Friday, October 4, 2013

Advancing Your Career With Leadership Presence

This was one of the last sessions of the Grace Hopper Conference, and honestly, I was pretty exhausted. It has been 3 full days of back-to-back interesting sessions, networking, dinners, and dance party! But, I did sign up to blog this session. So, I found a comfy spot in the Ballroom where this session was held, and was all set with my fancy touchscreen laptop (Thank you Microsoft! :-))!

Pat Kirkland arrived, and the room lit up the moment she spoke her first sentence "Leaders are ALWAYS looking for leaders". Pat was incredibly energetic and had an amazing stage presence. She went on "What is presence?". There were some responses from the room, and she then explained "Presence is…the social power granted to you by virtue of how you show up".

Before I blog about the session, here is some intro about Pat-
Pat is the founder of Skills to Success, Inc. and creator of the Predator, Prey Partner™ model, Pat Kirkland learned about communication challenges early in life. She comes from a family of seven children where communication and chaos were synonymous. Pat has worked with over 10,000 business professionals worldwide since 1990. Pat is an entrepreneur, consultant, coach, speaker and…. a character. Her passion and energy are contagious. She readily admits everything she teaches comes from her own personal challenge to move beyond poised, polished and professional to become funny, frank, and unforgettable!
As you might be aware, this session is about advancing your career with leadership presence.  Pat then explained what are the 4 qualities that define a good leader. A leader needs to be:
  • Confident
  • Capable
  • Adaptable
  • Approachable

So, how do we understand how others perceive us?

She started with a perception exercise where each one of us had to pick a partner. Each one of us had to behave according to few keywords put up on the screen (the other person does not know what our keywords are!!). The exercise is to perceive the other person based on his/her non-verbal behavior.

The keywords were as follows:

Person A

    • Keep eye contact
    • Still body
    • No Smile
    Person B
    • Avoid eye contact
    • Fidget a LOT!
    • Smile a LOT!
    I got to be the Person A in the exercise, and my partner was amazing!! She acted so well that it actually made me laugh a bit :-)

    We later learnt that this exercise is infact called the Predator-Prey-Partner exercise. They both form the extreme ends of the behavior scale where predators are rude, aggressive, and arrogant; and Prey is indecisive, and unable to focus. I can imagine how would it be when these two extreme behaviors need to work together. The amicable behavior is somewhere in the middle, which is called the Partner behavior.

    • Keep eye contact
    • Maintain a still body
    • And also, smile (not a lot though!)

    Pat says that we play the invisible power game with every person we meet in our day-to-day lives. The rules of the invisible power game being,
    • We judge the person based on the 1st 30 seconds of every relationship
    • Non-verbal (subconscious) behavior impacts a lot of our perception
    • This in fact determines who has control (i.e., if you are the predator or the prey)

    So, what are some signals of being a Predator?
    Extreme Competence Behaviors
    • Condescending tone
    • No facial expression
    • Impersonal manner
    • Over emphasizing words
    • Using negative words
    • Fast pace
    Payoff: Get results
    Cost: Sabotage trust and relationships

    Likewise, we have some Prey signals too
    Like-Ability Behaviors
    • Avoiding eye contact
    • Head tilt
    • Fidgeting
    • Raised eyebrows
    • Upward inflection
    • Low volume
    • Rambling "and…and…."
    Payoff: Maintain relationships

    So, it is obvious that we need to be somewhere in the middle of these two signals, which brings us to the Partner signals.

    Competence              +                   
    Direct eye contact
        Smile (any size will do)      
    Downward inflection in tone
        Using people's names

    Still body
        Upbeat energy

    Neutral stance
        Friendly tone


    Louder than avg volume

    Payoff: Get results and strengthen relationships
    Cost: Practicing partner behavior and attitude

    So, here is a quick recap image:

    Pat then gave us some practical tips that will help us practice the partner behavior
    1. Power Postures:
    • How to sit at the table
      • Cross your legs, sit at an angle, hands a bit apart, hands on the table
      • Look confident + relaxed
    1. Standing under fire
    • Be in neutral stance
      • Feet at 10 inches apart, one foot slightly at an angle, shoulders apart and relaxed, have a neutral face and don’t smile
      • What NOT to do: Hands crossed in the front/ fidgeting with things, hands crossed at the back shows under arrest symptoms
    1. Owning the room
    • Entry into the room
      • Walk confidently, greet everyone with a confident smile, have eye contact with everyone
      • Talk in a loud volume and don’t tilt your head
      • Don’t move your hands or fidget with them while you talk

    I found these practical tips incredibly useful. By the end of the session, I did realize that I exhibit some predator and some prey qualities and I need to work on those to become a good partner. Do reach out to Pat if you want her to hold a session in your organization:

    Pat Kirkland
    Skills to Success, Inc.

    Happy Reading!

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