Executive Presence Survey Results- Career Quiz Results

Executive Presence Survey Results - Career Quiz

Executive Presence Survey Results – Career Quiz

By Mariela Dabbah

Executive presence has become a topic of interest for women everywhere, judging from the geographical diversity of participants in our recent quiz Do You Have Executive Presence? We received entries to our executive presence survey from all over the U.S. and around the world from El Salvador, Lithuania, India, Panama, Kenya, China, Australia, France, Brazil and Spain.

The majority, a whooping 90 percent, of those who took the informal executive presence survey were checking out how much executive presence they projected and not whether they had any or not. But even within this group of women with strong leadership qualities, there are several aspects worth examining further.

Executive Presence Survey: Communication style

Although the vast majority, a 63 percent, of the participants use a clear and concise style when communicating their ideas to others,   30 percent goes deeper into the information and the level of details they provide.  Although women tend to do better with less direct styles, and there are some professions where more level of detail is needed, there is a fine line between being less direct and not being clear, which leaders learn to master. Crafting more concise and effective messages is an area where self- awareness and practice are needed.

Confirming why it’s critical for today’s businesses to promote more women to the top leadership ranks, participants were split between two great characteristics shared by those with strong executive presence.

In a conversation with others:

  • 52 percent of the respondents indicated they would spend time listening to what others have to say; and,
  • 42 percent would speak with passion about their vision.
Participants were split between two great characteristics shared by those with strong executive presence.

Participants were split between two great characteristics shared by those with strong executive presence.

By the same token, 73 percent of these women responded that, in a business meeting, they do share their opinions even when they differ from others’, and only 27 percent of these women stated that they would either wait for their turn to talk or keep their opinions to themselves and only share them with trusted colleagues.

Executive Presence Survey Results - When attending a business meeting question

Executive Presence Survey Results – When attending a business meeting question

Dealing with mistakes

One of the areas where responses differed the most was in the way participants handled mistakes. Although the answers were evenly split between on how they dealt with mistakes, there was a significant difference in answers when we correlated how women who ranked at the top of the executive presence scale and those at the lower end deal with the situation.

  • 50 percent stated they admit to a mistake and move on; and,
  • 49 percent responded they’d figure out a way to turn the mistake into an opportunity
Executive Presence Survey Results - Dealing with mistakes

Dealing with mistakes

The entire universe of the respondents who received the highest executive presence scores tended to reply that when they make a mistake they admit it and move on. In stark contrast, almost 90 percent of the women who scored the lowest in executive presence stated that they would figure out a way to turn the mistake into an opportunity. Admitting your mistakes denotes strength of character and moral integrity. A valuable insight for HR professionals to share with high-potentials: The first order of business is always to learn to admit your mistake. There is nothing wrong with learning from your mistakes, a different concept from turning them into an opportunity.

There is a significant difference in how women at the top of the executive presence scale and those at the lower end deal with mistakes

There is a significant difference in how women at the top of the executive presence scale and those at the lower end deal with mistakes

Career Quiz: Overcoming adversity

It’s widely accepted that women are masters at overcoming adversity and the responses to the quiz confirm that. When things don’t go the way they plan, participants were evenly split between “consulting with others on how to go about it” (50 percent,) and “finding a different way and keep going” (48 percent). Both responses prove once again that women are creative problem solvers and consensus builders.

It’s widely accepted that women are masters at overcoming adversity and the responses to the quiz confirm that.: Women are creative problem solvers and consensus builders, two great traits shared by successful executives

Women are creative problem solvers and consensus builders.

It’s interesting, however, that a 72 percent of those who had the most executive presence tend to find a different way and keep going whereas all of those who did not have executive presence chose to consult with others to figure out a way to move forward. We might conclude that, despite these two options being used by women with strong executive presence, those who are more secure in their positions or find themselves in entrepreneurial roles try to figure things out on their own before they ask for input. Rather than immediately asking for help, these leaders give themselves a chance to come up with a good solution.

Executive Presence Survey: Dressing the part

In many conversations about executive presence, people spend an inordinate amount of time discussing dress code.

In many conversations about executive presence, people spend an inordinate amount of time discussing dress code.

In many conversations about executive presence, people spend an inordinate amount of time discussing dress code. Yes, how you dress projects confidence or lack of it, trustworthiness, attention to detail, and many other things about you; but it’s by no means the only variable to consider.

Seventy six percent of the women in the survey admitted they have a particular style that works for them. Fifteen percent stated that they try to imitate the dress style of those in higher positions. And nine percent that they look pretty much like their colleagues. After correlating the figures, we discovered that 86 percent of those with executive presence had a style that worked for them. For those who did not have executive presence, the responses were split between looking pretty much like most of their colleagues and having a style that worked for them.


Executive Presence Survey: Dressing the part

Executive Presence Survey: Dressing the part

Managing Generation Y in the Workplace: How Can Managers Motivate Their Employees?

The secrets to managing Gen Y in the workplace

The secrets to managing Gen Y in the workplace

When it comes to managing Generation Y in the Workplace (Millennials), one of the most frequently asked questions is: How can managers motivate their employees? —These young, hyper-connected, multi-screened, don’t-want-to-pay-my-dues employees who share the workspace (when they agree to come to the office) with older generations.

Funny enough I don’t seem to have a problem with this idiosyncratic lot. They are smart, exciting, have an unprecedented ability to learn new things fast, to be in touch with what’s going on in the world, and a passion for making an impact in society. And their connectivity doesn’t only mean their smart phones are an extension of their arms, it also means they are global citizens who don’t see race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or even geography the same way their parents do. They have a deeper sense of how connected all humanity is, how one’s actions have an effect in someone else’s life, even when that someone lives thousands of miles away.

The 6 Secrets to Managing Generation Y in the Workplace

There are six secrets to effectively managing Generation Y in the workplace:

  1. Leverage all they have to offer and allow them to impact you and the way you work rather than trying to push them to conform to what the workplace looked like when they entered it.
  2. Learn from them as much as you want them to learn from you.
  3. Give them their own project with specific guidelines on outcomes and deadlines and then give them as much freedom to manage the project as possible. Have checkpoints to make sure they are on task but avoid being the helicopter parent they grew up with.
  4. Invite them to offer their own ideas on how things can be done differently to obtain better results, and then implement as many of their ideas as feasible.
  5. Provide as much work flexibility as possible. If there’s no compelling argument to have them physically in the office 9:00-5:00 PM, let them work from wherever they want.
  6. Treat them with the respect they expect and deserve.
Generation Y in the workforce

4 Key strategies to Engage Generation Y in the workforce

How can managers motivate their employees and strategies that work

But we all know that managing Generation Y in the workplace is only part of the deal. What’s more challenging is to motivate these employees, to engage them with your company in such a powerful way that they don’t feel the need to jump to your competition. It’s been said that loyalty is not one of this generation’s strong suits but I disagree. Here are a four key strategies that have worked wonders for me.

  1. Find out what their personal and their professional goals are and make sure to align them with the projects you assign to them. It is in this alignment that you’ll tap into their passion and their loyalty for the work they do and by extension, to you.
  2. Offer public recognition for their contributions and whenever possible, offer additional awards such as certificates, special opportunities, etc. as part of such recognition.
  3. Provide plum opportunities or assignments to those in your team who excel at what they do. It could be to meet executives in the organization that can function as career sponsors, or attendance to conferences your employees are particularly interested in (even when they don’t relate to the work they do for you.)
  4. Support the causes that are important to them. This is a generation that is involved in many causes outside work. Find a way to tap into that involvement by either providing financial support, time off to attend to activities related to that cause, or even having your company partner with some of the organizations your employees value most.

The best part about working with Millennials is that they are hard working, creative and passionate people. When you start implementing these very simple strategies suddenly managing Generation Y in the workplace becomes the most rewarding part of your day. Suddenly you realize that you have been looking at this group the wrong way and that they are your most loyal employees, your best brand Ambassadors who will promote your company without you even asking.

Overcoming Adversity with a Smile: Using your Own Inspirational Story

Overcoming Adversity

Overcoming Adversity

Leaders are always looking for inspiring stories to share with their audiences. Sometimes that inspirational story comes in the shape of an acquaintance or a public person who reached his/her goals by overcoming adversity and others it’s about the leader’s own journey. I have used both kinds of narrative as storytelling is always a big part of getting my message across.

But regardless of the topic I’m presenting on, the inescapable truth is that English is my second language. So on many occasions, language itself becomes the topic of the presentation giving me the chance to either turn it into an inspirational story about my overcoming diversity or, allow it to be an obstacle in communicating the message.

As hard as it is to examine your own language abilities in front of hundreds of strangers, I choose to turn my grammatical foibles into an inspirational story. Something that makes me real to the audience and reveals a vulnerable side of me that makes me relatable as a leader while it leverages my background.  I here share one of my main language struggles as an example of an effective strategy that you might want to try in your next presentation.

I’ve been an English language learner since I was 6-years-old in my native Argentina. I studied the language in an academic environment, thus my almost perfect fluency. “Almost” being the operative word here.

When I began my career as a writer and public speaker in the U.S., I decided to publicly acknowledge that I am prepositionally challenged. That’s right. On and in – two apparently innocuous monosyllables—have been at the forefront of my ongoing tango with English.

My friend and personal editor, Susan Landon, has had the biggest belly laughs and hair pulling episodes while editing my blogs, columns, books and anything else I throw her way. To help you fully appreciate my grammatical handicap here is one of our hilarious exchanges.

I had sent Susan an Op-Ed I was working on, which I had originally entitled: “Black Woman on the Golf Course.” (Admittedly, I had previously checked via phone with her that it was “on the golf course.”) My subject line, however, read: “Black woman in the golf course.”

Susan – It’s ON the golf course!!!!

Me – Sorry, wrong subject line but the title is correct. Did you notice I used your favorite word “eschew”?

Susan – Yes, I noticed “eschew” and I wondered where ON (not IN) earth that came from!! You are really stretching your wings. 🙂

Me – You are such a great influence in me!

Susan – It’s: influence ON me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t catch a break.

In my defense (and the defense of many second language learners!) there’s little rhyme or reason for the grammatical rules of these two little devils. You wait in line at the store but you’re online on the Internet. Someone is on your side but in your mind. They are on your team but in your heart. Something is on TV, on the radio and on a website, but it’s in a book. It’s in Manhattan but  on Long Island.  Come on!

I have repeatedly studied to no avail the many rules that regulate prepositions in an attempt to discover the patterns that elude me. So, I decided to settle for the second best thing besides speaking prepositionally-perfect English: Knowing that being a frequent user of both Spanish and English delays the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, makes me better at multitasking, and allows me to be keenly aware of what’s important and what’s not at every moment.

Inspiring Stories

Inspiring Stories

A while back, in an interview with the New York Times,  Ellen Bialystok, a cognitive neuro- scientist who has spent 40 years learning about how bilingualism sharpens the mind, said that, according to her research, 5 to 6 year-olds who are bilingual “manifest a cognitive system with the ability to attend to important information and ignore the less important.” How does that work?  Dr. Bialystok explains: “There’s a system in your brain, the executive control system. It’s a general manager. Its job is to keep you focused on what’s relevant, while ignoring distractions. It’s what makes it possible for you to hold two different things in your mind at one time and switch between them. If you have two languages and you use them regularly, the way the brain’s networks work is that every time you speak, both languages pop up and the executive control system has to sort through everything and attend to what’s relevant in the moment. Therefore the bilinguals use that system more, and it’s that regular use that makes that system more efficient.”

After reading this interview, I felt a little bit better about my failures and realized that the smartest way to deal with this would be to make fun of myself, (use it as an “overcoming adversity inspirational story”) and let everyone in on the joke, by asking the audience for help when I stumble upon a set of options that I can’t resolve (“Do you say in your shoes or on your shoes,” I’ve asked in the middle of a keynote speech.)

This strategy has served me well. It never fails to lighten up the mood in the room and it reminds everyone that no matter the obstacles they face, overcoming adversity is part of what makes a leader, a leader.

Salary negotiation strategies

By Mariela Dabbah

Negotiating Salary Tips

Salary Negotiation Strategies that Work

Negotiating salary is one of the biggest challenges for women. But when it comes to shrinking the salary gap you owe it to yourself to do as much as you can to get what you deserve. You and only you are in charge of managing your career. Without a doubt one of the most critical aspects of that management involves negotiating salary.

Regardless of where you are in your career nothing beats having a few key salary negotiation strategies at the ready to help you feel confident when you walk into your boss’ office.

Why do women avoid negotiating salary

According to research, there are several reasons connected to your upbringing  that explain why you stay away from negotiation situations:

  • Women tend to think that their circumstances are fixed, out of their control —unlike men who believe that everything is negotiable—therefore, they don’t attempt to negotiate for themselves. (Too often women don’t even try to negotiate a salary offer, they just take it.)
  • Women’s sense of entitlement is weaker than men’s. For example, a well-known study conducted by two psychologists showed that women would pay themselves 19% less than males would for the same task.
  • Women don’t lobby for pay rises as much and as often as men do. When rises occur, bosses tend to give money to those who asked for it —usually men— and give a smaller share (if any at all!) to the women who didn’t ask.

Salary negotiation strategies that work 

Although these salary negotiation strategies work both for men and women, they are particularly important for women because oftentimes they don’t apply them. Also, because they make use of some characteristics that are prevalent in our gender.

  • Check how much people in your industry and in similar positions with equivalent knowledge and experience are making. (Look for men in your network who are willing to share how much they make for similar positions/responsibilities.) If you want to negotiate from a position of strength, it is critical to know where you stand in relation to your peers.
  • Prepare a memo with your achievements since your last promotion and send it to your boss ahead of the meeting.
  • Learn how to talk about your achievements in relation to how they affect your company’s bottom line. Whenever possible use numbers to quantify your accomplishments.
  • Anticipate questions that your boss will ask and work from a win-win perspective. What’s important to your manager? Why do they need you? What is the current demand for your position in the market? Women are particularly well attuned to the needs of others. Leverage this advantage!
  • Be ready to assume a challenge even if you don’t know 100% of what you’re supposed to do in the new position. Jump at the opportunity if you are 60-70% ready and have transferable skills to do the job.
  • Understand that whatever the number on the table, it’s just a starting point.
  • When you negotiate a salary is never only about how much you make.

    When you negotiate a salary is never only about how much you make.

    Before you meet with your boss to negotiate salary, make a list of what you’re willing to give up and what’s non-negotiable. Knowing your walk away point will help you discuss terms more easily.

  • See the potential to negotiate everything and everywhere both personally and professionally. When you negotiate a salary is never only about how much you make. Health benefits, flexible time, title, working from home, expense account, an assistant, etc., are all items that you should consider negotiable.

Although you are an excellent negotiator in other aspects of your life, negotiating salary could still feel uncomfortable. If you think about it as a sport, you can take the pain out of it and enjoy the challenge.  I promise you once you embrace it, your male colleagues will be asking you for advice.

Mariela Dabbah: The Red Shoe Movement

Mariela DabbahWhen Nora Bulnes, Publisher of Selecta Magazine—a 30-year old, well-known, glossy South Florida magazine—grabbed the microphone at the recent launch of my book, Poder de Mujerat Neiman Marcus Bal Harbor, the high profile attendees were in tears. This indisputable leader in the Miami community talked about an experience all too common among women: being the target of envious peers of the same gender. “How many of you know that I arrived in this country with $5 and a young daughter? Or how tough it was at the beginning? Throughout my life, many women envied the shoes I bought, but where were they when I needed help?” asked this powerful woman who is a frequent guest of Donald Trump and whose magazine covers the life of the rich and famous.

My new book came out in March for Women’s History Month with a picture of red stilettos on the cover to signify that women can achieve their goals with their own feminine style. Concurrently, I launched the Red Shoes Movement inviting women to wear red shoes to work as a way to show their commitment to support other women. I wish there were no need for this kind of initiative, but unfortunately, just as Mrs. Bulnes’ story demonstrated the day of the event, this is not a new problem and it hasn’t changed much in the last 30 years.

Given the multitude of obstacles that women face in gaining income parity and equal access to powerful networks in the workplace, it is sad to see our own gender-mates adding fuel to the fire. Why do women tend to be harder on each other than men are? Many theories address this issue. Some point to the evolutionary advantage of jealousy, others to the internalization of messages of oppression, sexism, and misogyny that permeate cultures everywhere.

There’s probably more than one way to explain this phenomenon, yet we have outgrown many traits that were useful at some point thousands of years ago and that no longer serve us well. What will it take for more women to realize that helping other women grow professionally is a key aspect of our survival in today’s workplace? Only when women help other women reach their full potential will we really move the needle. There will be more women executives. More woman-owned companies will have access to capital to take their businesses to the next level. And there will be a woman President of the United States.

At the Neiman Marcus cocktail party, I had the privilege to be on the receiving end of this empowering behavior. A group of strong women such as Nora Bulnes, Remedios Días Oliver, founder and CEO of All American Containers, Inc, and Beatriz Parga, renowned journalist and author of La Maestra y el Nobel (soon to become a movie,) put their power behind me. The result: not only did I get a chance to share my book and vision with an influential audience, but the guests at the event got to connect with each other. Everyone’s network got stronger and larger.  Therefore, everyone’s opportunities multiplied.

I’m encouraging women to share their stories of success while wearing their Red Shoes to work as a way to create a positive movement to inspire more of us to continue to open doors for each other. Eventually, the sheer force of peer pressure will make it a norm for women to wear red stilettos to walk side by side rather than to step over each other.

Mariela Dabbah’s new book Poder de Mujer was just released by Penguin. She’s a leadership consultant for corporations and organizations, an award winning author and renown public speaker. She’s the founder and CEO of Latinos in College, a not-for-profit organization that helps students and families find everything they need to succeed in college.  

Photo: Victor Villanueva @ Flickr

Mariela Dabbah’s latest book Poder de Mujer will be out in English April 2013 by Penguin. She’s the founder and CEO of Latinos in College, a not-for-profit organization, and of the Red Shoe Movement, an initiative that invites women to wear red shoes to work on Tuesday to signal their support for other women’s careers.

This article was originally published on Fox News Latino.