Communication Strategies for Female Leaders Who Want to Stand Out #SHRM2019

I’m a recent college graduate with a degree in communications and journalism. Rather than dive right into corporate America, I chose the nontraditional freelance route and launched my own marketing consulting company, LoCo Marketing. I also started a blog with my sister, called sisterlyblondes where we focus on empowering young women. Since leadership and communication are always on my mind, I was excited to get the chance to attend the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference – and when I saw this session on the agenda, I added it to my schedule immediately because I want to learn more about my own communication style and how I can grow as a leader. 

Communicate Your Way to the Top: Communication Strategies for Female Leaders Who Want to Stand Out presented by Carol Leonie Maria Schulte, Facilitator, Living BIG, Toronto promised to educate us on effective communication strategies to be assertive and authentic, so we can speak up, stand up, and stand out. I’d like to review some of the things I learned that apply to my work and communication style here, but the TL;DR version is that this session did what it pledged to do.

The quality of our life is directly related to the quality of our communication. - Carol Schulte #femaleleaders #communication Click To Tweet

Effective communication as a female leader in the workplace is a skill that’s more than beneficial—it’s essential. Shulte covered what we need to focus on as female leaders and how communication is not only verbal but also vocal and visual.  The misconception is that communication is only what is said with words, but realistically that is only 7% of how we portray our message to others. Schulte says, 38% is vocal think the tone of our voice, volume, and pace. 55% is with visuals so the gestures, eye contact, facial expressions. 

I’m passionate about communication, marketing, and behavioral science. This means I like to give advice, but it also means that I’m a forever-learner. I don’t think I will ever reach a point in my career where I can sit back and say I’m confident that I know everything; in fact, I chose a field in which knowing everything isn’t possible, especially in the digital landscape.

What I have learned as a freelancer is that I will always have something to learn. Running your freelance projects and tasks like a business is crucial, which means having a business plan in place, opening a separate bank account, and having the proper software to track your profits and losses for tax purposes. I didn’t go to business school, so I learned all of these things from doing research and reaching out to mentors in my field.

I noticed that, when I was seeking information, I tended to reach out to women in my industry. From the outside, it might seem like I did so because women are more open to other women asking questions (there’s no data to support this). In fact, men are equally as likely to support peers. One thing that really stood out to me at this SHRM session is Schluter had us complete this sentence, “If I were braver I would _______.” 

Learn to say no. 

Start before I felt 100% ready.

Stop striving for perfection.

These were just a few of my answers. Communication starts with bravery by going for it

Be vulnerable, be brave, be uncomfortable - Carol Schulte #femaleleaders Click To Tweet

Communication is my job, and I was surprised at how much I took away from this learning session. Digital marketing, social media, design, branding, and strategy are at the heart of what I do every day, but I’m also passionate about nonprofits, entrepreneurship, startups, and community engagement. This means my communication style suits me being my own boss. I work with clients as partners, but at the end of the day, what my workday looks like is up to me.  

Because like tends to attract like, and as I mentioned above, I tend to choose mentors and support networks made up of women who are more like me, it’s important to me to be able to understand how to most effectively work with people who are the opposite of me in every way, as well as understand and empathize with many different personality types.

I loved the bit on passive, assertive and aggressive communication on the spectrum of communication. On one end you have passive and on the other you have aggressive. Which we all know or have worked with people who are passive-aggressive, no one wants to be surrounded by them much less have them as a leader. The “sweet spot” along this spectrum is in the middle where you are assertive. Stop saying “I just” “I think” or “I’m sorry” be confident and assertive and you will rise up. This is something I need to continuously work on. One bit of advice I wrote in a post to my sister as she prepared to go off to college: Stand up for yourself and for others. A college is a big place, it’s easy to lose yourself. If you don’t like something- change it, if you see something going on that shouldn’t- stop it. Don’t change yourself for someone else or to fit a mold because you are YOU for a reason!

Sometimes it’s easy not to speak up (passive). Sometimes we get so passionate about something we attempt to charge it head-on (aggressive). Being assertive means setting boundaries and sticking to them, being cool-headed but steadfast when we have to take a stand. And as women in the workplace, we always have to take a stand.

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Lauren Lindemulder

Lauren Lindemulder

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