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What Women Can & Cannot Control About Their Leadership Presence

By Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D

You may have a leadership title, or tremendous leadership potential, but that in itself doesn’t give you leadership presence.

These are typical comments I hear when asked to coach an up-and-coming female whose career has stalled:

“It isn’t that she couldn’t do the next job. It’s that no one on the executive team sees her that way.”

“She has a great track record, but she doesn’t look like a leader.”

“She’s warm and friendly, but she doesn’t have the gravitas we are looking for in a senior position.”

Leadership presence is not an attribute automatically assigned to you because of your business results. It isn’t necessarily reflective of your true qualities and potential. Instead, it depends entirely on how others evaluate you. Being perceived as a leader when interacting with customers, peers, or executives, is the essence of leadership presence.

Women face unique challenges when it comes to being perceived as leaders. They may even add to these challenges by buying into to the “Imposter Syndrome,” or using body language that appears submissive, or waiting for others to recognize and reward their achievements.

You can’t avoid making an impression on others, but you can control the kind of impression you make.

Or can you?

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