Cracking the Confidence Code

One of the greatest barriers for women is our reticence to raise our hands, ask for what we want and be noticed. This lack of confidence appears as a weakness. It makes women seem less comfortable with risk taking and decisiveness, both of which are critical competencies for senior leaders.

The Confidence EffectRight now many people are asking why women have a crisis of confidence. My reply is that it’s not as important for a woman in the workforce today crack the code or to know “why” she lacks confidence; it’s much more critical to provide her with the tools to course correct. It is NOT too late to learn the skills to make you appear more confident even if all the internal factors are not addressed. Some people call this “faking it ‘til you make it.” I say “suit up, show up and start where you are.” The appearance of confidence is as beneficial as actually feeling confident.

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About the Author

Grace KilleleaGrace Killelea is founder and CEO of Half The Sky Leadership Institute, a program that develops high potential women and builds critical leadership skills. She is a former Fortune 50 company SVP of Talent, a skilled executive coach and sought after keynote speaker. Grace is also author of the highly anticipated title, The Confidence Effect: Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success. Connect with her on the Web at and

Professional Development Best Practice 6 – Peer Coaches

Peer CoachesAn individual’s manager should seek to provide ongoing performance feedback. This, however, is not always the case. Even high performing managers may, at times, be challenged by time constraints or have so many direct reports that it is not possible to provide each individual the amount of feedback desire. Additionally, the StrategyDriven Professional recognizes that performance is best evaluated by several different individuals, each possessing unique perspectives and having demonstrated competency in the areas to be assessed. Consequently, the professional needs others to provide feedback to cover management’s gaps and provide multiple perspectives.

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StrategyDriven Podcast Episode 42 – Acquiring Management Experience

StrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Episode 42 – Acquiring Management Experience focuses on how to gain management experience even if one does not currently hold a management position. Next, we’ll explore how to convey this experience such that it opens the doors to a management position within one’s organization. During our discussion, Wendy Powell, author of Management Experience Acquired: Necessary Skills for Successfully Managing Any Employee, shares with us her insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • the opportunities to ascend into management given today’s economic conditions
  • what organization leaders are seeking in their managerial candidates
  • how to gain management experience when one does not hold the position of manager
  • how to effectively convey one’s management experience so to be considered for such a position
  • how to overcome the ‘tenure barrier’ to promotion

Additional Information

In addition to the incredible insights Wendy shares in Management Experience Acquired and this podcast are the resources accessible from her website,   Wendy’s book, Management Experience Acquired, can be purchased by clicking here.

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Thank you again for listening to the StrategyDriven Podcast!

About the Author

Wendy Powell is the author of Management Experience Acquired. With more than twenty-five years of human resource and management consulting experience, Wendy has spent most of her career at the University of Michigan. She is currently on the business faculty at both Palm Beach State College and the University of Phoenix. A member of the Society of Human Resource Management, she received a leadership award in 2002 from the Midwest College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. She is routinely featured on The Huffington Post and has appeared on Fox Business’s The Strategy Room. Wendy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management and a Master of Arts degree in organizational management.

Training is out. Education is in. Are you in or out?

There are no two companies that train alike. Some go all out. Some do little or none. From my personal observation over the past five years, training (especially sales training) is in decline. Training budgets follow the economy and corporate profits.

I wince at the word training, because I have always associated it with lions and elephants. The word education seems more appropriate.

Training teaches you, ‘how.’
Education teaches you, ‘why.’

The person who knows HOW will always have a job. The person who knows WHY will always be his boss. (Although many people claim to be the author of this quote, it was originally written by Ralph Waldo Emerson around 1870. Emerson used ‘man’ rather than the PC version ‘person.’)

REALITY: Most companies provide salespeople initial (minimal) training of essential product knowledge and basic sales skills. Big deal. Then the real world kicks in and the salesperson is expected to produce without the real skills he or she needs to ‘make plan’ or ‘achieve quota’ before they ‘get fired.’

Pile on the facts that customers have situations, barriers, problems, and objections not covered in training, while the boss is demanding ‘cold calls’ and all kinds of accountability. If you combine those elements with zero attitude training, low belief sysyem, and constant rejection, it’s no wonder early turnover in some companies (maybe yours) EXCEEDS 25%.

What to do?

Here is list of the major categories that need to be included in the training/education of your sales force in order to retain good people and achieve your sales objectives:

CAUTION: This list will require your company to make a serious investment in the education of people and salespeople – but take heart, whatever the money involved, it pales in comparison to the cost of employee turnover.

  • Personal development skills. Attitude comes before sales success. Positive attitude, followed by the five parts of belief, and classes on achievement and listening. Educate employees to make them better people BEFORE you throw them into the market.
  • Communication skills. How to speak and how to write are at the fulcrum of sales success. Poor communication skills OR poor writing skills will lead to failure faster than anything other than poor attitude.
  • Buying motives. Why people buy is almost never taught, yet it’s THE most powerful concept a salesperson can possess. Teach it at your best customer’s place of business.
  • Product knowledge. It’s not an option to make your salespeople experts before they hit the road or the phone. Teach it at your best customer’s place of business.
  • Personal presentation skills. Getting your compelling message transferred and “bought” is an essential aspect of salesmanship.
  • Laptop and tablet (iPad) presentation skills. If you have the tool, and you’re not the master of it, you will miss the marginal sale. If you don’t have the tool, you’ll miss a ton of sales.
  • Selling skills. Asking engaging questions and establishing relationships – the basic science of selling. BUT the elements above need to be understood BEFORE selling skills can be learned, let alone applied.
  • Smart phone skills. This is the communication device of the present and the near future. It must be mastered.
  • Voicemail skills. How are you at creating one, and leaving one? Two of the biggest enigmas of the modern sales era.
  • Value messaging skills. Weekly emails, blog posts, and tweets to existing customers and prospects to stay “top-of-mind.”
  • Pipeline building. How to build the number of qualified and expected sales. At the end of the month, a full pipelne ensures you’ll exceed plan.
  • Customer service skills. How to be memorable enough to create word-of-mouth advertising and unsolicited referrals.
  • Loyalty actions. Going the extra mile. Being WOW! By your actions, creating positive word of mouth advertising.
  • Customer uses of product and services skills. How the customer uses what you sell in order to produce and profit.
  • Customer perspective skills. How the customer views things and how the customer wants to be treated.
  • Business social media. No longer an option. No longer possible to ignore its power. Not just for the company, also for the individual.
  • Networking and relationship building. Getting face-to-face with customers and prospects on a regular basis. Network for sales AND relationship building.
  • Personal promotional skills. How to market yourself so that others will call you first. This is a combination of corporate support and personal (online) branding.
  • Past history of company and product (even if it’s a service). Knowing the history of your company and product or service will help put much of the prospet’s fear and unspoken risk to rest.
  • Continuing education. Once you start, you must make a commitment to continue as long as you exist.
    StrategyDriven Contributors find online schools, like Indiana Wesleyan, make it easy for business professionals to schedule continuing education classes around their busy schedules.

This list is the MINIMUM requirement for salespeople to be prepared to succeed. But my best guess is that you are not educating or being educated in most of these critical elements. WHY?

There are no good reasons other than cost of training. And cost is a weak argument at best as the competition heats up their recruiting and training efforts.

And of course you’re going to want to measure the returns on your investment. Luckily in sales, ROI is the easiest part. Here’s an ROI reality: subtract last month’s sales from this month’s sales, and this month last year from this month’s sales and compare the results. You might also want to measure employee retention.

In sales all you have to do is measure reality. How’s yours?

Reprinted with permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.

About the Author

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, Customer Satisfaction is Worthless Customer Loyalty is Priceless, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, The Little Black Book of Connections, The Little Gold Book of YES! Attitude, The Little Green Book of Getting Your Way, The Little Platinum Book of Cha-Ching, The Little Teal Book of Trust, The Little Book of Leadership, and Social BOOM! His website,, will lead you to more information about training and seminars, or email him personally at [email protected].

How to Prepare Yourself for the Executive Chair

Comedian Steve Martin once said that if you want to be a millionaire, the first thing you have to do is get a million dollars. Most advice for positioning yourself for executive positions mirrors Martin’s sentiments: If you want to land in the executive chair, the first thing you need to do is get executive experience. I’ll counter with my own observation: If you want to land in the executive chair, start planning to do so when you’re in high school.

Landing in the Executive Chair: How to Excel in the Hot Seat
by Linda Henman


In today’s fast-paced, unprecedented, and unpredictable economy, many executives simply don’t know what to do. Conventional methods-which many never entirely understood in the first place-often don’t work during economic upheaval. Executives, especially CEOs, need something better. They need a guide that identifies the roadblocks and points out the landmines. In her more than 30 years of working with hundreds of executives, Dr. Linda Henman has observed the critical elements of success, both for the new leader and the one who aspires to the next level of success. In Landing in the Executive Chair, you’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid the pitfalls and identify a clear plan for personal and organizational stress.
  • Leverage the first months in a new executive position- that time of transition that promises opportunity and challenge, but also brings a period of great vulnerability.
  • Create a competitive advantage, set the right tone, make effective decisions, keep talent inside your doors, and establish credibility-all while navigating unfamiliar and turbulent waters.

As organizations expand and grow, the skills that led to success often won’t sustain further development in a more complex, high-stakes environment. Present and future executives need more. They need Landing in the Executive Chair.

Too late? Then, start preparation now. These ideas will help:

  1. If you didn’t have the advantages of a stellar education, remedy that situation. Study history, literature, art, music, and foreign languages. Begin today to augment your liberal arts knowledge, because doing so will help you with creative problem solving, conversation, and life balance.
  2. Address the nuts and bolts of business too. If you don’t understand finance and accounting, enroll in a course immediately. With so many online options, there’s really no excuse to overlook this essential building block to your success.
  3. Read. Read the Wall Street Journal and your local paper every day. If your city has a weekly business journal, read that too. Read your leading-edge industry publications, Forbes, other finance journals, and popular business books. At any given time, you should have read at least two books on the best seller list. In addition to giving you valuable information, this reading will make you a more interesting person.
  4. Map out a path to the executive position you want. How did others get there? Position yourself for each rung on the ladder; take the requisite training; learn the relevant skills; and acquire the needed experience.
  5. If you don’t hold a finance or operations position, consider cross training. Will the CEO allow you to work in these arenas for a short time? You’ll need this sort of groundwork for upward mobility. You can read books about HR and marketing, but getting your head in and hands on the finances and operations will pay huge premiums later on.
  6. If you hold an HR position, get out as soon as you can. HR professionals tend to hit both glass walls and glass ceilings. They find that they can’t get promoted outside the HR function, and that road seldom leads to the executive chair.
  7. Look the part. Everything about you should scream ‘Success!’ Dress well. Get a good haircut. Surround yourself with quality objects: car, pen, shoes, brief case, etc. If you’re uncertain about points of etiquette, hire a coach. If you’re out of shape, get a trainer. In short, send the message that you’ll be 100% at home in the C-suite, boardroom, or country club.
  8. Get a mentor. The military, better than many civilian organizations I’ve worked with, understands the value of committing to high potentials – a commitment that turns those who may not have reached their potential into top performers. Many senior military officers begin mentoring future candidates when those would-be generals are still captains. Use this best practice for yourself. Find someone inside or outside your organization who has achieved what you aspire to do. Ask them to give you advice when you need it. Few will refuse to drink a cup of coffee with you while you pick their brains. Instead, they will feel flattered.
  9. Get a coach. In the world of professional athletics, no one questions the value of coaching top performers, yet in business, the stigma seems to linger that those who need coaching must be ‘at risk.’ I have built my entire business model on the opposite approach, however. As ‘the virtuoso coach,’ I only work with high potentials.
    Recently the St. Louis Cardinals added former Cardinal player John Mabry to their roster of batting coaches. Mark McGuire will continue to coach the right-handed batters, and Mabry will concentrate on the left-handers. This focused approach should serve as the gold standard for hiring business coaches too. High potentials should hire specialized business coaches who have built successful businesses themselves and who have developed a proven track record for helping others get promoted.
  10. Conduct your private life with uncompromising integrity. Unlike some of the aforementioned, you have 100% control over this. No one can rob you of your integrity, but you can give it away. I have seen so many high potentials derail themselves from a seemingly-sure path to success with bad decisions in their personal lives. Assume everything you do will make the front page, because some day it just might.

As the Baby Boomers leave executive positions in droves, others will need to ascend the corporate ladder, but too few have actively prepared themselves. No matter when you plan to climb the next rungs of the ladder, now is the time to start planning.

About the Author

Dr. Linda Henman, the catalyst for virtuoso organizations, is the author of Landing in the Executive Chair, among other works. She is an expert on setting strategy, planning succession, and developing talent. For more than 30 years she has helped executives and boards in Fortune 500 Companies and privately-held organizations dramatically grow their businesses. She was one of eight succession planning experts who worked directly with John Tyson after his company’s acquisition of International Beef Products. Some of her other clients include Emerson Electric, Avon, Kraft Foods, Edward Jones, and Boeing. She can be reached in St. Louis at