I’ve been diving into the whole area of presence and leadership lately. These are issues my clients are interested in and grapple with and that I find my work with them increasingly touches upon. Plus, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ll also say that they’re issues I grapple with myself. Like most women, I face doubt and insecurity sometimes when it comes to my abilities and skills.
So these two books, I felt, were perfect for both me and my clients.
The Confidence Effect is a good primer on the topic of women’s leadership. The author, Grace Killelea, runs the a leadership institute called Half the Sky Leadership. She covers everything in this book, from wardrobe to reliability to giving and receiving feedback—everything that comes under the broader umbrella of personal branding, really, within a corporate context. It’s for women within an organizational setting, not small businesswomen or women who don’t work. There are tips and tools, like the 4 Rs of success (relationships, reputation, results, and resilience), but I didn’t find much that was new in this book. A good overview.
I’ve watched Amy Cuddy’s famous TED talk several times, including with my daughter when she was freaking out about giving a presentation and right before her bat mitzvah. I find it compelling. (As an aside, am I the only one who found her outfit and her lipstick-gone-wrong incredibly distracting and off, especially in the context of her subject matter?) Now she’s got a book on the subject of Presence, and whereas the Killilea books skates on the surface, this one takes a deep dive.
Presence is a vague-enough term and concept as to be almost undefinable, but it’s essential to being compelling in the world—to inhabiting the world confidently. This is what many of my clients are missing and the reason the come to me. Not all of them, certainly; some of them manage to inhabit the world with supreme confidence, they just do it wearing clothes that really detract from that overall image. Others completely lack that confidence and are looking for help in developing it.
One great component of her book is the anecdotes she uses to illustrate the ideas she’s fleshing out, because they come from a huge variety of people from around the world, and they’re so revealing about what presence is and how to develop it. I highly recommend this book.
One of the best texts I’ve ever gotten from my daughter came after a presentation she was particularly nervous about. (Kids these days do a ton of presentations in school, which is fantastic training for real life, I think.) I made her watch the TED talk and made her practice posing with her arms over her head. “Be big!” I reminded her. After school, I got a text from her. “I think I did well with my presentation,” she wrote. “I remembered to be big.”
Let’s ALL strive for confidence and presence, wherever and however we find it.
Struggling with this issue? Feel like you’ve got a handle on it? Leave a comment and tell me about it—I’d love to hear from you!
Ketura Persellin is an image consultant and the owner and founder of the Joyful Closet. She works one on one with women to help them build their confidence, one outfit at a time. If you’d like to find out more, please contact her for a complimentary discovery session.