When I ask people to picture a strong female leader, they still come up with 1980’s- style images of masculine, aggressive women in power suits with big shoulder pads, elbowing their way to the top. Margaret Thatcher used a masculine approach to be taken seriously, and it paid off for her. That is what was required back then, but times have changed. These days, many different kinds of leadership are acceptable and successful, so the pressure on ambitious women has lessened somewhat, and female leaders can use different strategies to communicate. However, one thing has not changed, and that is the need to present your ideas with confidence.
Not quite confident enough? Don’t worry, you can fake it till you make it! In a recent workshop I was leading, I asked the participants (98% women) to try out different phrases with varying levels of confidence. Surprisingly, everyone was able to speak with more confidence than they actually felt, and create a convincing result.
There are many ways to present your ideas and content
Video and public speaking have become very popular, but many leaders I speak to still feel uncomfortable about speaking to a live group or even recording videos.
If you are an introverted or shy leader, you will be happy to know that writing and publishing great content online and offline can create just as much of an impact as standing on a stage or addressing senior leaders in a meeting. The key phrase here is ‘great content’. When you rely on the content alone (i.e. you are not physically present to look someone in the idea or express your ideas face to face with enthusiasm), it is more important than ever to get the best return on your investment of time and creativity.
Therefore, the name of the game is to put the right amount and level of thinking into everything you create. Here are some tips to produce better and more effective content, and be seen as a leader, without being aggressive.
Have a content or thought leadership strategy
Whether you work for yourself or someone else, you need to manage your own career, reputation and profile. If you want to be seen as a thought leader, you need to consistently produce thought-leading content. As mentioned above, this can be exclusively distributed in articles, blogs and even social media posts, with no need for you to speak in person, but you need some kind of strategy to ensure you have the right amount of content, and that you are engaging with your readers in a style and frequency that they will accept.
Plan it all out properly
If you are going to produce something in written form, it could be around for a very long time. You need to take extra care that it gets your point across clearly and succinctly. No one has time to read lengthy pieces anymore unless they really engage. My clients create incredibly detailed plans, even for short pieces of content, and that gives them an edge which often results in media coverage and exposure.
Be consistent across all media
I have seen people create flowery or intellectual content (or – my pet peeve – have this kind of content written for them) and then they appear on social media, on videos or in person as someone completely different, with a different style or manner of speaking. Don’t do this! If you are trying to be effective in a subtle way, keep things the same and write your own stuff. This is the best way to achieve consistently.
I know you are capable of creating great content, with just a bit of time and effort. You can present it in whatever way makes sense for you, and you will attract the right people at the right time. People will appreciate you for your idea, and for who you are.