4 Tips To Position Yourself For Leadership

If you are a highly credible businesswoman with years of hard work and experience under your belt, what’s stopping you from advancing to the next level of your career? What are the hurdles standing in the way of you moving up to a leadership role, and what can you do about them?

In today’s competitive business environment, having an impressive resume, a strategic mindset and strong business acumen are all important — but they are not necessarily enough to put you on people’s radar. There may be hundreds or even thousands of other candidates competing for that senior career opportunity. How are you going to cut through the noise and be seen as a woman who leads?

Here are four tips to help you position yourself for a leadership role:

1. Back yourself with confidence

To become visible and have influence, you must have the confidence to gracefully promote yourself.

As a personal brand and image consultant, I have worked with hundreds of intelligent, hardworking, business-savvy women. My observation is that a woman’s professional confidence actually stems from her personal self-esteem – the way she feels about herself – and has very little to do with her credibility, status or talent.

The key message here is to adopt a confidence mindset. You have already put in the hard work and earned your stripes. Now it’s time to really believe in yourself, have confidence in your skills and be proud to share your unique value proposition with others.

If low self-esteem is getting in your way, there are actions you can take to elevate how you feel about yourself. Tip #2 is a prime example.

2. Learn the secrets of empowerment dressing

To feel like a leader on the inside you’ve got to look like a leader on the outside.

A growing body of research suggests that what we wear actually affects the way we think, act and perform. One study in particular found that wearing formal business attire like a uniform, power dress, blazer or suit can elevate your sense of authority put you into a leadership mindset.

Research aside; we know that when we feel great about ourselves, our confidence shows. Empowerment Dressing is about packaging yourself in a way that empowers your confidence, presence and personal brand. The general rule of thumb is that your presence and style must be a reflection of your credibility.

Empowerment dressing is also about putting your best foot forward by paying attention to the details (e.g. tidy hair and nails, appropriate necklines and hemlines) and choosing colours and styles that complement your body shape, complexion and best features. Your outfit should look polished, professional and give you the confidence to self promote with elegance and be remembered for all the right reasons.

3. Genuinely support your female colleagues

And, yes, your male colleagues too. But Ladies, this needs to be said: stopping blocking other women and start backing them.

I used to believe that one of the main obstacles faced by women in business was gender inequity, i.e. being the female minority in a male dominated industry. However, more and more of my female clients have confided that their biggest career obstacle is being blocked by other women in the office! It’s a shocking realisation, yet I have experienced it too. Is this common? Have you ever experienced being blocked by female colleagues? Are you a blocker?

This must stop. It is already hard enough for working women to find their place at the leadership table. We should be supporting each other to reach our professional goals.

We must strive to be someone who makes a positive impact on another businesswoman’s career. We can use our emotional intelligence to be empathetic and build quality relationships. We have the opportunity to be the kind of leader who influences other women to reach their fullest potential.

4. Find a mentor and pay it forward

A great business leader not only mentors, inspires and motivates others, but is also equally committed to their own growth and development. No matter how successful you become, maintain your learner mindset and seek an outside perspective. A mentor, coach, elite training program or mastermind group can provide valuable tools, feedback and advice to help you persevere, innovate, evolve and reach your goals.

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to have had some amazing mentors and supporters, so I always like to pay it forward by giving other women around me the confidence to go after what they want.

Many famous leaders also recognise the importance of having a mentor and, in turn, passing on their gifts to someone else who shows great potential. For example, one of the best lessons that Oprah Winfrey learned from her mentor, Maya Angelou, was this: “When you learn, teach. When you get, give”. In another example, Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said “It’s always good to have a helping hand at the start. I wouldn’t have got anywhere in the airline industry without the mentorship of Sir Freddie Laker [founder of Laker Airways]. Now, I love mentoring young entrepreneurs.”

If you think you’ve got what it takes to step into a leadership position, I hope these tips bring you closer to a senior role that you will love. Use these tips to elevate your professional presence. This will give you the confidence and influence to capture new opportunities and show the world what you are truly capable of.

The Women who Lead program is a collaboration between Flow Leadership and Style Confidante, designed and delivered by Katalin Howell, Director of Flow Leadership and Melissa Lewis Founder of Style Confidante.

If you would like to know more about our programs or would like a program tailored for your organisation, please contact us at Katalin@flowleadership.com.au Melissa@styleconfidante.com.au or visit our website www.flowleadership.com.au

First published on Business Woman Media

Melissa Lewis is a leading Personal Brand, Image and Empowerment specialist. Through her business, Style Confidante, Melissa provides empowering 1:1 consultations and workshops, to hundreds of driven female entrepreneurs, executives, and many of Australia’s largest corporations.


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