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Take a seat at the table -- and bring others along

Tuesday, December 8, 2015  
Posted by: Rufino Cabang
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"Reframe your gender as an asset — the world does not need more women 'acting like men,'" Nancy Lebold, vice president of procurement for WinCo Foods, told NEW members during the final webinar of the 2015 NEW Leadership Academy series, Nov. 6, 2015.

Lebold joined Michelle Collins Battello, associate director at Procter & Gamble, and session leader Jo Miller, CEO of Women's Leadership Coaching, for "Taking a Seat at the Table," sharing advice on "showing up, speaking up and taking the lead" in a corporate world often perceived as male territory.

Sometimes, being "polite"' can send the wrong signals to colleagues, Lebold said. She offered these six specific behaviors during meetings that can strengthen your move to the table:

  • Sit up straight and project confidence and interest
  • Practice "power poses" before meetings
  • Make eye contact with everyone
  • Be early and grab the front row
  • Spread out and make room for yourself
  • Watch your tone; avoid "upspeak" and use framing statements

For Battello, recognizing her insecurities was a step toward empowerment. "Being younger than others, and a woman, was more important in my head than to the others. Women, more than men, tend to have a bit of self-doubt that creeps in and we tend to question ourselves much more than we deserve to be questioned."

Lebold said unrealistic goals can create obstacles to success. "The only person expecting 100-percent perfection is probably you," she said. "And it holds you back."

Opportunities for women to take their seat may be more plentiful than you think. Battello said women should be present in:

  • Any discussion about or impacting your business
  • Any discussion on a topic you have experience in and a unique perspective of
  • Every meeting you're invited to (otherwise, why were you invited?)
  • Personnel decisions, to voice support or to push against potential bias
  • Any discussion on your own career path

Empowering teammates is a critical step in taking — and honoring — your place in the organization. "Know the topics and areas of expertise for each team member, and look to them as experts," Battello advised.

NEW members may register online for the first NEW Leadership Academy webinar of 2016, "Creating an Opportunity-Driven Career," February 11 at 1 p.m. ET, for free. Members may view previous NEW Leadership Academy webinars in the NEW Study Hall.

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