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Secret weapons for success in business

30 January 2017

Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk Power Poses changed the way I thought about the power of presence – my presence and the presence of others. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one to be profoundly affected.

The science underlying her findings about body-mind effects is enthralling and easy to enact in your own life, often with stunning success.

Ruby has uncovered a few secret courses and pieces of advice to help you approach the big challenges with confidence instead of dread, and leave those challenges satisfied with the outcome.

Anna Ross a partner at the law firm Corrs Chambers Wesgarth, says the most significant advice she has received came from a senior female partner that she worked for when she was a junior Senior Associate: “She had a strong view that women did not succeed as often as men because they generally underestimated, second guessed and doubted themselves. She constantly pulled me up if I failed to offer an opinion or make a recommendation, either when it was just her and I or in meetings with clients/barristers, etc. Her view was you had to practice being confident, asserting yourself and never apologising for things a man wouldn’t (taking a discussion in a new direction, interrupting, having a different point of view, being unable to be available, refusing a discount, etc.). Only if you consciously practised those behaviours would those characteristics become part of how you operated. However, she was also a stickler for excellence and preparation. She was not at all into the “fake it til you make it” philosophy. If you were going to offer an opinion or make a recommendation, you needed to prepare/think and plan in advance of important meetings – particularly if you were still building your confidence and reputation. I have adopted (sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously) much of her advice.”

When it comes to the world of work and getting a job, the word on the ground is 2017 will be about hiring for character, not skills.

You probably won’t be asked to explain a project you worked on but rather: “what did you do when a project didn’t go well?” Your answer provides an insight into character as well as competence.

Mary Liu - Associate, Student Entrepreneur Development at UNSW Innovations, thinks taking a Gap Year is a great strategy: “Gap Years provide life and work experience. Employers look at your qualifications but what they really want is evidence of your ability to do the work.”

Work Integrated Learning placements, also known as internships, are crucial for providing people with their first taste of the ultra-competitive working world. An internship provides a chance to gain a competitive advantage by giving you experience in the field, increasing your chances as a candidate and helping you understand whether your expectations of your chosen field of endeavour and the job, itself, match up.

Graduate programs, university career development programs, TAFE, and organisations such as Performance Education Group, work to facilitate workplace placements which develop skills such as professional business communication, workplace readiness and career skills.

Getting and developing your personal style - while also keeping in mind the requirements of your workplace - is an important skill. Like it or not, women have a more complex time of it when it comes to dressing for work and success. The one-suit fits all doesn’t cut if for women, and even with Casual-Friday-every-day on the rise, Empowerment Dressing can create confidence.

Dijanna Mulhearn of Wardrobe101 has some great tips on developing your personal style and integrity dressing. Number 1 for her is: “Love yourself now. Don’t wait until you are happier with your shape to make an effort with your look. Work with what you have now and know that all shapes are beautiful. Feeling depressed about the way you look makes it harder for you to reach your goals.”

When speaking to women leaders about the secrets of their success, public speaking and presentation, negotiation and communication skills are courses that get quoted again and again.

For example: NIDA Corporate offers public courses in leadership, presentation, including digital, public speaking, communications skills, negotiation, networking, and media training. These courses are available for individuals to enrol online.

Scheduled throughout the year in Sydney and Melbourne, NIDA Corporate’s workshops can enhance leadership style, improve communication and interpersonal skills in a variety of contexts, or provide practical public speaking tips and presentation techniques.

NIDA’s corporate training is practical and challenging, allowing you to explore and develop your own communication style and take your skills to the next level.

Book or call 1300 650 357 to discuss.

The Australian Graduate School of Management has had a long association with Ruby through our Mary Reibey Scholarships. Winners attend AGSM’s General Manager live-in, week-long course. Winners say the course content has been eye-opening and that the networks they develop offer ongoing support for them, their careers and business development.

Drawing on the systemic areas of politics, ethics, leadership and the need to establish a global mindset, the program’s emphasis is to develop a holistic leader who has self-reflective capabilities combined with strategic thinking. The overall aim is to provide senior managers with perspectives, practices and tools to manage competing priorities in an increasingly complex work environment.

The General Manager program is one among a plethora of courses offered by AGSM.

Many people also reveal their secret weapon for success has been having a coach, a mentor and/or a hero/sponsor.

The ‘mentoring’ relationship is defined as one that provides the person with psychosocial support. ‘Sponsorship’, on the other hand, “involves proactive instrumental help to advance a person’s career”.

Sounds rather clinical and just a little bit intimidating, but it isn’t. Mentoring is a regular catch-up with someone internal or external to an organisation, preferably, someone you admire and aspire to be like. Mentors don't tend to see you day to day and, provide more arms’ length advice or an outside perspective.

Sponsoring includes putting your name forward for a non-executive director position or new role; acting as your referee for years beyond when you worked for them, and keeping you in mind for future opportunities.

Sponsors visibly ally themselves with you and champion you – in good or bad times.