Advancing Your Career With Leadership Presence, GHC 2013

Signature pose of "Power"
Credit: Flickr / Isai Zepeda

Workshop by Pat Kirkland.

Panel of CEOs, woman waited 17 minutes for the first laugh. She has to work hard to show she can do the job, men know they have arrived.

Presence is the social power granted to you by virtue of how you show up.

Leaders are always looking for leaders. Confident. Capable. Adaptable. Approachable.

How you can affect how you are seen? People size us up, decide who they think we are, then how they treat us.

Exercise with exhibiting certain behaviours:
Predator: Very still, eye contact.
Prey: No eye-contact, fidgeting, smiling.
(I was prey, it felt very uncomfortable and reminded me of some awkward people I know!)

Invisible power game, first 30 seconds is all about non-verbal behaviour. Determines who is in control. There’s a lot at stake. It’s basically the sniff dance between dogs.

It is exhausting to work in environments like this. How do you show up as someone with leadership qualities without playing this game?

We have an awareness gap – we think we are coming across one way, but actually come across another way.

We know this behaviour, predator behaviour: Extreme competence. Condescending tone. No facial expression. Impersonal manner. Over-emphasising words. Interrupting others. Using negative words. Fast pace. Undermining.

Likability behaviours – almost deadly. Avoiding eye-contact. Head-tilt. Fidgeting. Raised eyebrows. Upward inflection. Low volume rambling “and and and”. The payoff is maintaining relationships, but the cost is undermining credibility.

Can be very effective in a bar! It’s not wrong. Just pay attention to where you use it.

Partner signals combine competence and likeability.

  • Eye contact
  • Downward inflection.
  • Still body – huge – signals “I got me under control”.
  • Neutral stance.
  • Firm gestures.
  • Pausing between thoughts.
  • Louder than average.
  • Likability:
  • Smiling
  • Use people’s names.
  • Upbeat energy.
  • Friendly turn.

Payoff: get results and strengthen relationships.
Cost: have to practise behaviour and attitudes.

Women have internalized behaviours and imprisoned ourselves.

Under pressure, we fall into predator or prey. When at our best self it is natural. Gives the example of a woman, a VP, being prey. After tiny bit of coaching, complete transformation. The reason? She had been written up for being too assertive. Undid the effects of that.

It’s about us changing us, no-one else needs to change for the game to change.

Competence: I hold myself in high regard.
Likeable: I hold you in high regard.

Competence without enough likeability creates the perception of arrogance. Likeability without competence gives the perception of incompetence.

Go into a meeting, sit at the table. Have poses for sitting, and standing. Practise.

Gives example of being yelled at, but had trained herself to go to a strong pose in panic. So gave the impression of being OK, and standing strong, even though quaking inside.

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