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Your Leadership Identity: Do You Play the Game to Win?

This article is part of our women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to refer back to the previous article of this series, on the power of verbal presence in shaping your leadership identity.


What comes to mind when you think of the word “business?”

a) A chess match or sport where people are playing to win

b) An event where people come together and collaborate

c) Both a and b

d) I don’t really think about it, I’m too busy

If you answered C, you’re correct. Business and the workplace in general, are both a grounds for collaboration and teamwork, but also competition.

According to Dr. Lois Frankel, “the workplace is a game. It has rules, boundaries, winners, and losers. Not only is it a game, but the rules of the game change from organization to organization and from department to department within an organization.”

Many women don’t view business or the workplace in this way. Instead they view it as a collaborative set of events, where people are coming together for a big goal or a great cause. While this may very well be the case in your organization or department – it’s not the only thing going on.

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Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Your Verbal Presence

This article is part of our women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to refer back to the previous article of this series, on the power of visual presence in shaping your leadership identity.

Think about last week at the office.  If you’re like most, you probably:

  • Sent and received a minimum of 100 emails per day.
  • Sent and received dozens of voicemails.
  • Took many calls in your car or from your cell phone.
  • Were on multiple conference calls and webinars, plus daily meetings.
  • Commented on various social and professional sites, like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.
  • Instant messaged, texted, Skyped, and Google Voiced.  (If you have children, you were probably checking on their social media, texting, and Skype activities.)

In today’s business world, the methods, the speed, and the sheer volume of communication can be overwhelming. The one thing all of these communications have in common?  They are completely second nature.  And because they’re second nature, we rarely see them for what they are – opportunities to be strategic and showcase our leadership identity through our verbal presence. [Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Visual Presence

This article is the fourth of our 7-part women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D. Be sure to refer back to the third article of this series, on how our actions speak loudly when it comes to assertiveness, decisiveness, and confidence – all traits of a strong, effective leader.


“Research shows that about 55 percent of your credibility comes from how you look.  How you sound accounts for an additional 38 percent. Only 7 percent of your credibility is based on what you say.” – Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

On the surface, those numbers are a little intimidating.  It’s humbling to think that before someone even evaluates the substance of our message, that they are making quick judgments about us based on our visual and verbal presence.

Even if you’re a healthy skeptic on statistics, it’s smart to pay attention because this part of human nature – the continual evaluation our environment and the people around us – can help us to become better leaders.  We subconsciously filter information – we accept what we perceive as credible and release the rest – and yes, that “credibility filtering” mechanism initially includes paying close attention to how others look and how they sound.

When it comes to visual presence, a little fine tuning can go a long way in making an immediate impact on your leadership identity, and pave the way for others to truly value the substance of your message.  I’ve found that working on these “outside” attributes can give us momentum for the work that we’re doing on the “inside.”

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Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Your Actions

This article is the third of our 7-part women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity, based on principles from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, by Lois Frankel, Ph.D.  Be sure to refer back to the second article of this series, for practical ways you can actively cultivate your brand and shine a light on your expertise.

No doubt you’ve heard the saying, “Your actions speak so loudly that I can’t hear a word you’re saying.” In this article, we’re going to cover how you act, or those self-initiated behaviors that speak to your level of assertiveness, decisiveness, and confidence – all traits of a strong, effective leader.

Taking some wisdom from Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, Dr. Lois Frankel describes it this way:

“Success in the world of business depends on your ability to know your part and how to play it . . . we are judged by whether we understand the nuances of what it means to act professionally. [There are] subtle, stereotypical ways in which women behave that [can] contribute to an overall impression of their being less competent than they really are.”

Your job in developing your leadership identity is to become acutely aware of your actions – with colleagues, direct reports, and senior leadership.  What are they saying about you?  Are they saying you have confidence and future leadership abilities, or are they saying you aren’t quite ready yet for the big time? [Read more...]

Your Leadership Identity: Leading Through Your Personal Brand

This article is the second of our 7-part women’s leadership series on creating leadership identity. 

In the first article of this series, I defined leadership identity and its importance to your career path, and the seven building blocks for creating and cultivating it.  One of those seven is how you brand and market yourself.

“Branding and marketing yourself” is a fancy phrase for how you choose to project what is unique, genuine, and quality about you.  I purposely use the word choose , because it is your choice to actively design and build awareness for your personal brand, or passively allow others to do it for you.  Your brand and how you cultivate awareness of it can determine what leadership opportunities you have in the future.

One of my mentors, Dr. Lois Frankel, describes it this way:

“Brand names get a reputation as a result of two things:  consistent quality and marketing.  One without the other doesn’t equate to staying power or success in the marketplace.”

If you take a closer look at those two things, consistent quality and marketing, I’d say many emerging women leaders have consistent quality down cold.  If anything, you may be so busy with consistent quality that you don’t invest enough in the second thing, marketing.   Why is that? [Read more...]

The Essential Building Blocks for Your Leadership Identity

In my work with emerging women leaders, I talk often about creating a leadership identity.  A lot of questions come up.  What is it?  How do I create it?  What does it mean to my leadership path and career?

So many great questions. With those in mind, I’ve decided to create a series on this important topic over the next several issues of Impact.  I’ll begin by painting the big picture of leadership identity and its building blocks.  Future articles will give you more detail on each building block, along with actionable tips you can put into practice, so you can create and enhance your unique identity.

First, let’s define leadership identity.  What is it?  [Read more...]

10 Leadership Strategies from the CEO Suite

by Amy Franko

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an executive-level leader or CEO?

I have had the privilege of moderating a panel of well-known CEOs.  The topic was on perspectives from the CEO suite, and our panelists shared insights on their pathways to the top – along with the challenges, the rewards, and the lessons.

These CEOs came from a range of industries, representing large organizations in banking, insurance, and aviation.  I had no idea what twists and turns to expect in the conversation, as moderating a panel of major CEOs was a new experience for me.  I think we all have our pre-conceived ideas of what a CEO may be like, and this group was a breath of fresh air – candid, approachable, and very willing to share their experiences.

Many ideas were shared, and I’ve created list of some of the real-world strategies that helped them to reach the CEO suite.  Even if your leadership goals don’t include the C-suite, these strategies will still help you on your personal leadership journey. [Read more...]

Add These Power Phrases to Your Vocabulary

Our leadership credibility has many components, one of which is how we organize and articulate our thoughts.  In your daily workplace interactions, become aware of those around you and how they communicate – in email, voicemail, meetings, or conference calls.

  • How well do they articulate their message?
  • What words and phrases are used?
  • What tone or pitch of voice?
  • How are they received overall?

In my work with emerging women leaders, there’s one area of communication that can be especially challenging, not to mention sabotaging – our use of powerless words and phrases.  I see it and hear it all the time, and often it’s completely subconscious.

But when you begin to look and listen for it, you’ll know what I mean.  Phrases like:

  • “I’m sorry…”
  •  “It was a team effort…”
  • “I’m no expert…”
  • “I was just doing my job…”

If you’d like to improve your leadership credibility, a great place to start is by banishing those phrases above and replacing them with more powerful – or at least neutral – phrases.

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Dealing Well with Conflict: Don’t Avoid this One!

At almost every keynote or workshop I give on women in leadership, I usually talk with at least one woman afterwards on how to manage conflict with grace. This is never an easy topic, especially for many women.

We’ve been conditioned to avoid conflict or controversy, and find compromise.  Let’s face it.  We want to be liked!  We don’t want to hurt another’s feelings.  We want to live in a collaborative environment where everyone plays nicely in the sandbox.

A few areas that this seems to rear its ugly head the most are when:

  • We’re faced with providing any kind of negative feedback.
  • We have a difference of opinion, and we’re concerned with offending others by sharing it.

And when we’re faced with these situations, more often than not, we back down, find ways to soften our message, or we walk away altogether, hoping the situation will just disappear.

The result? Those actions leave us deflated and not the leaders we want to be.  (And six months later we’re still rehashing it!)

So how do we manage conflict in ways that allow us to step into our best leadership light?

These tips on developing grace under fire are adapted from Dr. Lois Frankel, my mentor and author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office.

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Getting on the Executive Radar Screen

If you are looking to challenge and stimulate your career, you’re going to want to be discovered as one who has the vision and passion to catapult to new levels. In my experience working with emerging women leaders, the question women so often ask is: what is the right path to get recognized?

Whether you want to make the next step in your career, or leap to that high level position, it is important to learn the necessary steps to be a recognized leader within your company, as well as within your industry.

Your company is most likely looking for “can-do” candidates, rather than “could-be” ones. In many cases, it is a matter of effective marketing, and that is where you have the power to become noticed. Think of marketing yourself like your favorite companies market themselves.  They work to establish visibility and brand equity; they know that simply having a great product isn’t enough. What are the attributes that make their brands appealing to you? It’s the same at a personal level. You have to brand yourself and be known for being the best and having a unique way of doing your job.

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