If leadership has felt like a "mixed bag" or like you're walking a "tightrope" as a minority at the leadership table, you are not alone.
In this episode, I'll help you redefine leadership in a way that boosts your confidence, especially if you're the only woman or woman of color at the table.
You'll be guided through exercises and techniques to help you get grounded so you can empower yourself to engage authentically.
*CORRECTION: In the intro, I say that leadership remains 80-90% male and pale, but I was wrong. According to McKinsey's Women in the Workplace 2023 report, about 28% of women are in the C-Suite, of which 22% are white women and 6% women of color. 15% are men of color and 57% are white men.
As an executive coach for women, I'm super passionate about helping smart women who hate office politics get promoted and better paid.
I do this through my unique combination of:
To learn about my 1:1 coaching series and to book your free hour-long consultation with me, click here: https://www.jamieleecoach.com/apply
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Welcome to negotiate your career growth.
I'm Jamie Lee and I teach you how to blend the best of negotiation strategies with feminist coaching. So you get promoted and better paid without burning bridges or burning out in the process. Let's get started.
When you are advocating for your career growth, when you show up as the only woman or woman of color at the leadership table, and you sit tall with your spine strong, and you exude presence, and you speak up, and you speak your mind that is leadership.
But at the same time, we have to acknowledge that leadership has not been modeled well for us, or in a way that feels authentic to most of us. And that's because, I mean, I'm recording this in late 2023. And you might be hearing this in 2024 and beyond.
But let's face it, even to this day, leadership is mostly male and pale corporate leadership, 80% 90 plus percent by men. And so we have not seen leaders, modeling what we want to be or how we feel how we think we can be authentically.
This reminds me of a conversation I once had with a friend that I admire somebody who is very professionally competent, was really good at what she does. And she says that she doesn't want to be a leader. And I said, How come? And she said, Well, when I think of leader, I think I have to be like one of quote those guys. I think I have to be aggressive. And I don't want to be that way. And so I said, okay, but did you know you could reframe redefine leadership in a way that works for you? She was like, Well, I never thought of it that way. So I said, What if you thought about leadership as a way to empower other people, because that's what real good leaders do. And she said, That makes a lot of sense. Now I can see myself kinda as a leader, like great, we're making progress.
In today's podcast, I'm going to share with you two segments from my real coaching calls that were recorded earlier this year. And in the first segment, you're going to be guided through an exercise to help you discern between one what you think leaders are supposed to look like your image of leadership, and to your actual lived experience of empowerment leadership. And so what does empowerment leaders look like talk like in your experience, so that you can make a decision for yourself so that you can redefine and reframe leadership in a way that works for you in a way that will help you feel more confident, asserting yourself advocating for yourself negotiating for yourself.
In the second segment, you're going to hear from my client, who is often the only black woman only woman only black woman at the leadership table. And she says that, for this reason, leadership has always felt like a mixed bag, right? It's sort of a blessing and a curse because it can feel intimidating and uncomfortable. And so you're going to notice that the first segment is incorporated, we reference it in the coaching segment with this client. And what I do is I teach her I guide her through self directed neuroplasticity tools, because here's the stance that I take, here's what I believe about leadership, which is that we can lead no matter what our gender is, what the skin color we have, what our ethnicity, you know, whatever marginalized identity we embody, we have the capacity to lead ourselves even when were the only in the room.
So I hope you will follow along. I hope you will take some notes, I hope you will try the techniques on for size and see how they work for you. And I think you know, you can use those exercises, the techniques to help you build your negotiation and leadership confidence. So without further ado, here are the segments and I will talk to you soon.
And my intention is to help you cultivate, improve your leadership skills so that you can accelerate your career growth, professional development, satisfaction, income potential, right.
So with that in mind, I'm going to ask you to think about what is the first image or do you think of when you hear the word leader who comes to mind or what is the visual image that that rises? Your mind's eye when you hear the word leader. And just take a mental note of that, like a mental snapshot, what comes to mind?
Okay, and now put that aside. And now my second question is, in whose presence? Have you felt? Acknowledged, empowered, inspired, to follow their lead, or inspired to take action. And this person can be fiction, real, dead or alive. It could even be imagined, whose presence Have you felt? Empowered, acknowledged, inspired, to take action? And again, I'm just going to ask you to take a mental a quick mental snapshot, who comes to mind? What comes to mind? Okay.
And third question is, when you envision that person, again, it could be fiction real dead or alive, the person in whose presence you have felt inspired, acknowledged, empowered, right? So it doesn't even have to be physical presence, right? It could be imagined presence. What might their message be to you today? What might be their message to you today?
So I'm curious. I'm curious. What came up for you? What came up for you? What message did you receive from this person? And you're welcome to enter, you know, the snapshots into what came up for you in the chat. So I'll share I'll go first. For me, when I walked myself through this exercise, and it just like, okay, when I think of the word leader, who comes to mind, what comes to mind? And then I saw a man in a suit.
But then I asked myself, okay, but in whose presence have I felt empowered, inspired, acknowledged? And I felt like, yeah, I want to take action. I'm like, Oh, that's my friend. There's a friend that I know, who's also, you know, in my mind, she's, she's a thought leader in her space. Yeah, her name is Simone. I'm like, thinking of Simone. Yeah. And then I asked, okay, what's her message to me today? For just imagine what's her message to me today realize? Her message to me today is just like, Be human. Yeah.
Okay, yeah. You're so kind to think of me that way. You can do this too. Yes. Thank you for sharing. Brooke. That's a really good one. Yeah.
For me, leadership is. For me, it's a bit of a mixed bag. You know, as a woman of color, I kind of find myself having to walk a very narrow tightrope. So
I'm gonna pause you here. Yes. Okay. So take me to the last specific time you felt you're walking a tightrope as a woman of color.
Oh, there's so many times to count. But no, it was one. Yeah, there was. There was one in particular were like maybe a couple of companies back. I was working at a medical device company, based here in Woburn. And I found myself in a situation where I was really the only one with a particular set of skills in in the department. And I'm
going to, I'm just going to ask you a pointed question. Take me to that moment. And where are you physically? What are you seeing? What are you hearing in the moment? You're like, Oh, I gotta walk a tightrope.
But in a predominantly the RSA white space where I'm relieved The only will not the only woman of color, but in particular, the only black woman. And I kind of feel as though I stand out, even though, what I want in the moment is to sort of blend in and kind of be like everyone else.
Got it. Okay, thank you. And I've been there. I was the only woman of color, the only woman at the senior leadership table, and the guys are all going to lunch and they never asked anyone else it'll like. Yeah, so I'm gonna ask you, again, to a strange exercise with me might be find out. Okay. So I ask you to imagine there is a movie screen. Right? Like this big. This big, right? And on this movie screen, I want you to project that image that you're seeing in your mind's eye of that moment in time. Right. And so in that image, what do you see?
Do you see other kinds of faces? Do you? Yeah,
yeah, I do see other people's faces. That I kind of. I kind of feel as though in that movie screen, that you're asking me to envision that I see other people that I kind of see myself off to the side. So it's like I'm there. But I'm not really there.
Okay. Awesome. But notice that you are the director of this movie. Image is what you are in control up. You can direct it, you can edit it, right? You can change it. And so Oh, another question. Is this image in color? Or is it black and white?
Yes, in Technicolor, yeah.
Okay, so now I'm just gonna ask you to pan the camera in such a way that we see you in the center of the screen. Okay, now, as you see you in the center of the screens around other people, right. Now, I don't really want you to see yourself standing or sitting taller. Yeah, cuz just by like, having met you once. I know that you're somebody who has a lot of experience. A lot of know how you're really like quick on your feet. Yeah. And you're always well dressed. Okay, no, no, I'm having met you twice so far. Okay. So now what you see in the screen, see yourself stand sitting taller, looking sharp, ready, prepared, because what I do know about women of color and positions of leadership's is they're always over prepared. Always. You're prepared? Yeah. And so now as you see this image in your mind's eye, right? Is there a color? Again, right? If we were to think about confidence is a color is there a color you want to send? To that younger you
think the color I want to send would be blue like navy blue.
Nice. Okay, so you get to pick Do you want to, you know, inject that color all over the entire screen? Or do you want to inject it in one place that that really pops? What do you want to do?
Probably in the one place that really pops? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And
where would that go? Ah, is it on you? Or is it Yeah, probably. Yeah. yourself. Sitting tall. Right. Looking great. Dress Sharp, prepared. And right. Just just looking really regal in that blue. Yeah. And now when you see this image, what does that feel for you?
It injects it in it kind of gives me a confidence to to You, too, to really express myself to kind of speak up? Yes, a bit.
I love that. I love it. So let's just like because this is your movie your screen, you're the director, we're going to zoom into the screen, okay? And I want you to imagine that you could just walk right in and feel what it's like to feel confident to speak up. Right, knowing that you're prepared that you look good.
Right. So from there, as you feel what it's like, to have that confidence in you look around the room. What's that? Like? For you?
A bit empowering. I would have to say a bit.
Okay, so, um, okay, so, okay, anyways, do you mean there are no controls for the video? Might be like, controls. Now. There are no other controls. These are all like imagined controls. All right. So I want you to come back to here. And now I'm going to ask you, you know, you're going to be in other rooms. This is? Yes. This is the reality when you are a woman of the global majority. Right. You walk into these rooms are people that are in positions of leadership, and you're going to be one of you. Yeah. So talk to me how you want to feel going stepping into those rooms?
How do I want to feel? That's a tough one. I think what I want to feel is sort of seen. Yeah. In heard. Yeah. In respected? Yeah, I think the scene in the herd thing, probably. I can only speak for myself is really sort of the hardest hurdle that I have to clear. Well,
I'm curious. Did you join at the beginning of this call when I asked you to think about these three questions?
So now I'm curious, who came to mind when you thought about in whose presence have I felt? Acknowledged, empowered, inspired, who came to your mind?
An old colleague that I used to work with years ago, and strangely enough, he was an older white man. Yeah. And, and I kind of felt that, because I worked very closely with him. He was sort of my direct manager. He was my line manager. I kind of felt, at least from him. Yeah, I felt that, that, that I was someone who had something of value to contribute. And he respected that.
So I'm going to ask you to now go to a moment in time. Right in the past, you're there in person with him. And here you are, right. Across Generations across racial differences. You're feeling that professional respect. Yeah. And you're hearing him say the words it says, [inaudible], I respect you. I appreciate the work you do. And you're receiving that in. Yeah, yeah. And when you receive that in, how does that feel?
It feels validating, in a way. I kind of feel. Well, what's the adjectives I'm searching for? I think the attitude that I'm searching for is that I feel I feel validated.
Beautiful. Let's go with validated. So as you feel what it's like to be validated right here right now. Now, when you think about the next time you walk into that room what is that like for you?
Yeah. It really is. Yeah. And I'm going to ask you to do this exercise with me. Okay. And I want everyone here to do this with me. I know some of my current and former clients are here. I love you guys. I want you to practice with me. And I know you know, some people already booked consultations with me, so do this with me. Okay. I'm gonna ask them Arleen and everyone follow along to shift your seat like 45 degrees so that you're not looking at me directly. Now, I want you to pick a focal spot in your room that you can really like focus on. And now I want you to focus really like intently on that spot, and feel what it's like to really focus on it. Okay. And now I'm going to ask you to soften. Oh, really? You're going to do this with your eyes open?
Yeah, I have my eyes.
I'm sorry. Oh, that's okay. So now I'm going to ask you to soften your gaze, right, so diffuse your focus. And as you do that, now shift your own awareness to the periphery of your vision. without moving your eyes. Notice what you notice. When I do this with my clients, they tell me they start to become aware of the ambient noise in the room. start becoming aware of the temperature of the room. And they just noticed that the chatter in their mind quiets down, they start to feel just a little bit calmer. Yeah. And so continue to just shift your awareness to the periphery of revision, almost as if you can feel the energy of the space behind you. What do you notice?
Are you asking me? Yeah, Martin? Oh. Yeah, that that felt really grounding to me. Yeah, it did.
Great. So Leona asked what is the self directed neuroplasticity tool that was one, right? That's a tool that you can use, right? Because you're not wrong for feeling intimidated, right. But what that means is our nervous system is getting activated. Because of things that we have experienced or witnessed in the past, right. But at the same time, we want to bring more grounding into the future. What has been won't always be in the future, right? And you have agency and bringing that calm energy, even when you are the only black woman. And I have taught this tool to clients who feel like you know, he they get misjudge they, you know, they feel triggered, right? And you i You can do this. You can do this while looking at the person's face, but make that focal spot their third eye. Right. Now, it's less intimidating. And this is also engaging your parasympathetic nervous system. Right? Yeah. Okay. So my suggestion for you, I want you to take this tool and practice it. Whenever you feel like, Oh, I'm getting a little intimidated because just one of the few are the only right. You have agency to bring that grounding to yourself in that moment. How does that sound?
Sounds great. It really does. Yeah, and it makes sense.
Yeah. Awesome. Okay. I think you've got this. Yeah. Yep, I do. As an executive coach for women. I'm super passionate about helping smart women who hate office politics get promoted and better paid. I do this through my unique combination of number one self directed neuroplasticity tools, backed by science. Number two negotiation strategies proven to work for women by academic research. And number three intersectional feminist lens that honors women's lived experiences. To learn more about my one on one coaching series and to book your free hour long consultation with me. Come on over to Jamie Lee coach.com/apply. It's Jamie Lee coach.com/apply JAM i e l e c o ach.com/apply. Talk soon.