Grit, Gravitas and
Grace Leadership Tip Featured in Lois Frankel Monthly Newsletter
by Dr. Karen Otazo
This month’s coaching tips
come from my own mentor, Dr. Karen Otazo. Two decades ago she had
the foresight to see that business coaching was an invaluable tool
to people of all ages and at all stages of their careers. Her
books, The Truth about Managing Your Career and
The Truth about Being a Leader (Prentice Hall Business Books
2006), contain great suggestions for how you can get and keep the
job you want. Here she talks about three essentials for women
leaders: grits, gravitas, and grace. These three are
crucial for women in leadership positions in organizations of all
Very smart women abound.
So, why aren’t more women in leadership positions in organizations
of all kinds? Learning balance is key for women as well as men, but
women need to be acutely aware of everything they say and do. We
are more noticeable and often fewer in number. Our secret weapons
are preparation and forethought. The art of preparing for
everything that is public in any way – a meeting, report or
conference – is critical.
A core issue for any leader
is striking the right balance in relation to power,
achievement and relationships. We’ve all seen
out-of-control power. The excesses of corporate and political life
litter our newspapers and talk shows. As for achievement, even the
“iron maiden,” Margaret Thatcher, said that if you want a job done
ask a woman. Although women through the middle management ranks are
often known for relationship building, at the top they are typically
known as “cold, ice princess, angry, pushy” etc. Then again, we’re
also damned if we’re not “tough” enough.
As women, we need to prepare
ourselves for leadership roles and our “place at the table” wherever
it may be: in Kuwait where women got the vote in 2005 and the first
woman parliamentarian was elected in 2006 or in leading your local
PTO (Parent-Teacher-Organization). There are three ways to strike
the right balance:
Grit: Hang in there
when the going gets tough without explaining or complaining. Just
like fine sandpaper you need to keep up the friction but without
aggression or defensiveness.
Gravitas: This is a
great British term that means you are wise and thoughtful in what
you say. Think of yourself as older and more experienced. Think
before you speak, weigh alternatives carefully, and consider your
Oscar-nominee Helen Mirren in the movie The Queen (about Queen
Elizabeth II) or even her earlier movies about Queen Elizabeth I.
The royal upbringing helps a Queen to move and talk with grace in
public. Grace means manners, composure, bearing and poise.
To learn more about Dr.
Otazo visit her website
www.otazo.com. And if you haven’t done so already, check out
www.womenlead2007.com. It’s an exciting conference I’m
sponsoring on May 8th. Space is truly limited so reserve
your seat now. For more information on how your company can reserve
a table and be a sponsor seen by 500 professional women, contact Dr.
Kim Finger at
Until next month, be well.
Dr. Lois Frankel