In Books & Articles I Recommend


As an executive coach, I know that executive presence is a key driver of success for women leaders. Yet, many women leaders I talk to have had the experience of not being heard when they’ve spoken up in meetings. Someone else comes up with the same idea five minutes later and it’s considered “Joe’s brilliant idea”.  It leaves us wondering whether we need to stand on the table and shout out our ideas in order to be heard.  Fortunately there is a different approach to being heard.  It’s called finding your signature voice and here are three steps to do that.

In their book published recently called “Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence”, authors Amy Jen Su and Muriel Maignan Wilkins share compelling research showing the importance of presence for female leaders in particular. I spoke with Amy Su recently and she shared data from a 2007 Catalyst study about the double-bind many women leaders face. If they’re seen as too aggressive they will not be liked, something women leaders are penalized for more than others. If they are perceived as too “soft” they are not perceived as leaders.  It turns out the penalties for women leaders are higher if their behavior falls outside of the range of what’s acceptable. Their book outlines three steps to authentically “own the room”.

Three Steps to “Own The Room”

The book debunks three myths about presence. The first myth is that people naturally either have presence or not. The second myth is that presence means copying someone else and that one size fits all.  And, the final myth is that once you’ve got it, presence is static and you don’t have to keep evolving and growing.  Instead the authors suggest that presence can be learned and authentic by following the “ACE” model of having powerful presence (Assumptions, Communication, Energy).

1) Assumptions – Each of us have a set of often unconscious assumptions we have made about ourselves, others, and the world. These assumptions are stories that impact our ability to speak up in an authentic way.  We need to understand these assumptions so we can make the right choices rather than be driven by our unconscious habits.

2) Communication – Each of us can improve our skills in communicating effectively. We often assume that communication is binary. For example, we can’t be assertive and respectful at the same time. The authors suggest that we all embrace the AND rather than the OR. We can have a powerful voice AND be compassionate toward others.

3) Energy – Being able to manage our physical energy and vitality is critical to having presence. This means that we take the time for self-care, to create a wellness routine that works for us so we’re energized in how we show up in work and life.

Here’s the link to buy “Own the Room: Discover Your Signature Voice to Master Your Leadership Presence”.

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