8 inspiring women share how to face the tide and sail smoothly

Have you ever thought how did some women manage to progress in their careers while also enjoying life outside of work? They are also leading their part in the same male dominated society as the rest of us. What’s their secret to effectively climb the ladder of success? We asked 8 successful women leaders how did they deal with challenges to accomplish what they have. What’s their advice to women who wish to do something which matters out of their lives? Here’s what they had to say:

1. Be ready to play too many parts – Deepshikha Kumar, Founder and CEO, SpeakInSlide1Many of us have to juggle through various roles and responsibilities in our life. Yet, we must pursue our passion with confidence.

So don’t give up because it’s tough, try harder and bounce back with more force each time you fail.

2. Set goals & Prioritize – Simrat Kaur, Founder, Hashtag HandmadeSlide2Prioritizing and multi tasking is the key to success for women. Many women give up a well paying corporate job and start to work from home to raise kids. The biggest challenge for women in today’s nuclear family set up.

“It gives me flexibility to choose projects and work as per my schedule. After leaving my corporate job, I am working on my passion; probably setting an example for my daughter to follow her heart and pursue her dreams and for my son to respect women with dual roles (home and outside).”

3. Be persistent – Sonya Vohra, AVP Globosport , Founder of Posh19.com (Online Fashion Magazine)Slide3Talking about success for women in any corporate or business, it’s an everyday struggle but have to manage to survive it by being persistent and consistent.

“It also becomes tough because – even if we do want to give 100% to work sometimes you can’t just because you have so much to handle professionally and personally and since we are not super humans we do end up missing the mark at times and that momentary weakness can still beat you up.”

4. Stand up for yourselfSaloni Ramani, Founder , Yoga with a TwistSlide4Do you give up because people are more judgmental about you than your male colleague? Don’t lose confidence because of trying to prove yourself again and again; move ahead with your dreams passionately.

“Unconditional love and acceptance for oneself will not only raise your self esteem but will give you freedom to be real you and will earn you respect from your peers so just love yourself immensely”

Believe in yourself and don’t let people tell “stop you” because you are a woman.

5. Believe that you have it in you – Minakshi Naithani, AVP, HDFC BankSlide5Those of you who are not aware of your own capabilities, this will help.

“It used to be tough but I think now society has accepted the fact that women are at par with their male counterparts if not better.”

I am sure this will make you trust in a brighter future for women, the world is changing for the better.

6. Never underestimate yourself – Shweta Sharma, Vice President – Finance, Blue Hive India, A WPP Group CompanySlide6Not just finance, women are held to higher standards and judged more harshly than men. Shweta’s a perfect example to not to deprive yourself or underestimate for any challenge.

How often do you see men in the maternity ward and day care centers or women in trucking, construction and heavy machinery operations?

The social scientists call this “occupational segregation”. Many are facing these stereotyping in the workplace.

“I believe that no matter what you chose as your field of work, you need to believe in yourself, in your abilities and never take a shortcut for doing your job as only when you learn and master the basics will you be able to move up and handle bigger roles and responsibilities.”

7. Make balance – Richa Vaish Joshi, Deputy Director, Training & Development and Head Hunting, Amity University – Lucknow

Meet the parents of playgroup kids in Gurgaon and you would know that majority of the mothers have either taken a sabbatical or left work to raise their kids.Slide7Life is all about making compromises and making the best out of what we have. But that should not stop us from trying.

So I would say you would also see mothers who have molded their lifestyles to meet their kids’ needs as well as their own needs.

8.Find your anchor – Elizabeth Onyeabor, Author, Speaker & CoachSlide8I strongly believe that successful women are usually inspired by other successful women. And if people don’t have great role models–especially role models in whom they can see themselves–they’re at a big disadvantage.

“Connect with a sage—someone at least one step ahead on your career path.  Then, be the sage to other future women leaders who are at least one step behind you.   Above all, nurture a loving relationship with yourself.  Mentor your inner sage and embrace the cornucopia you deserve.”

Elizabeth shares, “She saw in me what I did not see in myself and continued to nurture and help me grow my talents until I was able to do the same for others.”

Not many women know that you are fortunate if in your early career you find a strong, caring woman leader mentor.

Like these women, if you’ve achieved success by beating leadership challenges women face today, you can also dispel doubts and instill confidence in other aspiring women leaders.

Share your advice and inspire others.

Women Leadership – Aspiring yet not Thriving

titalGiving a leadership role or having a quota for women in senior leadership won’t solve the problem of gender inequality. The management must understand the roots of the issue – why women don’t make it to the top.

Many would associate their professional careers with Meghna, who started her career with high aspirations yet landed at a stagnant role in the middle management for several years and later put to a non challenging role which was said “it would be easier”. The initial years were promising of a bright career but things started to take a different shape when she got married and had kids. Many women are not even aware of the bias they have faced. What went wrong in her case was initially she got a lot of leadership lessons to handle the new leadership roles but later after her first child her potential was treated secondary stating she won’t be able to handle the pressure. The organization failed to groom her for the new leadership challenges.  Post maternity her growth stopped post senior manager. Her manager assumes that the increased responsibility at home would be a road block and she would not be as promising for a new challenging role as she has been. Her existing process was handed over to another manager and the organization failed to develop her for any new assignment.

The problem doesn’t stop at what people think; the problem is also how a woman perceives herself to be. Sakshi, a financial consultant chose to move her role from client interactions to backend operations because she failed to see herself as leading the way forward. She could not hold her point of view with clients and be assertive. She’s still doing justice to the new role but the organization lost a potential leader who could have proven to be future leader.

The existing leadership development programs fail to see that the current gender bias that persist which disrupts women to see them as leaders. They fail to encourage and motivate women to see themselves as leaders as well as be perceived as leaders by everyone else. Researches done by various organizations (like Mckinsey and KPMG) have highlighted those women who aspire to be leaders are not confident enough to lead.

For organizations that insist on diversity for senior positions to boost their productivity, must have leadership development programs that address the personal development of women keeping in mind the following aspects:

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1. Coach:  Talented and dynamic women leaders who can serve to be role models can mentor other future woman leaders to build their confidence. Their experiences could be critical to empower all other women who aspire to grow to higher levels and leverage rather than question their abilities.


employee-professional-300x1992. Exercise:  Organizations should provide challenging assignments that helps future woman leaders build confidence to step out of their comfort zone. Leadership Development programs should be designed to help them to shift from aspiring to be leaders to developing the confidence to lead. It’s like unleashing their potential.

feedback3. Engage: Receiving encouragement through programs that provide constructive feedback for further scope of development along with appreciation for a job well done and not just raises and promotions. Like Sakshi, many women face challenges collaborating and networking. A leadership development program that engages them on how to be bold and assertive.

transitioning4. Transitioning: Leadership development programs must support smooth transitioning to big roles. Providing challenging and aspiring opportunities to collaborate and create networks can only show results when women are made aware of their own strengths and not what others perceived them to be.

For women who aspire to be leaders it’s time to own your success. Take onus if you are determined to step up into the leadership role. Be confident to ask for what you deserve, don’t let gender define or limit your view on what you can accomplish in the future. Don’t chicken out from opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone. Invest on yourself through development programs that give you direction to increase your potential and make you ready for the big roles.

We would be happy to help. Do check our “Woman in Action” program meant for high aspiring women like you who wish to thrive and reach their full potential. To know more http://leaderinu.in/products.html

 

Leadership Redefined for Future: Power to Participation

World of work is changing, or rather world in general is changing. Smart machines, global connectivity, rapid technology developments are reshaping the way we think about work, what constitutes work or the skills we will need to be productive in future. As we move ahead in future, the challenge for leaders is not just the right people but also the right work for them. It’s our ability to adapt and innovate, our keenness to learn – that keeps us one step ahead and lead the way. The expectations from leaders are changing, so what skills do we need to develop as leaders to be successful in 2020?

There are many research available for the projected skills required for the workplace of future, more specifically, I suggest the below the 6 Leadership skills for the future – skills that makes us future ready.

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1. Social Intelligence – Collaboration: An old friend of mine in one of the top hotels of the industry once told me, getting the first fresh lot of vegetables in the morning is a challenge that we must beat. How was he meeting this challenge? Through Collaboration. Be it business or a job, collaborating is the key to keep the edge in your career. When I say collaboration, I don’t mean adding people to your LinkedIn profile or collecting cards at an open forum.  Connect, learn how others are doing it and figure out how it can benefit your business.  Meeting and knowing someone from same industry but diverse thoughts can ignite new ideas. Go beyond association, reduce silos, and devote time to build interconnections of ideas.  Collaborations that saved a dying business, was started by networking.

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2. Design Mindset – Start thinking like a designer: In today’s new age leadership solutions must generate value to the society as well as the customer’s life. As a leader, not only you should develop a design mindset, but create and protect a culture where people are free to think, open to ideas and excited to execute their ideas.

Read more about design mindset (Design Thinking – The New Innovation Strategy)

YourBrand_Banner3. Brand Yourself – Making your presence felt:  The next generation leadership is about how you use your influence to motivate, collaborate and manage others. Whether it’s Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, both have the ‘posture of composure’. They may be dressed in casuals (jeans n t-shirts) but they are a BRAND in themselves.

Find out how to make your presence felt: (Decoding Executive Presence – 7 ways to create the ‘WOW’ factor)

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4. Entrepreneur mindset – Taking risk: It’s a risk which Ritesh Agarwal (Oyo room) took when he decided to adopt 3star hotel rooms and sell under his brand. He’s made an identity with travel aggregators like ‘Make My trip”. As a leader if you have the vision and a team to perform all you need is a gut to execute the idea.

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5. Develop Leaders: Jim Collins also said and John Maxwell also agreed that leaders must create more leaders. If you don’t fill your space with someone else you stop your growth and the company’s growth. Future leaders are expected to hold their people accountable not only for delivering results but how they accomplish them.

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6. Adaptive thinking:Leaders in the future must be adaptive to change. Let go off your previously held assumptions and move ahead with capability of managing yourself amidst unanticipated circumstances. Walk in the future with curiosity to learn and unlearn what has worked well in the past. Be curious to find new ‘dimensions’, be humble to learn, be calm when multitudes of events compete for your attention and be stubborn to challenge the ‘obvious’.

The new age or the future proofed leaders have the challenges of complexity, diversity and ambiguity; to beat these they must develop the above skills. These are a completely new combination of skills and qualities to equip them for the unforeseen and fast paced business climate.

Are you preparing yourself for the skills required to be successful? How are you keeping up with future? What sets you apart as a leader? Check our programs and Register Today! http://leaderinu.in/registration.html

Solve your problems creatively

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Are you hitting the dead end over solving a problem? Do you draw blank over a problem in your business?

We all go through it when we narrow our focus to the problem and problem only…Problem generally generates from a discomfort or an uneasiness showing up as a result of non achievement of the expected outcome. Problem may be a bottleneck to achieve those desirable results. You may not see the problem directly; it may come camouflaged in lot many hurdles. Problem Solving is the key…but creatively.

Problem solving through creativity is a process to advance toward an outcome that is new, unstructured, and open ended. Paying attention to targeting the right issues, developing solutions thoughtfully, and then implementing them with both sensitivity and determination will help find the essence of the problem and get solutions which were not obvious in the first go. It is creative problem solving, because the solutions are not obvious, but different and arrived at using divergent thinking. We’ve talked about divergent thinking in our previous blog {Design Thinking – The New Innovation Strategy}; it’s about generating multiple choices that don’t exist. Mostly people associate creative problem solving with brainstorming, but its more than just generating ideas, it’s also about implementing them.

Let’s see how the process helps solve the problem creatively.problemWhat is the actual problem? 

So start with defining what is the problem. It’s not easy as it seems. Like it’s not a problem that you wish to change the job, the problem is why you want to change the job. Similarly it’s not a problem that your team is not able to deliver the expected outcome on the expected date. You need to dig deep to find out the “WHY”. In a problem situation, I pull myself out and ask myself, “why is this a problem?”, “what do I wish to achieve?”, “What else can be the reason for not achieving the outcome?” Break down your problem and analyze what you are really looking for, it may transpire that the actual issue is something else. Keep asking yourself- “What is preventing me from solving the problem or achieving the goal?”, “Do other people also face the similar problem? How are they coping with it?” By the time you have answered all these questions, you should have a very clear idea of what your problem is.

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What bottlenecks or barriers exist? 

How does our brain works? My daughter is cranky, so immediately I assume she’s tired and sleepy. But it maybe because of staying away from home for long due to the new extended school timings. We go for the obvious reasons. Creative thinking helps you to think of reasons that ‘might be’ rather than what ‘should be’. So now you need to start with divergent thinking, an extensive search for multiple alternatives.  If you are presenting your ideas to your manager and the same are being rejected each time, start thinking “How Might I” do it so as to get the same implemented.

If you have defined your challenge you may find a logical approach to solving both problems in a coordinated way. Make sure your challenge is a simple question framed to encourage suggestions or ideas. Don’t put criteria in the challenge; you will limit your creative thinking. For example, “How might I improve my presentation skills and create my presence in meetings?” Improving presentation skills maybe a part of making your presence felt; but creating presence is a big task which must be taken up separately. Attack each challenge separately.

Have you filled a survey form at a shopping store or a supermarket?  Big companies even approach customers for getting facts on what went wrong or how might they do it to get the best results. For example when Olay’s ageing cream couldn’t make it large, they went back to the customers to find out what they want was missing. They figured out that the problem was in their approach. They were only focusing on wrinkles problem of women above 50yrs of age, ignoring a huge customer base of ages 30 to 40 who had other ageing issues. The cream now sells with fighting 7 signs of ageing.

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I’ve got an IDEA

Now it’s time to think of ways to fix your problem. Whatever approach you choose to solve your problem, make sure you pen down you ideas. Put down your ideas, mind registers faster what it can see as compared to what it can think or hear. You can tap into your network; ask your friends or colleagues for help. Try and get a difference perspective on the issue. It’s ok to seek help, because problems can be beyond your ability to solve. Learn from experiences and knowledge of people around you. Find out what’s your creative time during the day.  Like mine is in the morning. The best ideas for blog always come in the morning. And more ideas, means increased chances of getting one that has value.

Most important is no matter how ludicrous is the idea, just note it down. How will the idea work comes later, lets first collect what all comes to our mind. Sometimes when I am out of ideas, I put my laptop away and take a break. When my brains not under pressure it inspires my subconscious mind to generate ideas. Not necessarily that one winning idea can solve your entire problem, so don’t limit yourself to one. Remember that ideas should be freely proposed without criticism or evaluation.

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Will it work?

Once you’ve got all your ideas on the list, it’s time to pick the best one. Sometimes you may be doing all of this alone for a problem which is entirely yours, but at work when you are trying to solve a problem, make sure you organize your thoughts before you share your solution (the best idea). Check does this idea hit all the barriers you’ve identified earlier. You may have to dig deeper to get to the final selection depending upon how grave is the issue. You can try evaluating by giving each idea a score for meeting each parameter. And later pick the one with the highest score. Or you can do SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) analysis. For example, if you wish to startup a new business or reorganize the team structure or implement a new policy, you need to do more research combined with prototyping sometimes.

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Let’s do it

You’ve got the solution, now it’s time to implement it. Gather what all are the action steps required in order to implement your solution. Implementing the idea doesn’t mean it will be successful just like that. You might have to try it again and again with feedback from each stakeholder each time. Rework till the time you get the perfect outcome.

The key to creative problem solving is to avoid traps that paralyze your thinking. Once you learn to re-define your problem and learn to apply creative problem solving you can achieve efficiency to strengthen your initiatives.

Nothing is more interesting for humans than human activity and the most characteristically human activity is solving problems; thinking for a purpose, devising means to some desired end. —George Polya

Prototyping: Play With Your Ideas

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Whether its Indra Nooyi of PepsiCo, or Kishore Biyani of Future Group or Nisa Godrej of Godrej Industries all corporate leaders today are banking on Design Thinking to connect with there client at the emotional level to see results in innovation, growth and profitability. With start-ups and entrepreneurship growth all around, leaders of established organizations are increasingly making Design Thinking as a part of the core strategy.

Design Thinking has a human centered approach, yet ensuring business value and technology to be part of the solution. I did share my thoughts around Design Thinking in my earlier blog ( Design Thinking – The New Innovation Strategy), today I am sharing critical element of Design Thinking – Prototype. So let’s see the What, Why, When, Where and how of Prototype?

People try shoes, clothes before they buy or test-drive cars or even see the model houses, then why not test your idea before you develop it?  Prototype is nothing more than user interacting with your idea. There are several reasons why it’s so crucial to design thinking:

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  • To problem-solve – the teams have to build or create something
  • To communicate ideas – showing is always better than telling
  • To test various options & possibilities – in low resources – less time and money
  • To connect with end-users – helps elicit feedback and what they think after seeing your idea
  • To get investments – generates interests and investment in your idea
  • Better design faster with shared common understanding

Things we conceptualize in our heads that seem awesome sometimes can turn out to be terrible ideas when we put them in a more concrete, visual medium such as a piece of paper or a computer screen.  It can be anything from a post-it note, or role-play activity or gadget or wireframe or storyboard or interactive simulation Its all about user experiencing your solution – role-play to make them physically go through the environment, or storyboard to walk through the scenario or creating some samples to experience it, but all this to bring out the responses and feedback from the users.

So what exactly should a prototype look like?

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First it depends on your idea and second on your budget and objectives. I would say pick a pen and a paper and draw. Don’t worry you don’t have to be an artist to do that. If you need a nudge to start sketching, try Dan Roam’s book The Back of the Napkin. It’s ideal during brainstorming and conceptualization and can be done alone in a cubicle with a sketchbook or in a group with a flip chart (or whiteboard) and markers. Doing this rapidly and iteratively generates feedback early and often in the process, improving the final design and reducing the need for changes during development.

Just think of your business model like a story. A story how your enterprise will create, deliver and capture value. You can start with what most people are fixated upon- the value proposition. Then decide whom you can sell it to. Sketch in how you can get it to them and how that will generate revenue. You figure out the key resources like a reliable website or brand recognition. The key responsibility of each partner, and the finally from your cost will come from – sales, marketing, platform development. All that will cost you. And there you go, you first model is ready. But don’t expect a middle of a breakthrough. Predictable models can work but can rarely give you advantage. So don’t fall in love with your first idea. To compete in the world where the best model wins, you need to think harder and explore alternatives. You might not find it realistic but exploring it will force you to think hard about potential alternatives.

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There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Just some simple rules

  1. Establish a clear purpose for each prototype:It allows you to take risk or try something new. We all know that markets aren’t stable, technology changes incredibly quickly and customers can be confused – so you’ve got to pursue innovation to create something which user need or want.
  2. Build with the user in mind. What do you hope to test with the user? What sorts of behavior do you expect? Answering these questions will help focus your prototyping and help you receive meaningful feedback in the testing phase. Convert the users’ description of the solution into mock-ups, factoring in user experience standards and best practices.
  3. Share the prototype with users and evaluate whether it meets their needs and expectations.Your interactions with users are often richer when centered around a conversation piece. A prototype is an opportunity to have another, directed conversation with a user.

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Experience is king – pictures speak thousand words, prototype is thousand words. Let people interact with your idea, and then they’ll be better able to understand it.  But don’t be a perfectionist – prototyping does not have to be 100% perfect, just good enough to give everyone a common understanding. So go ahead and start…play with your ideas first before you axe it.

Design Thinking – The New Innovation Strategy

Today we are living and doing business in complex modern technology driven environment. There are various types of complexities, in different forms and faces, and in this volatile environment, business need to experiment with different approaches to thrive. They not only need to understand the complex technologies but also make sense to start using the same for their benefit. We are seeing a massive transformation across the business world – where they are applying the principles of design to the way people work. They are investing in design to get to the top of the trend to deliver more value to their customers.

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How Design is playing a critical role in modern business environment? What is this Design Thinking? What is so great to think like a designer? You may have many more such questions.

Although Design is most often used to describe an object or end result, Design in its most effective form is a process, an action, a verb not a noun.  It is a powerful thinking tool that can drive a brand, business or an individual forward positively.  It’s a protocol for solving problems and discovering new opportunities to achieve extraordinary results. 3M and Apple were companies on the brink of failure- but they proceed to adopt an innovative culture through design thinking to achieve amazing records of success.  Design thinking will allow companies and startups to innovate and explore opportunities, based on unmet consumer needs and understanding of the situation.

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Have you seen your newspaper? What difference do you see in the newspaper that was delivered 10 yrs ago and now? It’s not only news these days it’s about awareness as well. One of the travel newspapers was offering to publish the picture reader would share from their personal travel experience. With digital media growing these companies had tough time generating revenues. So they innovated. They gave the consumer something extra. The point I am about to discus here is how design thinking can help to solve the problem of finding the new blue ocean for many companies.

Let’s talk little more about the foundation of Design Thinking:

Integrate your thinking – think ‘HOW’

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The principles of design thinking have got to do with the way we think about problem solving. We spend most of our educational experiences through school and colleges where we are taught to think convergently. To take the best out of the available set of choices and to converge on that choice and execute. What design thinking does is to encourage us to think divergently. To create new choices that hasn’t existed before and then apply those. Design thinking is about thinking in a holistic way where desirability can meet the needs and viability to develop a workable solution.

We should have a varied perspective to each problem to solve and come up with an innovative solution. How can we have that – by questioning. Like my kid keeps asking me “Mumma why, but why and why” until he gets the clear and easy answer which makes sense to him or the one he finds beneficial. They key is DEFINE ‘WHY’ – Defining the right problem you are trying to solve. We may fall into the trap of solving the problem the same way, every time, but Design Thinking helps us get multiple perspectives by working in a team to yield richer results.

It’s like wearing the designer hat on to take advantage of the technology and deliver value to the clients in an innovative way.

A tool for simplifying – Emotional Connect

Hand writing Smiley on the Customer  - Customer Retention

Design Thinking wants us to focus on the users/clients/customer not on the technology first. What are their needs and wants? What makes their life more fruitful? It’s all about customer’s desires, aspirations, engagement and experiences to describe the value proposition of the product or services before the technical requirements.

Design Thinking is all about the feeling — The latest example is Big Basket online grocery store. What they did that worked for them is they realized that today’s time strapped professionals find it not only hassling but also cumbersome to go shop in the market with traffic and parking becoming worst each day. And that’s something we all have to do daily, alternate days or weekly. So to save their time they came up with online grocery shopping. This might not have been discovered unless they understood what the customer needs. The secret for their success is exceptional customer focus – Offers same-day delivery across a city, 99.3% on time delivery, 99.5% order fill rate and a no questions asked customer return policy. Also compensates a customer every time it is not able to deliver on its promise. Continuously innovating with the help of technology, Big Basket has both android and iOS mobile apps which allow customers to order groceries on the go. They want you to sit at home watching IPL, listening to music, helping your kid to homework or anytime when you get time to order and get groceries at your doorstep. And to top it all, look who’s the bigbasketeer – Shahrukh Khan.

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There are numerous other examples – Panasonic TVs with integrated internet, HDFC Insurance artificial limb ad which focuses on touching the emotional chord of the audience.

Be ready for some bumps

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It’s not going to be a cake walk, the design thinking methodology requires a lot of trial and error, with iterations along the way. The point is not to get it right at the very first try, but rather making use of design principles to understand which options are or not viable, and proceeding with the ones that truly add value to the business, the brand and its customers.

Design Thinking focus on emotional chord – humanizing technology. But is this easy? There is ambiguity, there is risk involved, because we don’t know how much value will it add or will we achieve the desired results.  Leaders need to create a culture that allows people to take chances and move forward without a complete, logical understanding of a problem. But it surely has an empathetic drive to run the business more human way. It helps create a workplace where people want to be, one that responds quickly to changing business dynamics and empowers individual contributors.

In our next blog, I will share some more thoughts around prototype and how can we take our design thinking forward. But have you started thinking like a designer? Share your thoughts with me.

 “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” – Steve Jobs, Apple CEO

 

Decoding Executive Presence – 7 ways to create the ‘WOW’ factor

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In my earlier blog (Decoding the WOW Factor – Executive Presence), I spoke about how important it is to develop our Executive Presence in today’s’ digital world.

It’s a myth that you are born with executive presence —you either have it or you don’t. I agree that for some people, executive presence comes naturally but reality is everyone can work on developing executive presence. After you develop the “WOW” factor, everything changes about who you are and how you influence others.

How do you develop executive presence? 7 ways to develop the WOW factor and have heads turn when you enter the room:

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  1. Being Authentic– Won’t you like to work for someone who’s real and not fake?  I would say to exude executive presence the first step is ‘be yourself’ and let others see who you are. It helps build trust with them. If you are not authentic people doubt your intentions. Even if you are a great orator people will find you manipulative. So don’t be afraid to use your own style or sense of humor; let people see the real you. How do you do it? It’s critical that you find your own authentic voice. Get to know 4-5 values that are important to you and strive to walk the talk in everything you do. Self-confidence, simplicity and composure are the building blocks of your character. Make these your daily habit. Even if you wear best of the suit but have no character, people may perceive you as “empty suits”.

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  1. Hone your communication skills– How you speak is important to command a room. If you want your ideas to be heard you need to communicate in a way people understand and relate to it. Post the first impression, you will be able create the perception about your ability to lead only with your ability to speak. Be assertive, understand them, engage with them and put them to ease. Don’t talk at them, talk with them. We tend to overload people with details and tell them everything we know, but instead if you have expertise in a specific area, make two or three points. Communicate in a clear and concise manner. Avoid phrases like “I think,” “It might.”, “I suppose” and speak with confidence.

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3. Engaging with Others – Are you approachable or engageable? Do you have the ability to read your audience? People won’t grant attention for long, you need to have the ability to keep them engaged and focused so that you are heard.  The key is to build strong relationship be it your employees, peers, clients or customers. It’s about showing interest in others capabilities and perspectives. It is not only critical – what you say but how you say it. We need to ask ourselves – how do we want people to feel after they have interacted with you? Do they feel better or worse about themselves? Being aware of how people feel about themselves in your presence is key aspect of executive presence.

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  1. Dress for what you want to portray– The first thing people judge you – by how you look. Your personal style – clothing, hair and makeup coveys the image that you want to portray as a leader. Be intentional about the impression you want to make as a leader and be consistent with that. If you want to portray a professional – dress up like one. Your wardrobe may not be the only deciding factor whether you are ready for the next big role but perception of a poor appearance may become a roadblock. Doesn’t mean you spend your entire income on buying expensive clothes, but important is dress appropriately.  I remember years ago when my mother told me, “you can always judge a man by his shoes.” She told me that if the heel is scraped and the shoes look run-down, it speaks volumes about how much a man cares about himself and maybe even how he as a leader. The same goes for woman. People will not notice whether it’s Zara or Louis Philip but they would notice the shirt not ironed or a shabby hair do. Ask yourself: Don’t you feel more confident if you are dressed well or should I say in the best of your clothes? Your body language is completely different when you are wearing flats as compared to when you are wearing heels. Your visual appearance does make a difference in how you are perceived.

enthu

  1. Stay composed under pressure– There’s so much competition and so much pressure that is tough to stay calm. We panic, loose temper, we even take the wrong decisions in haste and regret latter. People with executive presence have the ability to stay cool. Put that fire under the table and stay calm and poised. Know your triggers to make sure they are in control. List out 2-3 hot spots that can trigger you and find strategies to resolve the same.

command the room

  1. Command the room:  The biggest driver of executive presence is “how you hold yourself”. When you enter a room, what is your body language? Therefore, make sure you sit up straight, don’t hunch your shoulders forward. Make eye contact with people around the room and add in pauses to emphasize key words or phrases. Simple greeting sets the tone of the meeting. An authentic smile helps you connect and break the ice with people and puts them to ease.

Trust-Me

  1. Build Credibility – In today’s hyper-connected world a single mistake or a slip up will cost you your image. The other day I was watching the movie ‘Jobs’, I learnt brilliance is not enough. In 1985 Steve Jobs was too good at product but couldn’t make it to the CEO of the company which was running on his genius because he couldn’t build his credibility to the board. So how do you build credibility? Credibility is build by commitment to truth, fairness, and objectivity. Can you build credibility if you only know how to take risks without the willingness to admit mistakes? People with executive presence recognize that they are not going to do it right every time, so when they don’t, they’re able to course-correct. People with high credibility know how to ask questions about our values and interests, to listen intently and with empathy, and to pull people together. These are the people with high emotional intelligence to balance the arrogance that sometimes comes with expertise.

It doesn’t matter whether you manage a team or individual contributor or self-employees – executive presence is a choice that you make. You need to decide about how you are showing up every day. How you want to be perceived by others? What personal brand do you want to create? It can help you create the difference but the first step is to believe in yourself, your abilities, your strengths, your values and what you are saying.

For coaching on Executive presence contact us @ info@leaderinu.in