • Adjoining rooms. Even if there’s a lock on the adjacent door, do not accept an adjoining room suite. Ask for a different room.
  • Ordering in food from outside your hotel. Ask the delivery service to deliver food to the front desk or meet the delivery person in the lobby. Never give your room number to a stranger. If a hotel clerk says your room number aloud while others are present, ask for a different room.
  • Returning to your hotel. Vary your route. Do not take the same route every time you return to your hotel.

Note: The list is far from all-encompassing. If you have more tips or advice you’d like to share, please feel free to add your comments.

 

The 7 Subtle Signs of “Woke” Leadership

No leader aspires to be called “out-of-touch”, “closed-minded” or even biased. It is sad to say that employees, peers, and constituents often use these words to describe the people who lead them. 

Imagine the amazing world of work if our leaders miraculously woke up and became intensely attuned and stood up to questionable events around them.

The concept of “woke” was introduced in a popular song nearly a decade ago but gained prominence recently within the Black Lives Matter movement. It describes being keenly attuned and aware along with questioning one’s surroundings – especially when disorder and unfairness are present.

Employees want their leaders to wake up to the world around them. “Woke” leaders who take action based on their enlightened perspectives are more respected. There is no better time than now for leadership to be intensively self-aware and awaken to the reality that they no longer can keep their heads in the sand.

What does “woke” leadership look like?  It looks like this.

You care and it matters.

You possess empathy towards others so becoming “woke” matters to you. Making a difference and breaking away from the way things were before is important to you. You believe the status quo, or worse yet, going backward, are not acceptable.

You seek to understand.

You accept you sometimes live in a bubble. Yet, you can step out of it. Woke leaders look deeper than what is on the surface to understand what’s really going on. They are open to hearing something fundamentally different from the story that is being told.

Refusing to turn away from what is in front of you.

You believe wrong is wrong. You don’t turn your head and look away. You don’t rationalize, justify, or make excuses. When it is wrong, you are courageous and you address it.

You know that woke leadership takes intentional effort.

Woke leadership takes work and commitment to do better. Out-of-touch leaders often work without mindfulness or in a state of mental cruise control. Woke leaders will not abdicate or relegate responsibility that should be theirs.

Bring closer the people who give you a different perspective.

Woke leaders know it is risky is to surround yourself with people who are just like you or who tell you “yes” every time. Surrounding yourself with people who validate you constantly may be comfortable and boost your ego but it keeps you playing small. Woke leaders will surround themselves with different perspectives, different stories, and different experiences.

You realize that you have blind spots and biases.

No one is free of either. Woke leadership recognizes that everyone has blind spots and even unintentional, implicit biases. Woke leaders know that enhanced self-awareness allows you to work on lessening blind spots and biases.

You act before the chaos.

The ultimate goal of woke leadership is to sense, grasp, adapt and act before any situation goes the wrong direction.

These were the seven telltale signs of “woke” leadership. Remember, management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things.“Woke” leadership is doing the right things even when wrong things are all around.

No-Nonsense Reasons Why Your Words Matter

Smart leaders know they are scrutinized with every word and action taken. How and what you say has consequences. Words matter.

C’mon leaders, when are you going to get it? With position, power, and influence comes responsibility. We yearn for leaders we can believe in and trust. Let’s have a frank conversation why your words matter.

We cannot read minds

We want to know what you think. We want to know where you are taking us. We know you will make decisions and take actions in the future that will affect us. How you present your ideas persuade us to either follow or resist. Most of us are not in your circle of friends or influence. One of the ways to understand what you think is to pay attention to what you write or say. Your words matter to us.

Turn us into believers

You need to prove to us that you are trustworthy. We are skeptical of leadership. Before you open your mouth or hit send on your mobile device, please check your facts. Once it comes out of your mouth, you cannot take back what you said. Yes, you can spin a message or apologize for a misstatement but each time you do, you chip away at your credibility.

We connect with people who we believe are credible. We follow leaders we trust. Stephen M. R. Covey gave us a practical model for credibility. We look for all four of these characteristics to determine if a leader is credible: integrity, intent, capability, and results. We will assess your character (and whether we like it). We will look deep to understand your integrity and your intent. What you say gives us visibility and clarity to both.

Silence is acceptance

We evaluate leaders by what they say.  We evaluate leaders by what they don’t say. It troubles us when you do not call out bad performance or behavior. If my co-worker’s performance is below standards and you fail to address it, we think you are either showing favoritism, a hypocrite or a coward. We hold leaders to a high standard and we want you to live up to it.

Be careful of your timing and tone

Words can instantly inspire, inform, motivate, explain, upset, scare or divide. Words matter so does “when” and “how” you deliver your message.

We recognize it is difficult for you to determine the right time to comment on tough issues. However, in the absence of your statements, we make up stories in our heads. Science tells us that once we make up our minds, it is harder to move us in a different direction.

Your tone is important. We want to believe you are sincere and mean what you say. We see mixed messages when your tone and words do not match. Tone circles back to your credibility and believability.

Language makes us human. Words have power. They evoke thoughts, emotion, and reaction. Great leaders and communicators have a unique ability to use words to draw us toward them. We hope you take to heart what we have said. Our words matter too.

4 Must-Do’s to Build Your Credibility

Are you an individual contributor, an aspiring groundbreaker, or a tried-and-true leader? You can be any of these, yet, the quality that amplifies your success in all cases is credibility. Your path to career success is smoother when you are seen as “credible.”

What is Credibility?

When you are credible, others have confidence in you because they see you as believable, competent and trustworthy. Credibility is the main precursor to building trust. As we go through our day-to-day lives, we want friends we can trust. We do business with people we trust. We hire people we trust. We follow leaders we trust.

What happens when people see you as credible? To start, people are open to listen to your ideas and respect your expertise. From there on, your influence grows. The upshot of being credible is that you will be taken seriously.

What can you do every day to become more credible? The four must-dos are described in Covey’s four core principles of credibility. They are integrity, intent, capability and results. Let’s explore more how these principles work.

Integrity is More Than Honesty

The foundational core is integrity. People who work with integrity consistently do the right thing in just ways. Their behaviors consistently align with their values. They treat others with decency and fairness. Time and time again when you behave with integrity, you build your credibility.

On the flip side, violations of integrity are the biggest destroyers of credibility. In recent years, we’ve seen many cases of high-profile people who had major lapses in integrity. Remember these famous people who were on top of the world and fell hard and fast from grace? Tiger Woods, Lance Armstrong, Anthony Weiner, and Martha Stewart. Even if you’re not famous, when your integrity is suspect, you may find yourself paying a heavy “trust tax.”

Intent is a Delicate Balancing Act

People are smart. Don’t be surprised when people scrutinize the intent behind your actions. Respect is gained when your intent includes bettering the people around you. Individuals whose intent is viewed as mutually beneficial will garner credibility and support.

Individuals who mostly look out for themselves, at the expense of others, will often lose credibility because of self-centered agendas.

Case in point, recently a coworker’s intent was questioned when he misled a senior executive team. It happened when John was a member of the company’s relocation committee. One day, John invited the committee to visit a new site he had located. When we arrived, members asked John why this site was south of our location when 80% of the employees lived north of our existing building. John admitted it was closer to his home. In one fell swoop, John’s agenda surfaced and his credibility was immediately compromised. The committee now distrusted him. Besides that, the incident spread through the company grapevine. John’s reputation turned into someone who only looked out for #1. His credibility was damaged by one poorly motivated decision.

On the other hand, women must be cognizant to their intent and the notion of being mutually beneficial. Women will sometimes put their own wants and needs behind those of others. For working women, altruism is a delicate balancing act. Women should develop personal strategies to ensure their visible intent is balanced and not skewed in one direction.

Are You Capable?

The third core is capability. It is the measurement of your ability to do your work well. Do you have the talent, attitude, knowledge and style to deliver competently on the tasks assigned to you? To gain credibility, you must also be competent.

Competence is enhanced by keeping yourself up to date on knowledge, skills, and trends in your area of expertise. If you’re not learning and keeping yourself up to date, know that your competition is.

There is a challenge for underrepresented groups in the workplace. For women, success can be undermined by unconscious gender bias or the expectations how women should act in the workplace. Ways to counteract these negative pressures are to:

  • Believe you are good.
  • Seek out and take high-profile, high-value assignments.
  • Take credit when it is due. Do not allow yourself or others to down play your work or position.
  • Watch for minimizing language. Remove lessening statements such as, “It was nothing.”
  • Know that your workplace is not a meritocracy. Hard work means nothing without visibility and acknowledgement.
  • Own and take credit for your ideas – do not give them away.
  • Learn the rules of your business’ game and learn to play them well.

Results are Valued More Than Effort

The cold, hard fact in the business world is that you will be judged on results; not on effort. Your results build credibility and trust. You are evaluated on your accomplishment track record. Here are a few helpful hacks to guide you on your road to results.

  • Set your standards to deliver good results, but do not delay trying to achieve perfect results.

Although it may not be fair, women sometimes need to meet higher standards than men. Women are judged more harshly than men on both sides of the success-and-failure yardstick. Keep records, data and facts at your deposal. When results go well, you can take credit based on the facts. Likewise, when things do not go well, you have the evidence of how you are going to address it.

Women need to have strategies to overcome everyday workplace challenges and gender bias. A key strategy is to build (and maintain) credibility. Credibility builds influence and trust. In turn when you are influential and trusted, your professional and personal power become formidable.

Originally published on Huffington Post and Ellevate Network.

6 Ways to Embrace Change to Achieve Greatest Personal Growth

One of the most desirable traits of a smart leader is the ability to view problems as opportunities. Challenges, mistakes, lack of progress or failure can spur professionals to make adjustments and move in a different direction. Setbacks are opportune reasons to disrupt thinking and pivot to new ways or better ideas.

Problem situations beget change, yet change, for most people, is hard. When the need to change arises, how can we move toward it in the fastest way possible?

Consider these six tips to help professionals move faster towards positive change.

  • Be ready and open to thinking differently. Einstein said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”  If you are not getting the results you want and you recognize that you are doing things in the same old way, it’s time to change how you think. Looking at an issue from a different perspective or a fresh outlook may be just the modification to help you find a better path. Thinking differently also means striving to attain a growth mindset. People with growth mindsets are open to learning and change.  Leaders with growth mindsets believe that their own talents – and those of other as well – can be further developed through hard work, good strategies, and regular feedback.
  • Manage your limiting self-talk and perfectionist tendencies. The speed of change depends on your ability to resist the negative stories you tell yourself that may hold you back. Don’t beat yourself up. Learn from your mistakes. Restrictive internal thoughts, by nature, will inhibit your decision making, increase your self-consciousness, and limit movement towards change. If you can resist negativity, you will be able to get back on the path to fast and real change. Perfectionism can slow change efforts, too. Perfectionism is tough to let go because many people see perfectionist tendencies as a positive trait. Perfectionists prefer to be 100% certain before making a fault-free decision, thus avoiding the risk and criticism that may come with that decision. To overcome perfectionist tendencies, push yourself to be more timely and reduce your need for full data and information before making a move or decision.
  • Do things in a different way. After thinking differently comes trying different actions. If your old approaches are not working, be willing to try something new. Shake things up. Try things you don’t generally do. Watch and learn from others who do things better than you do. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t work. Transformation does not occur when you fall into the trap of doing things the way they have always been done.
  • Change the people you listen to. Be circumspect of advisors who constantly give you the same stale or unoriginal thoughts and are not willing to embrace new ideas. If they are like this, it is time to look for new advisors. Search for great advisors with wide-ranging experiences that fit what you need and who come at challenges and opportunities differently than you do. Diversity in your advisors will bring diversity of thought and, most likely, faster change and better results.
  • Be willing to make changes to your team. Just as you evaluate the advice you receive, you want to ensure you are regularly evaluating your team. You need the right team around you in order to succeed. The people on your team should be adaptable, flexible and enthusiastic to learn and do. Your incumbent team members could be exactly what you need if they are adaptable, want to grow and are willing to put in the effort needed. Realistically though, sometimes you will need to change out some members of your team. (Tip: If you bring on new people to your team, resist hiring people who are exactly like you.)
  • Celebrate victories, no matter how big or small. It is all right to pat yourself on the back and celebrate when you have done something well, especially when you have done something successfully that was out of your comfort zone. Give yourself some positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement will motivate you afterward to repeat those behaviors.

If you want change and you want it to happen sooner rather than later, begin by looking in the mirror because the starting point is you. Be careful to not get caught up in your fears, in self-doubt, or in deflecting blame because those detractors will slow you down. Pivoting for change and innovation will be accelerated by your attitude to change.

New Traits of Exceptional Multicultural Leaders

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Advice for the Next Generation of Multicultural Leaders

At the National Diversity Council’s 2nd Annual Multicultural Leadership Roundtable in San Diego in August, I was among five leaders of color who hold executive positions within their organization asked to speak on topics related to multicultural leadership and diversity.

This is a very timely topic. The world is reeling right now with intense discussions around religious conflicts, political discord, and challenging social issues. With all this in the background, people and companies continue to move into new geographies, expand operations, and want to sell in new cultures. More students, tourists, and workers are globetrotting around the world. As a result, the world is getting smaller and leaders are presented with more global challenges every day.

How does this generation of leaders (and the next) navigate through these unavoidable cultural differences and clashes? By developing the four main traits that exceptional multicultural leaders possess.

1. Great leaders resist being ethnocentric.

Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one’s own culture. The aptitude to understand and be introspective about your own culture is an indispensable talent of a multicultural leader. The capability to see your own biases and know how you view others through your own cultural lens is vital as well.

My mother, who immigrated to the U.S. when she was 25 years old, taught me my earliest life lesson about ethnocentrism: “People speak, act and think differently from you; just remember, they are just as right as you are.”

Trusted and respectful multicultural leaders understand, relate to, and can adjust to the perspectives of others. All leaders learn valuable lessons when they are open to see the significance of diversity of thought, perspective, and cultures. Exceptional leaders actually search out different perspectives and opinions which, in turn, challenge them and others to reach higher.

2. Great leaders plan ahead for cultural differences.

Highly effective multicultural leaders wisely avoid minimizing cultural differences and, better yet, plan for differences. Business guru Peter Drucker said it quite aptly, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” 

Leaders who work across cultures know, with certainty, that cultural differences will surface with interactions among employees, peers or customers. The best leaders will plan and help their teams to recognize and adjust to these cultural differences.

3. Great leaders foster personal connections and relationships while building trust.

Effective leaders foster positive relationships and trust. Shrewd leaders understand that the first step to building rapport and trust is establishing personal connections. The challenge is that blazing the path to constructive connections, rapport and trust is unique in each culture.

Great leaders proactively plan and prepare to build bridges, not walls. This starts with asking key questions, such as:

  • Does this culture expect a business-first or a relationship-first approach?
  • Do managers and employees interact in an equal or a hierarchical manner?
  • Are communication styles direct or indirect?
  • How does this culture value time?
  • How are decisions made and executed?
  • How do we move these diverse groups closer together?

Forging trust is a difficult and fragile concept, even in one’s own culture. Doing it in another culture takes a tremendous amount of knowledge and effort.

4. Great leaders have high cultural intelligence (CQ). 

Successful multicultural leaders have high cultural intelligence (CQ), which is the capability to relate to and work effectively across cultures. The concept of cultural intelligence was developed by the work done by Ang and Van Dyne (2003) as a research-based way of measuring and predicting intercultural performance.

CQ can be thought of in the same way one considers an individual’s intellectual quotient (IQ) or emotional intelligence (EQ). These “quotients” are research-based measurements of human competence and capability. The remarkable thing about cultural intelligence is that it is malleable and can be increased. People with high CQ can lead, adapt or blend in more effectively within any environment than those with a lower CQ.

Mastering these key competencies will help multicultural leaders to successfully navigate cultural differences in this rapidly changing world.

Research has also shown that teams with higher levels of CQ are more successful. While homogenous teams will outperform diverse teams if both teams have low CQ, a diverse team with high CQ will outperform a homogenous team by an estimated factor of five. This concept can be crucial for leaders who are reaching for higher levels of innovation, productivity, profitability, speed, efficiency, employee engagement, marketing, and selling into cross-cultural markets. Cross-cultural explorers can take a CQ assessment to measure their baseline CQ levels and participate in training programs to enhance it, thus increasing their effectiveness across cultures.

Developing these four traits will help leaders understand and embrace the value of diversity and be most successful in this multicultural environment.

Originally published on Sharpheels.com/experts

 

CA Diversity Council: 2016 Multicultural Roundtable – Aug. 30th at Ashford University

2016 Multicultural Roundtable

August 30, 2016 from 8:30 am – 11:30 am

Ashford

The 2016 Multicultural Roundtable is an insightful half-day event that brings together four to five leaders of color who hold executive positions in their organizations. Each leader will have their own table and speak with a group of professionals who want to learn more about their experiences as individuals of color in the workplace. By rotating the leaders to other tables during the event, attendees have the opportunity to learn about some of the obstacles diverse individuals encounter in the workplace.

 

Ashford University
13500 Evening Creek Dr. N
San Diego, CA 92128

Hosted by the:

CA Diversity council