Blog - Management speak

Leveraging your strengths

Joella Bruckshaw wonders why women hold back when selling themselves and provides a map to help them do so.

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I was at the networking event of a well known high street bank recently, when I found myself chatting to a senior analyst who was telling me she was very soon expecting to be interviewed for a new internal role. She explained that she was nervous because she knew at the interview she would need to make the links between her skills and the competencies required in the new role and be able to demonstrate, with examples, the contribution this made to the organisation’s objectives. She was rigid with anxiety at the prospect of having to perform in this way. This was a senior and highly competent individual!

What stops women?


Her experience made me wonder what happens to women that makes it so difficult for them to account for themselves when it comes to defining what they bring to an organisation?  Indeed, many women find themselves in the same boat including myself. I find it challenging, when put on the spot, to give a good account of myself. It's almost as if as if we feel we don't have permission to do that.


Intuitive personal branding


Whatever the reason it's a fact of life for many women, so it seemed to me a worthy ambition to find ways of supporting women to be in touch with their unique qualities so they can comfortably convey them to others, especially when their promotion and remuneration depend on it. That's why I came up with intuitive personal branding, which uses images to help women (and men) get back in touch with what they already know to be true about themselves and use that knowledge to inform their decisions and actions.


Personal image


The analyst asked me if I could help her perform better at the interview. I assured her I could and last week we sat down with my pack of 50 thought provoking image cards. I always carry them with me as they provide a perfect way of accessing the more instinctive and emotional part of the brain that holds our unconsciously self-knowledge. I invited her to choose three she immediately noticed and I chose one that represented what she evoked in me. The discussion that followed was very revealing. Triggered by each image, she shared with me things that were important to her and how they all fitted together. In turn I shared my image and how it expressed for me the way she came across. A simple exercise with a powerful outcome, as we were able to acknowledge in a way that was meaningful and energising, how she relates to the world. She characterised it as ‘having the knowledge to do an excellent job in the context of deeper human understanding.’


An authentic story


Just stating her ‘strap line’ had an amazing effect. It gave her a connected up sense of herself that was easy to express because it had become real to her. She was just telling her story which she recognised as authentic. It gave her a willingness and capacity to remember the occasions when something she had done went exceptionally well, and how her contribution had made that happen. It was then but a small step to map that knowledge across to the competencies so she could come across well at the interview.


What happened at the interview?


Later she told me the interview was easier than expected and she was confident she had acquitted herself in a way she was proud of. Now she awaits the outcome knowing she performed at her best and I believe she has a much better chance of getting the new role.

What I have described is such a subtle shift but a shift that makes all the difference to how we see and present ourselves. My financial analyst connected with who she was at an emotional level in what for her was a very real way. When she did, in that moment she aligned with herself in a way she will not forget.


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