How You Might Be Undermining Yourself and Hurting Your Career

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As a woman, are you making yourself known in a professional, positive manner and leaving an imprint? Are you aware of the non-verbal, verbal, interactive, and communicative cues that you are giving that could be undermining you? Do you know how to navigate common and awkward workplace situations with credibility, clarity and confidence, so that you’re seen as a leader in the organization? These are the questions asked by Laura Katen, President of KATEN CONSULTING, a NY-based professional development training company.

KATEN CONSULTING conducts group programs and coaching sessions for various organizations on the topics of professional presence, individual and team presentations, communication, and business & social etiquette.

Her book “How to Communicate with Confidence, Clarity, and Credibility: For Organizational and Individual Success!“ is the perfect companion to what KATEN CONSULTING teaches.

Since Laura offers help to anyone who seeks to be more successful in business and in life, we asked her specifically about being a woman in the workplace. How actions, non-actions, misconceptions and perception impact success.

Q: What are the three biggest mistakes you find women make when trying to communicate effectively?

A: Number one: closed body language. Often times, women undermine themselves by making themselves look “little” through their posture and mannerisms as opposed to exuding confident postures and gestures. This directly impacts their level of credibility.

Number two: women, in general, often don’t smile enough or laugh and smile too much. Both affect the level of comfort and substantiveness with which women are viewed. By “smeyesing” (making sincere eye contact and smiling) women exude an approachability and connectivity.

The third biggest faux pas, when it comes to body language, is the handshake. Often times, for a myriad of reasons, women tend to give a weaker handshake than what is professionally expected and universally desired. Without opening their mouths, they have immediately undermined their capability, leadership quality, confidence, and credibility.

Q: What have you seen to be some of the benefits when women take on these tips?

A: Once women increase awareness to not making these faux pas, it has exponential impact. There is a certain substantiveness with how women start to carry themselves. This affects how they speak, how they interact with others, whether they initiate versus follow etc. When women exude a professional presence through their appearance and body, voice and words, and know some of the quick tips and strategies for exuding substantive credibility, doors open and influence-power is created.

Q: What would be something specifically in their careers?

A: Often, I find that some top workplace concerns for women include not knowing how to say ‘no,’ when to speak up and interject when attending a meeting, and how to stop somebody from interrupting them. Often women have been conditioned to be caregivers and nurturers and not go-getters. So when you can, create a foundation internally, whether it’s a change of mentality, a change of body posture, a change of vocal intonation, or simply the words you use. When you change those qualities, you’re strengthening those parts of you that lie within. Your mentality changes to become more confident and say, “Yes, I can ask for this. I can pursue this. I do know how to navigate that.”

Q: What would you say is a good way to say ‘no’?

A: Whenever you say ‘no,’ or anything that could be perceived as negative, you want to: first, acknowledge and validate. If your manager asks you to take on another project…thank him/her for thinking about you and feeling that your expertise or your ability falls inline with what they need. Second, when at all possible avoid the dead-end ‘no’ – instead offer options. You might respond with “the timeline that you’re looking towards achieving is not going to work with the other projects you have me working on. Can I delegate aspects of it?” Or you might ask “Is this project a priority for you because there are a few other agenda items you’ve given me and I want to make sure to give my focus to what’s most important to you. Is it a priority project, and if so, which tasks can I put aside for a later date?”

If it’s just something that you don’t want to do – like move from New York to the San Francisco office, then share how much you appreciate the offer. Explain that the it’s not the right timing for you personally. Saying ‘no’ always depends on the type of request and your comfort-level around it.

These 4 questions are just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more to what Laura and her team teach and the impact her programs can have, and have had, on a multitude of organizations and individuals. If you would like to reach Laura, please visit the ‘Contact Us’ page on the KATEN CONSULTING website www.katenconsulting.com

Kirsi Bhasin is the founder of My Orange Villa, a company whose mission is to provide a highly focused way to help busy professionals overcome exhaustion and fatigue and be happier and healthier. Kirsi has been featured in TIME’s MONEY Magazine and is a contributor to The Huffington Post. Kirsi is an expert member of Dr. Oz’s Sharecare community of top-ranking health experts and has worked with leading companies both in the U.S. and abroad.

Transportation You Program

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BpR7RqUCIAAXEE3Transportation You Program

KATEN CONSULTING teamed-up with NYC-based corporation Parsons Brinkerhoff. KATEN presented its 7 Second First Impression & Communication workshop to the young women of the non-profit Transportation You. Great questions were asked!

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6 High-Powered Women Share Their Secrets for Success

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6 High-Powered Women Share Their Secrets for Success

by Laura Katen

I probably don’t have to remind you of the statistics about women in high-level leadership positions in the U.S. (And if I do, let’s put it this way: They’re grim.) Most of the time, all you have to do is look around the C-suite of your company, and the picture will be all too clear.

But there are plenty of women who have made it to the top—and today, they’re sharing their secrets for success. To learn more about their journeys, their career paths, and the advice they’d share with others, I recently chatted with six of the most prominent leaders I know. If you’re aiming for the top, read on for their quick nuggets of wisdom on leadership.

 

Kathleen Tierney

Recruited out of college to work at Chubb Insurance, Kathleen Tierney learned very quickly that she could distinguish herself by volunteering for projects and initiating ideas. Her strategy paid off,

and after working in many different business units, today she sits at the helm as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. She is also the first woman to run a business unit at the organization.

 

Define a great leader. What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

“Leaders need people skills, organizational skills, and the ability to ask really good questions even when they don’t always have all the answers. Great leaders are able to see trends that others can’t, to see the big picture, to ask the pointed questions, to set the goal and get people to that common goal, and to celebrate successes or quickly rethink and retool.”

 

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

“There’s never going to be a precisely right moment to speak, share an idea, or take a chance. Just take the moment—don’t let thoughts like ‘I don’t feel like I’m ready’ get in the way. Look to see if you have the main things or the opportunity will pass you by. Don’t let perfect get in the way of really, really good.”

 

What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

“If you make a mistake, own up, apologize, and move on—don’t ruminate. Appreciate feedback, and think, ‘What can I do with this?’ If you’re not making mistakes, you may not be doing something interesting.”

 

Official headshot 7 07 300x300 6 High Powered Women Share Their Secrets for SuccessNita Lowey

After a career in local activism, grassroots politics, and state and local government, Nita Lowey has served as a U.S. Congresswoman since 1989. She is the senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee and was the first woman of the Committee to lead either party.

 

Define a political leader. What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

“Someone who’s effective in achieving priorities. An effective leader should also understand the unique ability elected officials have to influence policy that helps improve others’ everyday lives.”

 

What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in politics?

“For women who are eager to enter into public service, I think they should keep in mind that women’s experiences as mothers, daughters, wives, and primary caretakers, as well as employees, businesswomen, and community leaders, often make us uniquely qualified to address through public service the issues facing our families.”

 

Ruth Mahoney

Ruth Mahoney was very comfortable in the fast-paced realm of banking. In fact, she never agreed with the notion that it was a “man’s world.” She’s risen through the ranks in her field, and today, she’s the President of KeyBank Hudson Valley / Metro NY District, where she oversees the operations of dozens of regional banks and hundreds of employees.

 

Define a great leader. What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

“Working alongside your team, and being a good decision-maker—someone who can be relied upon, who takes responsibility, and who works well with people.”

 

What are some strategies you’ve learned that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

“Decide what your career is, and be specific and be focused. Be a student of business—meaning, understand it from all angles. You need technical and business acumen to be successful in a role. Read to understand more about the position than just what your job requires. Also, it is really important to meet and exceed all of the expectations in your role. Make your aspirations known, ask for feedback, be open to feedback, and do something with that feedback. Work on getting the skills you need to achieve that position.”

 

Donna Frosco

The legal field is notorious for having few women at the top, but Donna Frosco is one of those successful few. As the first woman partner at her firm, Keane & Beane, P.C., Donna founded the intellectual property and technology practice area. She also serves as the President of the New York State Women’s Bar Association.

 

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

“Competence is essential—master your subject matter. You should also have the ability to communicate clearly and adjust your communication for the individual or group you’re attempting to reach. And initiative. Voracious curiosity, learning quickly, and listening well—to what is being said and sometimes, more importantly, to what isn’t being said.”

 

What are some strategies you’ve learned that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?

“Stand up for yourself without being overly aggressive, and surround yourself with good people. Cultivate relationships with people you respect and admire by finding a commonality—a support network is also key to success.”

 

Barbara Cerf

Having grown-up in a financially modest household, Barbara Cerf’s parents told her they could not afford to send her to college. But she was adamant about attending college and accomplishing anything else she set her mind to. Set her mind she did—and today, she is Corporate Vice President, Women’s Market at New York Life.

 

What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

“Great leaders are innovative. They look at things differently, and they teach us to look at things differently. They’re also energetic, they can see the whole picture, they have great foresight, and they understand people and business. They’re people with ethics, integrity, and honesty—and they’re decision-makers.”

 

What advice do you have for women aiming for leadership positions?

“Just do it. Dream it and do it. Learn how and when to say no and delegate. Enjoy what you are doing, and make sure you are having fun. And don’t be afraid to bring new ideas forward, but be respectful of people.”

 

Stacy Musi

Stacy Musi, a black belt in karate, lives by one of her favorite sayings: “Seven times down, eight times up.” As Managing Director of Chadick Ellig Executive Search Firm, her commitment to this mantra of focus, tenacity, and persistence has been the secret to her success.

 

Define a great leader. What are some traits you think great leaders possess?

“It’s important to be respected, and you can achieve that by being credible. Know what you’re talking about, work hard, set appropriate expectations, and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”

 

What’s one key leadership lesson you’ve learned along the way?

“Choose your battles. You should be willing to go to the mat, but it shouldn’t be for everything. Choose what’s important, and ask yourself, ‘Will it help me or hurt me?’ Step back, think, and make a choice.”