To thrive in this female-driven consumer world, female leaders should be at the forefront of all strategic decisions. These leaders need to have more than just a seat at the table. In fact, companies should work to empower these women with opportunities to be in front of the audiences that will drive revenue. Remember that “stages” come in many shapes and contexts, and that women leaders make business magic happen on stages at conferences, in board rooms and in media interviews. They “wow” stakeholders at sales pitch meetings and in the field with customer events. Wherever they are, they must be in the best spot possible to instantly grab their audience — heart, mind and soul. This approach helps leaders capitalize on snap decisions to control the conversations and the outcomes.
It’s time to change the way you get dressed every morning, empowering yourself to be recognized and positioning yourself to achieve more. Embrace your “first three steps” — the actual, physical movement of your body into a room, onto a stage or into a stakeholder’s line of sight. And nailing the impression you make in those first three steps comes down to three key principles. It starts from the inside out and is built upon:
- The Story
- The Style
- The Brand
Every morning starts with one simple question: “What is my story today?” Here is how this comes to life with my clients.
When I first meet a new client, my goal is to understand who she is as a person and as a leader. You can learn a lot by sitting down one-on-one with people and having raw and real conversations. But in Corporate America, vulnerability is hard and getting to the essence of someone and their story is even harder.
So, when I first sit down with a client, I ask a lot of questions. I need to know the answers to these questions so I can ensure that the story she lives is the story she portrays:
- What do you do outside of the office? Do you have a family or like to travel?
- What’s important to you? What are your values, goals and vision?
- What are your fears? What holds you back?
- What do you do for work? What is your role within the company? What do you love about it? If you manage a team, who do you lead and how do you lead?
- What products or services does your company provide? Do you believe in the products and services?
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to confirm my under- standing of someone is to meet with my client, then meet with their team and then validate the team’s observations with my client. This is a delicate dance, and the first part of getting to know some of my clients has begun as a dressing room interview.
I intentionally use the dressing room as a place to validate some of the most important information I can about my clients. It’s a great opportunity to ask some of the harder questions when they are behind closed doors, away from others.
For instance, a team has told me that they love their boss because she pushes them to be the best version of themselves. I quoted this accolade back to my client and asked, “Why do you think they said this about you? How do you do it?” These stories — their stories — are where I start to understand how my clients get to where they are and why they lead the way they do.
Armed with this information, we lay a foundation upon which to construct her looks.