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Rather than “whine,” Byham encouraged the group to show why they deserve opportunities, and to be their own marketer and advocate in the workplace.

Are we doing all that we can to empower our female leaders? Or, a better question may be, are women doing all that they can to empower themselves?

Tacy M. Byham, CEO of Development Dimensions International (DDI), spoke to a standing room only crowd at ATD on the importance of women leaders — stressing that this is not a women’s issue, but a business one.

Throughout her presentation, she cited important data points arguing that we may be at the tipping point when it comes to advancing women in leadership. Despite the fact data shows us when women lead, businesses perform better, the top organizations place only 28% women into high-potential training programs.

Why are women left out?

According to Byham, women don’t use their voices to be heard. So how can they #LeadLikeAGirl?

Byham recommended four things women can do to close the gap and become leaders in their organizations: Declare Yourself, Radiate Confidence, Fail Forward, and Super-Power Your Network.

Declare Yourself

According to Byham, women often don’t promote themselves in the workplace. They are happy using “we” to talk about a group effort rather than declare their part of the project. She encourages women to declare what they have done and put together a business case for promotions. However, she reminded the audience of the distinction between declaring and defending. Rather than “whine,” Byham encouraged the group to show why they deserve opportunities, and to be their own marketer and advocate in the workplace.

She shared data showing that women will only apply to a job or ask for a promotion when they have met 100% of the requirements. Men, on the other hand, will apply with only 60% of the skills met. If women want something in a career (salary, promotion, travel, work/life balance), she says they need to declare themselves and ask.

Radiate Confidence

We’ve all seen the YouTube videos. If you stand in a superhero stance or power pose, you will feel the confidence run through your veins. It sets off the serotonin, causing your confidence take off. Before the next challenge, Byham suggests women stand like this for two minutes to make themselves become more confident.

Moreover, she encouraged women to mentally promote themselves before meetings. If women consider themselves to be on the same level as the other people, they will use more positive, declarative language. A few tips she provided the around language was to stop using “I hope” and replace it with “I know.” Women also have a tendency to apologize — “I’m sorry to ask, I may be wrong” — before they even get to the objective of the email. In order to be more authoritative, they need to be confident in their communication.

Fail Forward

Byham says it’s as simple as this: give yourself permission to fail.

Learning is a process. Try out new ideas. And always, fail forward. Use the experience and knowledge you gained to help educate yourself in future attempts.

Remember, FAIL is just an acronym: First Attempt In Learning


Let yourself leap.

Super-Power Your Network

There’s a difference between having connections and being connected.

With the constant change of today’s workplace environment, reorganizations, mergers, and promotions are bound to happen. In order to get ahead, you need to have mentors and sponsors.

Byham encouraged all women to “hook” people. Don’t be afraid to make authentic connections with each other. You never know when a new initiative is about to take off and leadership is looking for names to help institute it.

Women with mentors are 1.4 times more likely to get promoted within five years than those without. Find someone who believes in you even more than you believe in yourself.

Women need to step into leadership roles and continue to promote one another in order to close the gap. Remember, The World Economic Forum said it believes men and women will not enjoy equal pay until the year 2133.

It will be up to women to help themselves along the way. So how will you #LeadLikeAGirl?

Dealing with your inner critic? Learn how to banish it – for good – here


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