Raise Those Hands High

When my son was in kindergarten, I volunteered to chaperone a class trip to a local museum. While the majority of the day was spent escorting five-year-olds to the bathroom, I was able to make some keen observations about the students (beyond just that little kids have small bladders). The most remarkable was that the boys raised their hands…a lot. Every time the museum docent asked a question about an artifact, about eight boys’ hands flew up in the air—“Me! Me! Me!”–while the girls typically refrained from speaking up.

At first, I was shocked by the disparity in boys’ versus girls’ hand-raising. Then I remembered that this was very consistent with research I had read about gender differences in classroom participation. Studies have shown that boys are much more likely to raise their hands than girls. Unfortunately, this pattern doesn’t seem to change as these children grow into adulthood. Our workplaces often reflect what I saw at the museum. While many men are raising their hands to new opportunities or throwing their proverbial hats in the ring for promotions, many women are more hesitant to do so.

In Decker’s Leadership Presence for Women program, we address the issue of ‘raising your hand’ for new opportunities head-on. We ask participants “What’s getting in the way of your ‘YES’?” Often it’s simply your inner dialogue creating the obstacle. That voice might be saying, “I’ve never done that before” or “I’m not sure where to even begin” or “I don’t want to be in the spotlight” (as one Harvard Business Review study suggests) or “I’m not really an expert on that.” In fact, perceived lack of expertise is a common hindrance for women to stepping forward and saying, “Consider me.” Many women think that they have to check every single requirement in order to move forward in pursuing an opportunity. This puts them at a disadvantage to those who are willing to raise their hands without all of the boxes checked. One important point of clarification: While we often see this behavior in women, there are many men who also feel reluctant to say “yes” unless they are 100% confident in their abilities.

Regardless of your gender, it is essential that you become aware of how your internal narrative (we like to refer to it as stinkin’ thinkin’) might be getting in your way. Doing so will then allow you to challenge that negative mindset. Support and encourage yourself just as you would if you were talking to a good friend. We love this quote by Sheryl Sandberg, “Fortune does favor the bold, and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” So next time someone presents you with a new opportunity, channel your inner kindergarten boy by raising your hand high. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone. And enjoy the many benefits of saying “YES!”

Mr. Rogers in the Boardroom? You Bet!

The Boardroom was the U.S. Senate Committee Hearing in 1969 as Chairman John Pastore was investigating whether to pass a $20 million funding bill to PBS. And he was losing his patience as PBS was losing the verbal battle—until Mr. Rogers stepped in. You know him—Fred Rogers, PBS star and … Continue reading

Make Your Content Pop…Like a Rock Star

Nicky Jam. Ozuna. Gente de Zona. I am a huge Latin urban pop fan. I love dancing bachata to Dominican music. I listen online to a Spanish-language radio station. And I have a celebrity crush on Grammy award-winning global artist Pitbull. So when Pitbull recently hosted a weekend Caribbean cruise, I … Continue reading

Remote Presenting: Commit to Connection

Last week, I shared what not to do on a video conference. Here’s some tips on what TO DO to ensure a great experience, every time. For most of us, the challenge with video calls is treating them like in-person meetings. It’s important to remind the audience that they matter … Continue reading

Remote Presenting: Set Up For Success

Webex GoToMeeting Zoom BlueJeans Google Hangouts You’re probably using one of these and if you’re not, you should. Here are some tips to make any and all video conferencing better: If you look at every video call as an experience, you’ll want to make each one that much better. Avoid … Continue reading

Vocal Variety: 3 Tips

It’s undeniable that the way your voice sounds has a lot to do with how you come across. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, people who hear recordings of rough, weak, or strained voices tend to label the speakers as negative, weak or tense. While people with strong voices … Continue reading

The Price of Connection

How do you put a price or value on connection? On being present? Jay-Z is a genius and talent in music who is practically unequaled. As I watched him as a guest on David Letterman’s Netflix show, My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, I was fascinated by the subject matter … Continue reading

Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Gone.

“…and the long and short of it is?” Sometimes, we feel compelled to prove how much research we’ve done, how much credibility we have and how thorough we’ve been by sharing every little detail. Problem is, when we do that, people tune out, and we lose the ability to influence. … Continue reading

When a Presentation Turns into a Conversation

I’m not big on sports, but a few months ago a friend “forced” me to watch a football game. Heads down, charging forward, the players reminded me of so many office presentations I’ve sat through where the leader was determined to get his or her point across regardless of comments … Continue reading

What’s the Point of Your Story?

The weather at the Boston Marathon this year was brutal. Forty degrees, 20mph winds and rain showers. Everyone was freezing and drenched from head to toe. By mile 4, Olympian Des Linden was ready to call it quits. Convinced it wasn’t her day, she offered to help pace and shield … Continue reading