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WHAT WOMAN WANT

WOMEN AND THE HOME

In recent years, oversized houses (that are sometimes referred to as “McMansions”) have enjoyed great popularity. Yet, Underhill believes that these houses appeal more to men’s sensibilities than to women’s. Data suggests that empty nesters want to downsize, and houses which suit nontraditional families sell at a premium. Home buyers do not mind sacrificing space in exchange for homes that have features they will really use. For example, home offices, home exercise rooms, or standalone apartments for elderly parents or adult children are all growing in popularity.

Kennecott Land, a real estate development group, created a market advisory board comprised of only women. This group largely advocated for kitchens that incorporate the children. A kitchen of this type would have multi-level counters and open out onto a play area. Another concept that the group recommended was a “family bathroom”–that is, a pair of side by side bathrooms with a door in between. This configuration would work well for parents who need to supervise young children, but still want some privacy.

Another appealing concept for women is “New Urbanist Communities” like Seaside, Florida. These towns are a blend of city and suburb where residents are always looking out for one another. The communities are structured in a way that people can walk to do their shopping. Underhill notes, however, that New Urbanist Communities are not for everyone due to the uniform housing styles and structures related to community living.

The Kitchen

Over time, the role and design of the kitchen has changed significantly. Before the Civil War, it was known primarily the woman’s “work room.” In the Victorian era, new kitchen technologies were invented, and as the years rolled on, architects began to construct kitchens directly around appliances. As women returned to the workplace in the 1970s and 1980s, however, they no longer wanted the kitchen to be a separate, isolated room from the rest of the house, and it began to become more integrated.

Today, Underhill describes the kitchen as the social center of the home. Since open plan kitchens blend with other rooms, kitchen appliances are being designed to be more attractive and unobtrusive. High end homes often have “mega-kitchens” with dedicated zones for different tasks and professional grade appliances. Underhill notes that if the kitchen is the woman’s domain, then men have embraced the sophisticated backyard barbecue as a place to use powerful gas grills and other gadgets.

The Bathroom

Like the kitchen, bathrooms have also been transformed over time. In the past, the bathroom was a room that no women wanted to be seen visiting. Today, the bathroom is a refuge for overworked women. Underhill describes modern bathrooms as a place characterized by hedonism, luxury, fantasy, and self-regard. He believes that bathrooms reflect comfort for a woman, as well as how highly she thinks of herself. Both kitchens and bathrooms are a status symbol for today’s modern woman. In terms of features and functionality, the minimum for a high-end bathroom is a spa tub. Adequate storage in the bathroom is another feature that women prize highly.

The Home Office

When Underhill was young, home offices were cluttered rooms that parents used as in-house getaways. Home offices today are still popular–a 2005 survey by the American Institute of Architects found that home offices were the most requested feature in home design projects. However, they look very different from the home offices of the past. A home office today is very welcoming and for women it represents a way to blend the external and domestic worlds. In fact, the dominant influence of contemporary home office culture is women.

In a home office, mothers and children work side by side on their laptops. This enables women to ensure that children are doing their homework and using the Internet appropriately. The all-in-one printer is a major time saver for women, enabling them to print, scan, copy, and fax materials for every member of the family.

Two essential technologies for the home office are wireless Internet and wireless Bluetooth. Thanks to the Internet, a woman can research purchases online from the comfort of her home office and then drive to the nearest store to make the purchase or buy online. Underhill also describes the Internet as a source of “secondary shopping therapy.” It is possible for women to window shop online and view the latest fashion in cities all over the world. He goes on to suggest that there are certain characteristics that make a website more appealing to women. These include providing entertainment value, creating a welcoming environment, and not requiring users to enter too much personal information. Office product superstores are the example that Underhill gives for an industry that has mastered female unfriendly websites. These are sites that definitely should not be emulated by companies who want to attract more women shoppers.

Home Exercise and Wellness Rooms

Although women use public gyms extensively, these venues are often visually, emotionally, and physically over-stimulating. Many women prefer a dedicated room in their home for exercise and wellness activities. Underhill believes that for women home gyms equate to being in control, while also doing something good for themselves. In addition to traditional exercise equipment, many home gyms have an area devoted to more contemplative activities that appeal to women, such as yoga or Pilates. Benefits of a home gym include no membership fee, no crowds, no discomfort from other people watching, and the flexibility to engage in routines that are as long as one likes. “In-home” personal trainers are also appealing to women because they focus on fostering a person relationship.

In reality, however, not everyone has the space for a home gym. Fortunately, more public athletic clubs are focusing on women’s needs. One example is the Curves chain which offers a “women only” gym experience. Many gyms have expanded their offerings to include yoga and Pilates classes, rock climbing, massage therapists, and cafes.

Home Maintenance

Household help is very common in other countries, especially emerging markets. However, in the United States, most people do their own housework. In fact, home maintenance is an area where women are playing a much larger role. Underhill describes women who undertake maintenance and home improvement projects as “tool belt divas.” A tool belt diva in her forties may have been required as a child to assist her single mother with maintenance tasks, or perhaps she simply has an interest in understanding how things work. Over the years, as women gained independence and went to work, many shared apartments with other women or lived on their own. Since these women did not want to rely on men for help and they were often on a budget, they became involved with maintenance tasks.

Television shows have educated women about home improvement projects, and websites like BeJane.com target female do-it-yourselfers. Most women who embrace home maintenance work will only hire a professional if the job requires too much physical strength or if the costs of the necessary tools are excessive. It is estimated that women spend approximately $50 billion on home improvement products annually. Underhill notes that in many cases, men appreciate the efforts of tool belt divas and are not at all resentful of their entrance into the traditionally male world of home improvement and maintenance.

WOMEN AND TRAVEL

Women travelers are very particular about hotel rooms. They notice the cleanliness, lighting, temperature, color, flooring, size or firmness of the pillows, and whether or not they feel safe. Underhill believes that every major hotel chain has revamped its properties and service to accommodate the needs of single female travelers.

For example, most lobby check-in counters now have a raised ledge below the actual counter which is ideal for resting a purse or briefcase. In addition, it has become standard practice for the clerk to write the room number inside a folded envelope which contains the key. This ensures privacy and helps guests feel more secure.

Underhill interviewed Pam Dillon, a professional and frequent traveler, to gather her insights about hotels and how they can be made more appealing to women. In addition to the room being clean, she made the following observations:

* For men, the gender of bellhops and room service staff is a non-issue. However, Dillon believes that many women would be more comfortable if they could interact with a female bellhop and/or room service clerk.

* Pillows and furniture are important. If a hotel can meet a female traveler’s pillow needs, it will go a long way toward promoting loyalty. Also, furniture and fixtures should be no more than two to three years old.

* It is also important to women to have the ability to adjust the temperature. This should be easy to control.

* For many women, the bathroom can make or break a stay. Warm efficient lighting is essential and some women are particular about the amenities, like soap and shampoo. Bowed shower curtains are a female friendly feature which makes the shower less claustrophobic and prevents physical contact with the shower curtain.

Dillon noted that her ideal hotel room would be customized to her, in terms of pillows, soft linens, and soft towels. The hotel would ideally know her preferences, but she would not want to feel that she has been invaded to get that information.

WOMEN AND ELECTRONICS PURCHASES

Even though almost half of U.S. electronics purchases are made by women, female buyers tend to avoid big box electronics stores. These retailers are perceived as having too many things to select from and not enough personalized service. Instead, women tend to purchase electronics online. Underhill’s research has found a clear correlation between the success of a store and the number of female employees working on the floor. Women tend to trust other women more and when buying electronics, female consumers are turned off by male employees who treat them in a condescending way.

Underhill visited a Best Buy store to evaluate whether the retailer was configured in a female friendly way. He found that a woman store manager and the inclusion of women in the store advertising added a sense of intimacy to the store environment. Most women buy technology and consumer electronics as tools to facilitate relationships and their day-to-day lives, not to accumulate “cool gadgets.” Underhill states that “men buy instruments of technology, while women buy instruments of relationship.” A proven way to sell to women is to create a ready built picture that both display products and engage the imaginations about what is possible. However, the Best Buy store had very few of these types of displays. In the laptop product category, women often make their purchase decision based on how much the computer weighs. Yet, the store had no signs to indicate which laptop was the lightest model. At the checkout line, there was no sign that informed shoppers that employees would help them get heavy items loaded into their cars. This service would be very welcome by women. Best Buy’s installation team–the Geek Squad–is comprised of mostly men. This service might be more appealing to women if there were more female “geeks” on the team. On the positive side, Underhill found the women’s restroom to be clean, bright, and marbled.

WOMEN AND “VICES”

As with the economy in general, women have significant economic power in product categories that are often considered “vices”–gambling, smoking, and alcohol.

* Gambling. Until the late 1980s, casinos viewed slot machines as a way to keep women occupied while men played at the gambling tables. However, the gaming industry quickly realized that they were earning more income from slot machines than table games. In addition, they were making more money from women than men. Women are the primary gamblers at slot machines and efforts have been made to make them more appealing to this demographic group. Slot machines have been themed to evoke memories of childhood television programs, multiple play features let people make more than one bet at a time, and penny machines that demand greater concentration are especially popular with women. Many casinos have also introduced loyalty cards to track customer winnings and often in casino hotel rooms, a woman will be on the television explaining the rules of every casino game.

* Weight Loss and Smoking. Many women have a conflicted relationship with food. Every day, Americans spend $109 million on average on dieting and diet-related products. While men are more likely to diet for health reasons, women diet in response to social pressures. Women make a clear connection between cigarettes and weight loss. Most cigarettes targeted at female customers are long, thin, and tubular. From a retail perspective, convenience stores are the most popular places to buy cigarettes, followed by drugstores. Underhill notes that the stores that carry cigarettes are geared heavily to their communities. In blue collar communities, the percentage of smokers is much higher than in high end neighborhoods. In addition to helping with weight loss, the author adds that smoking is seen as a way to punctuate time and an excuse for taking a break.

* Alcohol. According to the author, in the liquor industry, marketers focus on three factors to appeal to women customers: light, bright, and white. In the case of alcohol, this translates into white wine, light beer, and any product that is luminous, sparkly, or colorful. White wine sales, in particular, have increased significantly among female consumers. Many wine producers have created what they believe are female friendly labels that are often pink and overly cute. A better approach would be to consider what criteria women bring to wine selection. With regard to beer, most women buy beer for social gatherings. Yet, beer manufacturers and marketers have never positioned beer as the drink of choice for social gatherings that center around a meal. This is a missed opportunity according to Underhill.

WOMEN AND SHOPPING

The retail world is very familiar to women, but there is much more that retailers can do to attract female shoppers. Underhill analyzes women’s preferences related to clothing, shopping malls, food shopping, drugstores, and cosmetics.

Clothing Stores

Department store shopping has slowed significantly over time. This is due partially to the fact that women simply do not have three to four hours to shop. In addition, most department stores are divided into small branded “fiefdoms.” This is not consistent with how women shop. The typical female consumer does not identify with a single designer.

As a result, it is not surprising that specialty stores are overtaking department stores. They are smaller, more focused, have better trained employees, and better dressing rooms. Although department stores will not disappear in the twenty-first century, Underhill predicts that there will be fewer of them in the future.

Another benefit of specialty stores is their ability to serve a particular demographic. Banana Republic, for example, split its stores by gender and has outperformed Gap. Women over fifty are a customer group that is almost completely overlooked by clothing retailers, yet this group controls a large amount of income. In general, consumers want value, price, and convenience, but value is by far the most important factor.

Shopping Malls

Modern shopping malls must provide a more comprehensive experience and shopping solution to customers. One example of a mall that is driven by female consumer preferences is The Grove in Los Angeles. The Grove duplicates an ideal urban experience, where various ethnicities mingle in a secure environment. It offers a lawn, farmers’ market, and a streetcar. Underhill believes that The Grove offers what contemporary women want from a mall–a safe form of escape.

The modern mall must evolve into a place where women can do all sorts of errands, ranging from getting a key made or shoes repaired to dropping off dry cleaning and picking up dinner. Malls must be integrated into the fiber of daily life. Underhill believes that adding food, groceries, drugstores and more to a mall makes it more of a center and will keep female shoppers there longer. He sees no reason why Target, Whole Foods, and Neiman Marcus cannot co-exist within the same mall complex.

Retail must follow housing trends. It is not surprising then that urban retailing has been enjoying a resurgence, as people move back into cities like New York and Chicago. At a tactical level, modern malls should follow Underhill’s checklist, which includes clean dressing rooms with ample space and flattering lighting, and a place for men to sit comfortably while their wives, significant others, or daughters shop.

Food and Farmers’ Markets

Women have contributed significantly to the popularity of farmers’ markets. Within the world of agriculture, women are playing a major role. Underhill believes one reason that small scale production and processing of food has traditionally been a female world is because many women love to garden.

The farmers’ market movement has improved the quality of life in many neighborhoods and consumers have discovered how enjoyable it is to buy directly from the source. Farmers’ markets are actively striving to expand their appeal to a broader range of customers. One important step in this process is to bring in vendors who resemble the customers that the market hopes to attract.

On a larger scale, Whole Foods has done a great job of offering a convenient shopping solution to people who want organic and healthful foods. The chain manages the customer experience well, and the overall operating culture is friendly. Whole Foods has become a facilitator for people who want to live a more balanced lifestyle.

Drugstores

Women comprise over 60 percent of drugstores’ customers. Since drugstores’ target customer group is women over the age of forty, stores tend to be structured around this segment’s needs and interests. With the advent of pharmacies in supermarkets and superstores, drugstores are finding that less of their revenue is generated from prescription drug sales. Yet, the pharmacy still drives around 30 percent of drugstore traffic. This results in an interesting dynamic for drugstores. On one hand, capitalizing on prescription drug sales is important and the sales process is becoming more female dominated. Over the past ten years, the number of women pharmacists has grown and now almost 65 percent of pharmacists are female. Pharmacists are one of the only healthcare professionals that an American can consult without making an appointment or paying a fee. Pharmacists are also perceived as being more neutral about drugs than doctors who may be influenced by big pharmaceutical companies.

On the other hand, drugstores are also striving to find new ways to make up for prescription drug income that has been lost to superstores. Home healthcare is one of the fastest growing drugstore product segments, especially among women who are responsible for caring for elderly parents. Another growth area is vitamins and supplements. In addition, many drugstores now offer single serving portions of food. These products are in high demand by singles and the elderly. They also appeal to women shoppers who do not like to frequent convenience stores. Underhill views drugstores as one of the unusual retail businesses that cater to women of every age.

Cosmetics

Cosmetics are sold primarily through three major channels–mass market outlets such as drugstores, prestige channels such as department stores, and standalone beauty stores.

* Mass channels. Self-service cosmetic sales in a drugstore setting are liberating for women because the pricing is transparent. However, this sales model also has its disadvantages. Store managers dislike the cosmetics section because it is labor intensive, prone to shoplifters, and hard to keep clean. There are also space issues. With limited shelf space available for products, drugstores have typically banished mirrors from their cosmetic aisles. Underhill believes that cosmetic sales in mass channels result in frustration for business owners and consumers alike.

* Prestige channels. Many women find cosmetic shopping in department stores intimidating. The prices are hidden and salespeople can also be very pressure-oriented with products. Most prestige cosmetic brands have taken steps to be more “customer friendly.” Another issue with selling cosmetics in department stores is the fact that the customer base is aging. Young women are less inclined to buy makeup at a store that they feel is “unhip.”

* Standalone beauty stores. At branded stores, prestige cosmetic brands have control over the selling environment. Sephora, for example, has reinvented the traditional dynamic between customers and salespeople. It invented the “open sell” where pricing is transparent, selling is collaborative, and all the products are on display.

WOMEN AND HAIR

A woman’s hair is both a fashion statement and an extension of herself. Beauty salons offer many services beyond hair care, including nail and body treatments, tanning and massage, and beauty products. The combination salon-day spa is one of the fastest growing segments in the beauty industry.

For women under 30, hair is a style and personality issue. For those over thirty, haircuts and hair colors have become a form of maintenance. Approximately 60 percent of American women have colored their hair in the last year. In a culture obsessed with youth, many women fear gray hair. Underhill believes that the antidote is a beautiful model with gorgeous gray hair. While hair on a woman’s head is a source of pride, hair elsewhere is a challenge and source of occasional embarrassment.

WOMEN AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

Facebook’s fastest growing demographic group is women aged fifty-five and over. In addition, across every age group, Facebook is growing more quickly among women than men. Underhill believes that Facebook’s popularity can be attributed in part to suburbanization and the car. Both have created large distances between people, but humans still want to connect with friends and family. Once a woman joins Facebook, her behavior is driven primarily by fostering relationships, not transactions.

Among American female Internet users, blogs are the most influential social media. Approximately 42 million American women use some form of social media each week. They engage in networking, writing, reading, and commenting on blogs, and leaving comments on message boards. Social networking and blogging have become informal ways of trading brand names. As a result, they have become an effective and informal means of viral marketing that is a threat to traditional media advertising.


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CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

STRIKE A CHORD – CONTENT DEVELOPMENT

Careful content development with the goal of appealing to emotions will amplify connections between speakers and their audiences, inspiring audience members to action. SHARPs are emotion-triggering elements that should be woven into every communication to engage people’s emotions and inspire them. SHARPs include:

*Stories: Stories stir feelings and help people create visual images in their minds. Stories lead to action. To weave stories into their communications, speakers must first know the points they want to make and how their presentations will end. Stories should make listeners care and be willing to invest in what speakers are saying. By creating a curiosity gap, speakers can set the stage so the audience anticipates the connection between the information shared and the story. Lastly, speakers should draw from their own experiences as much as possible and tell personal stories. Being authentic and willing to share builds trust.

*Humor: People listen when others make them laugh. Well-placed, light-hearted, and self-deprecating humor engages audiences and heightens emotional connections. Humor can also diffuse uncomfortable situations, such as when there is a technical problem.

*Analogies: Analogies help people understand information they might not be familiar with or have knowledge about. Analogies “turn a light on” in people’s minds.

*References and quotes: References and quotes are one of the easiest ways to add emotional components to presentations. They can quickly bring topics to life in just a few words.

*Pictures and visuals: Pictures and visuals, including video clips, props, and even physical entertainment, serve to magnify emotional connections with the material being shared. To be effective, pictures and videos must follow the three Bs. They must be:

1. Big (to be seen).

2. Bold (to be quickly understood).

3. Basic (so they do not take away from the presentation itself).


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COMMUNICATION AND EMPATHY TOOLS AND STRATEGIES

Communication and empathy are the basis of all social and relationship skills, and a core competency of emotional intelligence. Nadler states that the communication competency includes listening with an open mind, sending convincing and clear grouppiceditedmessages, and cultivating an empathetic give-and-take. The empathy competency includes understanding other people and being actively interested in other people’s concerns, thoughts, and feelings.

John Davies, founder of Davies Public Relations, is a Star Performer in communication, and his 11 Secrets & Current Practices are shared:

1. Touch The Heart. Davies believes the key to effective communication is to arouse emotions in people. Emotions are more important than logic.

2. Understand What People Want. He places client’s needs and their vision of success above his own capabilities and asks pertinent questions to be sure there is a good fit and his services can add bone fide value for a client.

3. Find Your Passion. A person who is passionate communicates in a convincing, persuasive, and genuine manner. Davies defines passion as “being your best without any compromise or change.”

4. Find Your Uniqueness. Giving voice to people’s strengths and unique abilities increases self- expression and enhances communication.

5. Read People. Engaging an audience involves being able to read non-verbal communication and discern what listeners are feeling and thinking. The ability to read people and their cues allows leaders to connect with their employees.

6. Acknowledge/Do Not Offend. Davies is cognizant that people need to know that they are being heard and their ideas are being taken into account. When conducting meetings, he never offends or threatens people and creates a safe environment to discuss ideas. Communication cannot be fostered in a divergent environment.

7. Summarize And Integrate. An effective communication strategy to is summarize what someone is saying and feed it back to him or her. After that is accomplished, it is possible to integrate new strategies and information to move forward.

8. Be Prepared. A “Star Communicator” in Davies’ opinion is always prepared. This includes reviewing client goals, researching pertinent information, prepping staff for what they need to know, and preparing for rebuttals.

9. Training And Personal Growth. Offsite retreats with staff several times a year allows staff “practice time” without the stresses of the work environment. Leadership, teamwork, communication, and project management are some of the skills that are fostered.

10. Quality In All. Davies mentors his staff to ensure that all products are of the highest quality. His expectation for his people is that they are accountable, proactive, and responsible for delivering superb work to clients.

11. Finding The “Needle In The Haystack.” The “Needle In the Haystack” is a means to be successful by uncovering what is often overlooked. Davies uses such practices as change strategies, psychology, crisis communication, and influence and persuasion theories.

Leaders need the ability to be highly effective communicators to get their point across and drive team behavior. Coupled with that, leaders need to know how to be empathetic.


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Phone Interview

In The Essential Phone Interview Handbook, Paul Bailo outlines the many various tools and skills necessary to ensure a positive phone interview experience, and a successful step toward ultimately securing a job.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 8.45.20 amTHE FIVE KEY ELEMENTS

Bailo begins by describing five key elements that he believes are the foundation of a strong, memorable phone interview:

1. Be yourself at your best. Bailo notes that there is a temptation for job seekers to bend their personality toward what they think an employer wants to hire. This technique can backfire, as employers do not want to hire a phony person in the end.

2. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Phone interviews are similar to open-book tests, and job seekers should take full advantage of this and prepare as much as possible.

3. Listen, think, speak. It is important to listen to what an interviewer says, and think before responding. A moment of silence will not derail an entire conversation if it allows for a better answer.

4. Be confident, professional, and assertive. Bailo recommends that job seekers exude confidence in a professional way at all times. Also, it is helpful to be assertive about any job aspirations without being too pushy.

5. Be bold, be brave, be done. At all times, job seekers should strive to answer questions concisely and with purpose. Bailo does not suggest dragging out an interview when there is nothing more to say. Being precise and creating a succinct representation will be more memorable than a long-winded conversation.

CONTROL YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Although it may seem like common sense, Bailo insists that creating a professional environment for any phone interview is critical to success. And since most phone interviews occur at home, job seekers can embrace the home field advantage. The author offers four “bests” to control a home surrounding:

1. Best Day. Phone interviews should be treated as big time commitments, no matter how long they actually turn out to be. It is important to schedule them on days when there are no other commitments looming on the horizon or encroaching on time limitations.

2. Best Time. It is never a good idea to schedule a phone interview too early, during meal times, or at the very end of the business day. It is best to pick a time that is most conducive to productive work.

3. Best Room. To create a professional and memorable interview, it is helpful to pick an area that allows for these emotions to flourish. Avoid rooms with heavy noise, or consistent distractions.

4. Best Phone. Bailo stresses that job seekers should avoid using a cell phone on phone interviews, as moments of wireless interruptions or loss of service can send an unprofessional message. It is best to use a landline whenever possible.

In addition, basic preparations such as having company research easily within reach, having a copy of personal resumes on hand, and turning off any and all technology that could cause disruptions (including TV, radio, and fax machines) can make the difference between a successful phone interview and an unprofessional phone conversation. Potential employers cannot see those in a phone interview, but they can hear very clearly. Bailo recommends eliminating any background noise before beginning a phone interview, and reacting quickly if any unexpected noises occur.


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WHAT GOOD LEADERS ACTUALLY DO

There is an age-old debate about whether great leaders are born or made. But both the nature and nurture sides of this debate misunderstand leadership as a fixed state reached after study and practice transforms an individual into a leader. Today’s leaders, however, see environments and people freshly, as if for the first time. They question everything continually, even the very nature of leadership. This is a big change from the older style of top-down, authoritarian leadership.

Modern leaders genuinely believe in themselves, and through this authentic self-belief derive the confidence and legitimate authority that encourages people to follow them. They remain confident in the face of risk because they are able to calculate a risk/benefit balance that tells them when to act. They balance strong determination with a flexibility that lets them change course.

Communication and Expectation

Good leadership depends on good communication. Dale Carnegie found that effective leaders open difficult conversations with an abundance of praise. In fact, he advised giving praise lavishly and freely.

In contrast, constructive criticism should be offered with great care. Good leaders often begin critiques with praise and honest appreciation. They call attention to people’s mistakes obliquely and often talk about their own mistakes before criticizing others. They follow up by providing praise at even slight signs of improvement. Indeed, Carnegie suggested praising without delay, saying,

“Providing someone with a reputation to live up to can be the best way of inspiring peak performance.”


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Leading With Presence- Life Skills By Anubha

Dynamic leaders–leaders who have presence–are made, not born. This applies to both men and women. Anyone can develop and improve his or her leadership skills to become a more authentic leader whom others want to follow.

However, being in a position of leadership can be particularly challenging for some women, given the cultural stereotypes and gender typing that pervades the business world. The rules for women are different, and more taxing, than those for men. For example, where a man might be viewed as a dynamic leader, a woman would be viewed as too aggressive. Being a woman has both disadvantages and advantages in terms of leadership presence. One key to success is for women to tune in to the organizational climate and make adjustments so that disadvantages are minimized and advantages are maximized.

For both men and women, projecting strength and decisiveness during difficult times is a hallmark of leadership presence. However, women are culturally expected to be sympathetic in difficult situations. In actuality, this is an opportunity for women to demonstrate leading with presence by showing empathy, while at the same time helping others to navigate change. Many female leaders have effectively used compassion to win over associates in challenging times, thereby building trust and engaging their organizations.

Understanding the audience (or reading the room) is a critical component of leading with presence. It can come through research and practice at developing people skills and emotional intelligence, or it may be a more natural capability. Women can better connect with people and inspire confidence in their own leadership by:

*Developing self-awareness.

*Paying attention to body language.

*Tailoring presentations to the audience.

*Looking for ways to build connection rather than “preach.”

For many people, public speaking is their biggest fear. This is often true with women, simply because in general they have not been openly welcomed to speak their minds in the business world. However, confident public speaking is another skill that can be developed; it comes with practice, practice, and more practice.

Speaking with presence begins with understanding the audience and then presenting to them in a way that facilitates connection. Greeting people ahead of time, listening before speaking, and storytelling are all techniques for building a relationship with an audience that leads to a more productive presentation.

Artful listening is at the heart of authentic leadership. It means entering the conversation without a personal agenda, being open minded to others’ opinions, and paying attention to all the unspoken cues (like body language) coming from the audience. While the gender stereotype presents women as good listeners, many women in leadership find this to be an advantage. Men tend to talk over one another in meetings, while women are more prone to listening.

Strong women leaders also make the extra effort to ensure others are heard, including probing for input from those in the room who are not sharing. Many women leaders have noted it is often more important to hear from those who are quiet than those who are doing much of talking. Matching another’s communication style is another excellent technique for promoting effective communication.

Women should aspire to look like leaders. Unfortunately, women are judged on their appearance more often than men are, even in the leadership realm. To have leadership presence, women must present a professional image.


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Hidden Leader Traits Chapter 2

LEADERS WHO ARE HIDDEN

  1. Demonstrate integrity. Those with integrity have a strong personal definition of right and wrong and always act according to that definition. In addition to applying their ethical code in all situations, hidden leaders understand and take into consideration the impact of their decisions on the group. For example, a hidden leader would give feedback to an employee in a private meeting rather than during a staff meeting–but if the subject of the employee’s performance were to arise at a staff meeting, the hidden leader would find a way to tell the truth without negatively impacting the individual or the group. Hidden leaders have ethical consistency; they always act in the same manner, whether or not they are being observed. Courage is an important quality in hidden leaders; they have the courage to speak up and do the right thing even when it is difficult. They often do so quietly in ways that others can accept.
  2. Lead through relationships: Hidden leaders take an honest interest in others at all levels of an organization. As a result, they develop real relationships that allow them to have a positive influence. Relational leaders use interpersonal skills effectively, are curious, value others, and believe in their own value. They are well liked and their natures inspire others to act. Relational leaders are more effective in that they are able to tap in to talent within an organization because they know who those people are; they influence others to do their best because they believe in them; and they are better able to help employees cope with specific challenges because they know them on an individual level.
  3. Focus on results. Hidden leaders understand how their jobs impact their companies’ value promises. They focus on results rather than processes. Hidden leaders follow procedures, but are willing to do things differently to meet the goal of pleasing customers. They maintain a wide perspective and posses an independent initiative to act. In other words, hidden leaders do not wait for permission; they take action because they feel responsible and accountable for positive outcomes for all stakeholders. When managers clearly outline the goals and visions of their companies, hidden leaders can make decisions that support those visions.
  4. Remain customer purposed: Customer-purposed hidden leaders act according to the goal of benefiting the company and the customer. They focus on ensuring that the entire customer experience delivers on a company’s value promise.


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Winning with Honest Feedback

The old adage, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you,” is certainly not true in the business world. Women (and men too) looking to grow their careers or simply perform well at their current jobs cannot do so if they are unable to accept constructive feedback on their performance. Unfortunately, many people find constructive feedback difficult to hear, usually because there is a tendency to take it personally. The typical first reaction to constructive feedback is defensiveness; however, this reaction can be overcome. Simply taking time to let the feedback “sit” rather than responding to it immediately can help take out the sting and provide room for objectivity. Another good tactic is for recipients to balance the criticism with a conscious acknowledgment of their positive attributes and contributions.
As difficult as it might be to accept, criticism can be an excellent way to gain the self-knowledge that can lead to significant personal improvement and growth. Women should not only try to be less reactive and more responsive to constructive feedback, they should be sure to solicit it from colleagues, subordinates, and superiors. Many of the most successful women leaders do this on a regular basis. Being able to absorb constructive feedback and turn it into constructive action builds confidence.

As helpful as it is to receive feedback, not all feedback is sound. Sometimes the person delivering the feedback has ulterior motives, or his or her judgment could be in question. Therefore, women would be wise to develop a trusted set of advisors whom they can talk to about the feedback to confirm its legitimacy.

Giving constructive feedback can sometimes be another challenge for women. Some women have a tendency to smooth things over or soft-pedal criticism, particularly in serious or difficult situations, such as firing a subordinate. Feedback should be direct, but kind. Candor and honesty, tempered by thoughtfulness and sensitivity, are characteristics that define good leaders and encourage trust and respect.

It is important for women to realize that not all situations can be improved from constructive feedback. For example, there might be situations where women feel particularly vulnerable to backlash. Relying on intuition can be very useful in making a judgment call on when not to provide feedback.
Good luck!


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BUILDING BLOCKS: MISSION, VISION, AND STRATEGY

A Balanced Scorecard translates the mission, vision, and strategy into performance objectives and measures in each of the four Scorecard perspectives.
Mission statements communicate the core purpose of an organization, as well as employees’ reasons for engaging in the work of the company. Effective mission statements are simple and clear, inspirational, long term in nature, and easy to communicate. It is not a good idea to assemble a large committee to write the mission statement; Niven recommends a team of two to three individuals.

The vision statement defines where the organization wants to go anywhere from 5 to 15 years into the future. A good vision statement should be quantified and time bound, concise, consistent with the mission, verifiable, feasible, and inspirational to stakeholders. To develop a vision statement, it is essential to interview executives. A well-crafted vision statement makes it easier to create relevant objectives for the strategy map as well as measures for the Balanced Scorecard.

As organizations create a strategy, they must answer four questions:

1. What propels the business forward?

Niven has found that most companies are driven by one of six forces: products and services, customers and markets, capacity or capabilities, technology, sales and distribution channels, or raw materials.

2. What does the organization sell? The goal is to identify which products or services the business will focus on in the future and which ones will be given less attention.

3. Who are the company’s customers?

The objective is to identify which customer groups the business will focus on in the future. This requires a thorough understanding of existing customers and their point of view.

4. How does the business sell?

This question determines the organization’s value proposition, therefore it is essential that teams reach consensus on the answer.
Lay a great business foundation with PRISM


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Are You Listening well? Learn the art of Artful Listening

Artful listening 

Artful listening is at the heart of authentic leadership.

It means entering the conversation without a personal agenda, being open minded to others’ opinions, and paying attention to all the unspoken cues (like body language) coming from the audience. While the gender stereotype presents women as good listeners, many women in leadership find this to be an advantage. Men tend to talk over one another in meetings, while women are more prone to listening.

Strong women leaders also make the extra effort to ensure others are heard, including probing for input from those in the room who are not sharing. Many women leaders have noted it is often more important to hear from those who are quiet than those who are doing much of talking. Matching another’s communication style is another excellent technique for promoting effective communication.

Women should aspire to look like leaders. Unfortunately, women are judged on their appearance more often than men are, even in the leadership realm. To have leadership presence, women must present a professional image. Recommendations from successful women include dressing “one step up,” dressing appropriately for the setting, and also dressing in a way that personally inspires confidence and expresses individuality.