A 2009 study published in the HBR found that the one leadership competency women leaders are perceived as lacking is vision (Full scoop: Women and the Vision Thing). We know the women with whom we work to be visionary leaders, but in a world of quick decisions, perception rules the game of leadership advancement.
How can you be perceived as a visionary leader?
Here are some simple shifts:
1. “Future/Towards” vs. “Past/ Away from” Language
One of my coachees received feedback from senior leadership that she was not seen as “visionary.” Through coaching, she discovered she was communicating using “away from” (problem solving)/past oriented language. In discussing her considerable work accomplishments she neglected to explain how they would create a positive future for the company by revolutionizing the way they approached market. I advised her to end every presentation by specifically talking about how her work was moving the company forward towards a desired outcome. She did this and voila, the very first business head she presented to next praised her for being strategic and visionary. The content of the work was the same but she shifted how she described it.
Experiment with translating your message from “away from/past” language to “towards/future” language whenever possible. You’ll do yourself and other women a favor when you counter the stereotype that women aren’t strategic or visionary.
2. Know your Value Proposition
When you know your unique contribution to leadership, you resonate conviction needed for visionary leadership. Don’t give others a reason to doubt you by doubting yourself.
Click here for a simple exercise for honing your value proposition. Then practice a power pose while saying it to embed internal belief.
3. Speak with S.S.V. (Succinct, Specific, Value Added)
Do you find yourself adding anecdotes and extra details when making a point? Or undercutting your message with provisionals (I think, perhaps). Linguists have found that often women are more “high context speakers” and are more likely to “soften” their message with provisionals.
In a sea of words, our message can be lost. The prefrontal cortex can only hold seven distinct items in the brain at any given time (i.e. seven digit phone numbers). Ensure your vision is heard by framing it in sentences of seven words or fewer.
Prep and practice SSV statements before your next big meeting or presentation.