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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 kinds.

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 delivery.  

 Grace: Watch 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 Kim@corporatecoachingintl.com

Until next month, be well. 

Dr. Lois Frankel

 
 

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