Do you have the essentials needed to advance?
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Posted by: Barbara Francella
get into the c-suite or boardroom, women must S-E-E their way there — with sponsors,
executive presence and exposure.
you have a sponsor? The most effective sponsors are usually senior people who
are — or have already been — in the C-suite and boardroom. They use their
influence and connections to get people to open doors for those who desire to
walk through them. They speak for you in your absence so that others will let
you into the room.
are two things to consider about sponsors:
they are normally white males, since white males make up the majority of senior
executives and board members. Don't be bothered by the fact that people who don't
look like you are making decisions about you. All of my sponsors, with the
exception of one, have been white males.
sponsors pick you; you don't pick them. That is one big difference between
mentors and sponsors. How to get sponsors to pick you leads to the second thing
you must have:
Goudreau defined executive presence perfectly in a 2012 article in Forbes
magazine: The ability to project confidence, gravitas, decisiveness and poise
under pressure. Speaking skills, assertiveness, appearance and the ability to
read an audience or situation contribute to your executive presence. In short: When
people with executive presence speak, leaders listen.
help develop my executive presence, I invested in my communication skills. I
read books such as How to Speak Like a
CEO, How to Become a CEO and What the CEO Wants You to Know. I took
media training to work on my presence, body posture and succinctness. Such
training doesn't turn you into someone else; it brings out your authenticity by
releasing the natural speaker in you.
Exposure is key
third thing you need is exposure — situations where others get to see you in
action. The way to tell if you have a supportive boss is by the opportunities
for exposure he or she gives you. The best exposure is presenting to executive
management, the CEO and to the board. Those presentations are powerful because
everything — including your sponsors and your executive presence — comes
together and presents you with the opportunity to be on stage.
will come as a result of you delivering positive results, especially in
difficult situations. My exposure came when I was leading large,
enterprise-wide initiatives and turning around troubled businesses. Getting P&L
experience offers exposure to all aspects of a business.
career was functional (IT and transportation) until I asked for and received
P&L experience. Roles with P&L responsibility not only gave me
exposure, they made me a better leader because I had to align people across
functions to achieve growth and profitability goals. I learned and mastered all of the techniques —
those not taught in project management or change management classes — to
address the challenges of leading change.
challenge to you is this: Position yourself to attract Sponsors, nurture Executive
presence and seek the Exposure needed to get to the C-Suite or boardroom. Then
S.E.E. your way to your next promotion.
H. James Dallas is the former senior vice
president, quality and operations for Medtronic Inc., a global medical
technology firm. Before retiring in 2013, he served in general management, business
operations and information technology positions, including 20 years at Georgia-Pacific
Corporation. Dallas serves on the boards of for-profit and non-profit
organizations. He was named one of the most powerful black men in corporate
America several times by Black Enterprise and Savoy magazines.
expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its
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