I am an experienced professional, with 10+ working experience in a banking sector. Recently, I was promoted to an independent expert role and I am the only woman in my team. I was wondering, how can I be seen as a competent professional and self-confident, in such a men-dominant working environment?
The latest research shows that people don’t usually see women as less competent than men anymore. The same research shows that people still see women as less ambitious and decisive. Earlier, I wrote about how important is to make your contributions known at the workplace. Another important aspect is that people see all of your competences and leadership treats. Compassionate and empathetic, but at the same time decisive and self-confident are highly requested leadership treats in the new era of business leadership. You can consciously influence the way other people see you using the following tips:
Establish your physical space to be seen as self-confident
- For example, sit up straight in a chair, with your arms above the table or on the arms of the chair. Choose a good and visible place at the meeting table – at the head of the table, or next to the person with the most power or influence. During a presentation, stand straight with your arms next to your body and make eye contact with people in the audience. Don’t walk while talking during a presentation. During bigger pauses between your sentences, you can walk backwards and forwards. Establish your physical space to come across as the owner of your own content, leadership vision or presentation and message you are giving to the audience. You will come across as self-confident professional, who stands literally and figuratively behind your own words.
Communicate in an impactful way to be seen as a competent professional
- Speak loud enough so that everyone can understand you without having to strain to listen. Make short breaks at the end of each sentence and keep the level of your tone flat, instead of raising it up. Use the accepted vocabulary of your line of business. In case of your men-dominant team, these will be mainly masculine words. Don’t forget to use feminine words to express yourself. For example, talk about ‘at corporate level’ rather than ‘at the head office’. you can say ‘we will achieve a return on our investment in 2022’ rather than ‘we’ll have earned it back by 2022’. Occasionally, mention people of influence, your impactful results, and compliments you got from clients. If you are giving a presentation in a large room, use a microphone. Use of vocabulary that is aligned with your line of business, makes you come across as a competent professional. Mentioning positive feedback from your clients and your achievements makes you be seen as recognised expert in your field.
Don’t present your proposals or statements as questions to be seen as decisive
- Instead of ‘would it be an idea to …?’, you can say ‘I propose that we …’ When using proposals and statements, other people see you as a decisive leader who has a clear vision and mission towards which is leading. Don’t give a long explanation because you don’t need to give all the information. If others need more, then they’ll certainly ask you for it. Give your opinion in clear terms, and don’t try to eliminate all possible risks by including any doubts that you may have. In general, try not to think for other people and instead of them. We are all grown up at work and each of us can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Create your own personal leadership vision based on your core values. Leading towards your personal vision helps to be seen as a competent leader. Communicate your leadership vision to people around you in a clear and consistent way. This helps you to be seen as self-confident leader, who is decisive and ambitious.
Every day is an occasion to get the career you deserve!