Taking Up a Small Space Lessens Women’s Credibility as Leaders

Portland’s Greek Festival was last week. The food, smells and music all bring back childhood memories for me, so it has become a family tradition to attend the festival. On the days we go, the rest of Portland also tries to squeeze itself into the area around the Greek Orthodox Church.

But, the crowds do not deter us.

My daughters and I have developed and efficient system. We buy tickets for food, manage the lines to get what we want and negotiate the congregating crowds with skill.

At no time do we try to be as small as possible. On the contrary, we approach the crowds with a keen eye for gaps and opportunity. We hardly ever bump into anyone unless they bump into us. We are alert, confident and mission-bound. The result is that we are able to enjoy our time there. We always find a place to sit with enough space for us to enjoy our food and the ambiance. Typically, we also feel victorious for doing so without being pushed around by the milling mass of people who frequent the festival.

Minimizing is the 9th habit in the book How Women Rise. The authors found that women typically will try to accommodate others when space is an issue. In doing so, they minimize the physical space they take up. By drawing in their belongings and even their arms, women who do this diminish their executive presence and credibility significantly. When appearing to be small, the subconscious perception is that of insignificance.

To be seen as a credible leader or representative of an opinion, you have to learn to own your space. This does not reduce your capacity to be inclusive and considerate. It is possible without minimizing yourself.

If this is one of your habits, start practicing taking your executive presence seriously by acknowledging that you deserve a place at the table.

I can suggest ways to do this without feeling guilty or uncomfortable. Email me today.

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