When I joined the military, it wasn’t uncommon for me to be the only female officer on staff.
Working in an all male environment was interesting, informative, and challenging. While I enjoyed learning from my colleagues, I also found it to be very frustrating.
I would spend hours upon hours listening to my male colleagues discuss, argue, and debate everything from military strategy, sports, the weather, to who was the best basketball player to ever play the game. Everything was a competition, which didn’t make a lot of sense to me.
As I watched and listened to my male colleagues, I would mentally compare their conversations to conversations with my female colleagues. I found myself wondering if I could be successful in a world I didn’t understand.
One day I asked my mentor, who was a senior female officer on track to be promoted to General Officer, how did she climb the ladder of success? She explained how a senior male officer had taken her under his wing and taught her the rules of the “game.”
I know what you are thinking “Kim what are the rules of the game?” Well, I had the same question for my mentor. She smiled at me and gave me a book to read. As I took the book, she told me to come back when I finished and we would discuss the “game.”
Well, this book changed my thinking! When I finished reading the book, I was very excited to meet with my mentor and share my insights. So what book did she give me? Games Mother Never Taught You: Corporate Gamesmanship for Women by Betty Lehan Harragan.
When I met with my mentor, I shared with her how I had used the knowledge I gleamed from the book in my office. I explained instead of sitting at my desk working and responding to colleagues when they asked me a question, I actively engaged in several conversations with my male colleagues.
As I spoke with my mentor, she asked “what was my major take away from the book?” I boldly said confidence! She shifted her head and repeated “confidence.” I explained to her how I had changed how I spoke to and with my male colleagues.
People judge us by how we speak, therefore speaking with confidence is very important for leaders. So, what does it mean to speak with confidence? According to Dan Wendler, “confidence refers to the tone you use when you don’t have authority over someone, but you still want to inspire respect.”
Can you learn to speak with confidence? Yes! Here are three simple techniques I have shared with others that have helped them, and will help you, speak with confidence.
- Control your tone of voice
- Use emotion to emphasize points
- Employ the power of the pause
And don’t forget to practice, practice, practice!
Leadership is influence. Rob Brown said, “If you can speak, you can influence. If you can influence, you can change lives”.
Do you speak confidently enough to influence others?
Dr. Kim Moore, guiding YOU to lead with confidence!
Dr. Kim Moore
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