Double Standards For Women

Q: If a man is assertive and speaks out strongly that seems ok. But if I do the same as a female leader I’m considered aggressive or even emotional. How do I deal with these double standards and have executive presence?

A: Infuriating isn’t it! The EP strategies below have been useful for other senior women and you could add them in to what’s working for you already.

Exercises:

  1. Be clear why you got the job. Yes you need to flex and grow in a new role but don’t squash the assets that made you successful in the first place. Do you know what they are? Are you clear about your own brand, vision and values? Don’t get lost. Don’t make the mistake of needing to be liked. There are huge advantages of being a senior woman at work. What can you do to achieve results in your own way?
  2. Can you make an asset of being different? At first, you can go in with a disruption strategy, but normally it’s easier to connect to ‘The Tribe’ by fitting in and biding your time a little to win their confidence and work out the lie of the land. Then, you can dial up the assets that make you different and useful to the business. That might be your culture, your style or different knowledge and perspective.
  3. Calibrate your reactions. The harsh reality is that in traditional work cultures senior women need to be calmer and more measured in their delivery than men. Do you think you need to dial down your behaviour, choose your moments or just ignore the feedback? Check you have a strong positive physicality. It communicates gravitas and executive presence fast. In particular, work on a lower, more resonant voice – high pitched, light voices can sound like whining and many older men can’t even hear voices on a high frequency. Of course, using wry humour can be a more effective way to diffuse a situation or make your point. Could you mix more of this in?
  4. Come to the forefront on the tough issues. You can score big on executive presence if you communicate strongly when there’s a big issue that the team are finding difficult to solve. Choose your moment and issue, have all your facts and figures in place to make the case strongly. Be savvy with socialising your recommendation ahead of the big meeting or presentation. And follow up with key players.

To be coached on the HOW of developing your executive presence and gravitas for your own situation do give us a ring. We develop bespoke courses for individuals or groups of all sexes, ages and cultures.

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