MetLife’s Developing Women’s Careers Experience Program

What does it take to be an effective leader?  A lot of it comes down to presence – the ability to capture the attention of your audience and hold it.  Or in other words, how you say something is just as important as what you say.

Ultimately when we’re talking about presence, we’re talking about communication.  And while we can spend hours participating in leadership training we don’t tend to spend nearly as much time on communication training.  Imagine how effective we would be as leaders if we had a better balance.

I’m a big believer that presence can be developed in all of us, and it begins with four things:

Personal brand – our personal brand is how people describe us, or in other words, the impression we leave.  People will build an impression of you not just when you are fully prepared and delivering in front of a crowd, but in your everyday interactions, for example when you walk into a meeting or when you informally chat with someone in the corridor.  Ensure you make the most of all of these opportunities to reinforce what you want people to think about you.  And while it may be confronting, a great way to get started is by asking people to share what words they would use to describe you. You’ll soon see if there is alignment or a mismatch between what you think you’re projecting and what people actually perceive about you.

Conviction – try to only speak about what you truly believe; your passion will be clear and often infectious.  So think about what is it that you truly believe and lead with that.  If you don’t wholeheartedly believe in what you’re saying, your audience won’t buy it either and credibility will be impacted.

Know your audience – effective communication is not just about your agenda, it’s about knowing your audience; their needs, viewpoints and backgrounds.  If you truly consider your audience you’ll be able to communicate in a way that truly engages.

Vision – think beyond the function of your role. It’s about seeing the big picture and moving away from a worker bee syndrome.  Inspiration doesn’t come from the functional day-to-day, but from the big picture.

Allyson shares insights from MetLife’s ‘Developing Women’s Careers Experience’, a 14-month program she participated in last year to help prepare emerging women leaders for more complex leadership roles and broader experiences. Find out more about How MetLife supports the next generation of women leaders through its Global Women’s Initiative or take a pledge to #TransformtheFuture at the MetLife International Women’s Day website.