Want the leadership team to start seeing you as an executive leader?
Then start communicating like one.
Embracing executive-level communication is so powerful because it helps you be seen (and see yourself) as an executive leader-to-be.
And to be clear, executive communication isn’t just about speaking up.
Instead, it’s a holistic approach to communication that includes:
✔️ Actively listening
✔️ Asking the right questions
✔️ Sharing your ideas, and…
✔️ Offering solutions (not just problems)
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer, I’m sharing executive communication strategies you can begin implementing this week so you can finally get the recognition you deserve.
This is part two in a three-part series I’m calling Becoming a Corporate Badass.
In each of these three episodes, I will show you a different set of skills you need to master to become an even bigger corporate badass than you already are.
I’m offering a free live webinar on “Why You’re Not Getting Promoted and the Blueprint to Fix It” If you want to develop the skills I teach you on my podcast so that you can finally get the recognition you deserve, sign up at stacymayer.com/getpromoted and learn how. There are limited spots, so don’t hesitate to sign up.
What You'll Learn:
- Why communication is as much about what you say as it is what you don't say
- What getting out of the weeds is actually about (hint: it’s NOT about time management)
- How to incorporate executive communication skills into your everyday language
- Practical tips on how to change the way you’re communicating to your boss, the leadership team, and your team
- Three examples of what a peer-to-peer conversation with the leadership team looks like in action
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Ep #83: Becoming a Corporate Badass Part 1: Executive Embodiment
- Download Stacy’s 7-Step Promotion Roadmap
- Connect with me on LinkedIn
- Join the next round of my 6-week group coaching intensive, Executive Ahead of Time
Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer, and super excited to be here with you guys again this week. So, you might have heard in last week's episode that I recently opened the doors for enrollment in my six-week group coaching intensive program called Executive Ahead of Time.
We're now enrolling for the program that's going to take place in September and October of 2021, and I opened the doors a little early for the wait list. And this is super exciting for me because these are women who have been following me for a while, who have implemented what I teach and share on this podcast. They're seeing results and they're ready to get even more results. They're ready to make it into that next level of leadership - to advance their career, to start making a bigger impact at their organization today - and to have the tools so that they'll be successful once they get there.
So, I actually offered a very special bonus for anyone who registered early. And we did a group coaching session just this past week. And it was so, so, so much fun to meet the women, to really connect with them and to hear from them firsthand about what they have already started to implement and what's working for them so far and really what they hope to get out of these next couple of months. So, I wanted to just quickly share with you before I get into today's episode, a couple of those things so that you can really reflect on your own career journey and ask yourself if this is the right time for you to join us inside of Executive Ahead of Time because I want to inspire you to take that action. Because I really think that your organization needs you at a higher-level position. And if I can give you the tools to get there, I am ready to do just that.
So, one of the women was talking about how she has been listening to my podcast for a while and really decided to put together her own personal board of directors. You hear me talk about that a lot, how we all need this community of people who support us in our own career journey. And for her, the coaching session was really about how to interview for an external company. So, she's been working at her organization for, I think, it was like 14 years. You start to get comfortable at some point when you've been working at an organization that long, even if you see other people passing you up for promotions, you see other people getting ahead; It feels like not changing is easier. And I totally get that. I mean, this is human nature that we're going to feel very comfortable doing the same thing, even if, in essence, that comfort comes with consequences, as in, we're not as happy as we could be. We're not making the impact we want to make, because fear of the unknown is - I don't know; I don't think it ranks up there against, like, fear of public speaking, but it seems like it should - fear of the unknown - It's got to be right up there with the fear of public speaking.
And so, this is a huge challenge for all of us. And so, this was an opportunity where a recruiter reached out to her, and she just decided to go with it. But what it was bringing up for her was a little bit of fear around leaving her current situation. So, I coached her on how she could both move forward to advance an interview in this particular situation; and also at the same time, fix and address some of the challenges that she's facing at her current organization.
So that's all about becoming the executive ahead of time. We're not looking outside of ourselves for the answer, like, 'Oh, if I can get a job over here, then I'll be happy. Then I'll make an impact.' Because at the end of the day, we know that's not true. We're never happy after we lose the 50 pounds. We have to get ourselves connected along the journey. So that's what becoming the executive ahead of time is, is this sort of 'both approach'. We're going to look externally if that's what matters to you, and we're also going to challenge ourselves internally to really build those relationships, to start building trust and to stop being seen just as the subject matter expert in our field, because that's what ultimately leads to a bigger impact at your organization.
So that was super fun to meet her. And one of the other women, one of the things that we were talking about was just her new boss. She has a new boss that's joining the organization in a couple of weeks. And she just wanted to really set herself up for success in how she was communicating with this new boss. And I'm actually going to share with you in today's episode some of the tips that I gave her and strategies that I gave her so that she could really set herself up as a peer, as a partner with her new boss. And not just bring her old habits of checking in with her boss about all the details being seen as the subject matter expert, which that's the challenge for us. And that's what we're trying to break out of, is our reliance on our knowledge base and really start to understand our value as a leader and really show up in that way. So, I'm really, really excited - these are just two examples of really powerhouse women that are joining us inside of Executive Ahead of Time in the fall.
And if you are interested in joining us, go to ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com and register. Registrations open just for the next few weeks for our September group. And of course, as I mentioned, as an added bonus, I am offering these advanced group coaching sessions - one - so that we can start to get to know each other and really maximize the effectiveness of the six weeks in the fall. And the other thing is just to get you guys some quick wins. So sometimes we just need a little bit of advice. We just need a little focus. We just need a nudge in the right direction to have the wins and to actually start creating the momentum that you guys are going to be able to capitalize on once we begin the more official program in September. So go to ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com and register. And I really just can’t wait. I can't wait to see what happens when you start to apply everything that I teach and really just be able to make that impact that you really want to be making at your organization.
Now, this brings me to today's episode, which is part two of a three-part series that is all about becoming your corporate badass self. This is a combination of uncovering what's already in there because like, let's face it, we're all kind of badasses, right? It's just that we have it covered up at different times in our life and we need to uncover that so that other people can actually see how amazing we are. And then the second piece is there's probably some skills and some tools that you're not doing as effectively as you could be doing in order to really show up every single day as your corporate badass self.
So that's what this three-part series is all about, and today's episode is focused on executive communication. So how are we actually communicating? Are we communicating at an executive level or at an entry level? And I'm going to be showing you the difference between the two and breaking all of that down in today's episode.
If you haven't listened to the other parts of the series, last week we talked about executive embodiment - which kind of is like executive presence. But for me, executive presence doesn't do a whole lot for me. It actually gets me in my head. It makes me nervous. It's sort of like just the term 'executive presence' causes imposter syndrome, as if I'm not an executive already. And I really want you guys to realize that you are executives. There are certain qualities that you already are utilizing at work. There are qualities in your own particular leadership that are already at that executive level. And how can we continue to embody that and really show up as the executive? Because my goal is not for you to be seen as a high potential leader, but to be seen as the executive. Those are two very, very, very different things. To be a high potential leader is something in the future. Executive presence. Maybe if you get these skills, then you could be an executive. Or we start to unleash and uncover the executive embodiment that's already inside of you so that you can become and really show up as that executive.
And then next week's episode is going to focus on executive discernment. So, some of this is - 'ugh' - the stuff you don't like - which is the politics. It's why so many corporate women leave corporate America. It's why we don't advance our careers because we hate it so much. And I'm going to start to show you how you could actually use politics at work, at your company, to your advantage. Other people do it all the time. Those are the people who are passing you up for promotion. And this doesn't have to be sleazy or cutthroat or weird or awkward. You're going to be able to do this in your own way - because honestly - that is what an executive is. An executive is a unique individual that stands out because of their particular leadership style and the way that they own and implement their leadership. And so, I'm going to show you how to start to use organizational politics to your advantage so that you can practice executive discernment and really get ahead in your career.
But for today's episode we're talking about communication. How are we speaking? And the flip side of this is 'how are we perceived' because of our executive level communication. And the first thing I want to point out is communication is as much about what you say as it is what you don't say. So, a lot of times when I'm coaching on communication skills, depending on where you're at, sometimes I'm saying you need to listen. You need to ask better questions. And then sometimes I'm saying you just need to participate. You need to share your ideas. You need to offer solutions and not just talk about the problems all the time. So, depending on where you're at, you're going to have two different sides of this executive communication that you're going to be able to apply. But I just want you to understand that it's a holistic process of communication.
As we're getting started in today's episode, I also want to share with you a little bit of behind the scenes. When you join us inside of Executive Ahead of Time, the first module is called 'Getting Out of the Weeds'. And one of the key concepts that I teach inside of this module is that getting out of the weeds is more about communication than it is about time management. So, I'll say that again - getting out of the weeds is more about communication than it is about time management.
Great example - I just had a woman reach out to me and ask if she should join Executive Ahead of Time because she is currently a front-line manager, so she needs to be in the weeds all of the time. When you say, 'in the weeds', it has this negative connotation. But essentially what that means is she needs to be skilled at her job. She is the subject matter expert. She needs to make sure that she's paying attention to the details. And her direct manager has this expectation that that's what she does. So that is a given. So, no matter where you are, even if you're a front-line manager, you can begin to incorporate executive communication skills into your everyday language.
And so that's what I told her, is that 'no, we're not going to start to change' literally. You're not actually going to change what you're doing every day. So, if getting out of the weeds is as much or actually completely about communication versus time management, what you do in your week is exactly the same. Exactly. You're not changing anything that you do as part of your job. But here is the beauty of it. When you start to change the way that you communicate, you change the way others perceive you. And when they start to perceive you as an executive leader, they communicate differently with you as well.
I have a client who I've been working with for maybe about two years now. She's gone through all of my training programs - my A-plus student - who really does and implements everything that I teach to a tee. And she just had this incredible situation last week where her CEO... Oh, here, let me break this down a little bit. Again, I teach about 15-minute ally meetings. So as part of 15-minute ally meetings, she started scheduling regular conversations with her CEO of her organization. And they were very much coming from her. She had to solicit the conversation. So, this was a conversation that she had scheduled. It's her monthly check in with her CEO, who is not her direct boss, but she just has this regular ongoing conversation. And her CEO actually happened to be in town and she's in the office now. And so, he popped into her office, and he just sat down and started talking. He was like, 'I want to run something by you. I want to talk to you about this. I want to make sure you've heard about this. I want to get your opinion on this. A lot of the members of the executive team are talking about this. What do you think about this?'. And the only reason. that he did that is because she is communicating as an executive leader. Regardless of her title, and whether or not she actually reports to her CEO, he sees her as a valued member of the executive team. Now, she's not on the executive team, but he sees her that way. And she's just through the roof. Because she has so many ideas. She's so excited to be appreciated in this way. It feels really, really good.
The other thing about executive communication is that you can shift these behaviors instantly. You don't need to hire a team to get yourself out of the weeds. You don't need to hire a team to start communicating differently. All you need to do is start communicating differently. That's it. It can happen tomorrow.
This is why, again, my Executive Ahead of Time program is uniquely positioned as a six-week program because you guys are going to start getting wins in week one, literally, right off the bat. Because I'm going to give you exactly what to say in these executive team meetings, so you're communicating as an executive, a.k.a. a total corporate badass, because that is who you are. You are a total corporate badass. You are a unique individual with a unique leadership style, and you are an asset to your organization. So, I'm making sure that one, you know that and remind you of that every single week. And two, that you actually have the skills to start implementing it.
So, with executive communication, let me break down a couple of practical takeaways so that you can actually walk away from today's conversation with some stuff that you can begin to implement right away and start to get these results. And I'll say it again - if you are getting results from my podcast, imagine what's going to happen when you join Executive Ahead of Time. So - I'm just saying - if you get any results at all, even if it's like you start to feel better just by listening to my podcasts you feel more motivated. You feel more focused. Imagine what's going to happen inside of the program when you actually get weekly coaching from me personally and I apply it to your particular situation - just saying - okay.
So, in terms of executive communication, the first piece of this is literally what you're saying and how you're communicating both to your boss, to the leadership team - this includes all the executives, your boss's boss, the CEO, whoever, the executive team; and the way that you're communicating to your team. So, a lot of people, when I meet them, they're really great managers. They don't actually have a problem communicating to their team. Sometimes they might find themselves in the weeds. Sometimes they might have some challenges because they have an employee that's not delivering, so they need to understand from me how to have these difficult conversations and I'll map that out for them. But for the most part, they're a great manager. For the most part, their team really loves them. Their team supports them. And part of the reason for this is because of how you see yourself. The role is really clear. You're their boss. And so, when you think of yourself as their boss, you show up powerfully. And when you show up powerfully, you are communicating at an executive level. That's essentially what executive level means - is this idea of power and influence. So, when you know and you understand the parameters, there's no weirdness. You're just showing up and you're leading them because you're an amazing leader. And so, I really want you to take this at heart, which is that you are an amazing leader, which means that you can totally manage up as well. It's just that you haven't practiced those skills. It's not a clear delineation of responsibility.
So now when we're looking at our boss, and then also the executive team, let me first focus on the executive team and how you're communicating to them - It could also be your peers, other leaders at your organization. I want you to start to think about yourself as a partner, as a peer, to them. So, like I said, managing down to your team, the delineation of responsibility and stuff is so the roles are so clear. You are their boss and so you show up powerfully. And so, I just want you to start to ask yourself questions. If I was a partner with this person that I'm communicating with, how would I show up? If I was equal to them, would I show up by just checking in about all the details, or would I be having a higher-level strategic conversation with them, and what does that look like? So, you're going to have to do a little bit of acting. You're going to have to kind of put on a persona at first, but it clicks very, very quickly.
And so, I want you to just write that down on a piece of paper - really start to ask yourself, how would I show up to this conversation if I was their peer, if I was a partner with this person. How would I be showing up? And so that is exactly what you're going to start to do. I'm not saying show up as their boss - so you tell them what to do, no - you’re equals. Show up as an equal. And I'd love to hear from you guys what comes up for you when you start to ask yourself that question. I really want you to ask yourself. I'm going to give you some examples of what a peer-to-peer or a partnership type conversation looks like. But for now, just ask yourself first - and this is so key to becoming the executive ahead of time - is we look to ourselves for the answers. So that's the place where you're going to start, is just ask yourself, 'if I was a peer, if I was a partner, how would I be showing up to this conversation?'. I gave you one answer, which is that you might be having higher level, more strategic conversations versus checking in about the details.
Another example is you might be having a conversation with them about leadership. Think about if you were having a drink with this person and you were just hanging out, you're not going to talk just about work. You're going to talk about core values, principles, things that they care about, things that keep them up at night, challenges that they're facing. So, you might show up at this peer-to-peer or partnership relationship just by shooting the shit - just having a normal conversation with the person. And by normal, I do not mean speaking about your personal life. I mean normal as in two human beings interacting. So that's another example of how you would show up to the conversation if you were a partner.
And then a third example of what you might do is you might NOT ask for a ton of advice. Having a conversation with them from a leadership perspective is not the same as just asking for advice. And think about it, what are you thinking and believing about yourself when you're like, 'Oh, can you give me some feedback on this?' And 'I want your advice on that...' I'm not saying that you shouldn't ask for advice, you totally should. But I think advice from a peer-to-peer, or a partnership level looks a little bit less like 'I don't know the answer, please tell me', and more like, 'Here's what I'm thinking; this is what I'm trying - What are your thoughts?' That's peer-to-peer. That's a partnership relationship. So those are executive communication skills when you're having conversations with your executive team, your boss's boss, your CEO, those types of people. And what's going to start to happen is they're going to start to perceive you as an executive leader. They're going to see you as somebody they want to meet with on a regular basis. That's what's super fun about this. Those are the quick wins. That feels really, really good. You want to know the fastest way to get over impostor syndrome or to develop more confidence - have confident conversations with executives. You're going to start to realize, 'Oh, wow, I really am a corporate badass. I really am part of this team. You know what? This organization does need me in a higher-level executive position. I'm ready to go take it'. That kind of confidence is what I'm talking about.
And then the third piece is how you're communicating with your boss. So, are you communicating as an executive or are you communicating, continuing to communicate, as the subject-matter expert? And this is one hundred percent getting out of the weeds. So, we think that our boss only wants to know about the details. And that's just because our boss has the same challenges and issues that we have. Our boss is a human being. Our boss falls into prey of getting into the weeds sometimes. But the good news is, when you start suddenly shifting the way that you're communicating, even with your boss; and you're applying some of what I'm talking about - this partner-to-partner and peer relationship - even with your boss - you're going to notice a sense of relief. They are going to be so excited to have you on their team. Because think about your own personal team when you have a leader who's really stepping up and just kind of talking to you as an executive instead of just coming to you to solve all of their problems - it feels good as a leader.
So, you're going to want to have more conversations with them. And so that's what I want you to start to do. And we do this subtly. You're not telling your boss, 'No, I won't give you those details', but you're saying something like 'if you'd like to hear more details, let me know'. And so now they have the option; and I will tell you for a fact, 90 percent of my Executive Ahead of Time students, when they start to say the words, 'If you would like to hear more details, I'm happy to share them', nobody - nobody - asks to hear the details. You know why? Because they trust that you have it. They trust that you've done the work. If you're bold enough to say, 'If you'd like to hear more details, I'm happy to share them with you'. They're like, 'Oh, no, I'm good', or 'Send me the spreadsheet', or 'Send me an email; We don't need to do this in this meeting. Let me review your details on my own time.'
And so, then that gives you 20 extra minutes of the conversation to really communicate at that executive level. And so, what does this get you? When you start to communicate as an executive to your boss - one- it adds this level of...it takes the pressure off your boss, your boss starts to feel better, your boss really values the relationship with you, really sees you as a peer. And the second thing - and this is going to be a little bit surprising - when you start communicating this way with your boss, you are going to see if your boss is an ally or a blocker. I'm going to say that again. When you start communicating as an executive to your boss, you are going to get a ton of information. You are going to see if your boss is threatened by you, meaning that they're a blocker and they have their own issues; and they're like, "Oh, all of a sudden she's talking to me this way... I don't know what's going on'. And they start to get a little bit defensive or kind of put you in a place. I've had leaders start to do this and they're like, 'Oh, my God, my boss just said something really shitty to me'. They said, 'You know, you're not really supposed to be in that meeting because that's not your level'. And if I have a boss that's talking to me that way, I don't want to work for that boss. And I think that this is really important for us to realize, is who our bosses really are. And we can make the choice to stay at our organizations. You don't have to leave immediately. I know that you have other things going on in your life, other priorities. It's not always about 'I have to find a new job. I have to be in the job that fulfills me the most'.
But isn't it great to really know where you stand with your boss? Is my boss an ally, or is my boss a blocker? The way you're going to know is if you start to show up as an executive - now, again, like I said, you're still willing and your day-to-day job is all the details, if that's the case. You're still willing to share with them the details, but you can tell the difference. If your boss starts saying crappy things to you and kind of putting you back in your place, then you know that they're not an ally for you.
And on the flip side, if you start to notice that your boss is really engaged and welcoming this type of conversation, this higher-level strategic thinking, then you're going to see that your boss gets it. Your boss is a true ally. And eventually you can start having conversations about your own professional development that your own desire is to move into executive level leadership. So, it's really interesting, and many of us, part of the reasons why we're not getting promoted is because we're focused solely on our boss. If I can get my boss to like me, then I can get promoted. And instead, that's why I'm teaching you to build relationships with other people. To make sure that you're having those 15-minute ally meetings. That you're having peer-to-peer and partnership conversations with all of the executive team, as well as leading your team in the right way.
So, once you start to do this, once you start to really implement this executive style of communication, you are going to like your job more. It's going to feel better. You're going to feel this sense of relief and you're going to start to shift perception of you so that they can truly see you as the executive leader, as the corporate badass that you already are, because that's the truth. I want you to start communicating this way so that when you do get into that higher level executive position, you're continuing that communication process. That you have other partners. I don't want you to just get promoted. I want you to have allies along the way - people who are going to support you - your own personal board of directors.
That is why we do the work to become the executive ahead of time, because it's not just about the title, it's not just about the promotion. And sometimes it is. Sometimes we've done the work to become the executive ahead of time and I have to give you straightforward skills to actually ask for the promotion. But for the most part, it's really 'are we communicating as a corporate badass or are we communicating as a subject matter expert?'
So that's the takeaway from this week. I really want you to start to look at it. And even if you're just creating awareness around this and really looking at it, 'Oh, my gosh. Wow, Stacey's right. I'm really not communicating as an executive.' That's the first piece of the puzzle. Awareness. And so that's what you're going to start to do. You're going to start to create some awareness around it. And then you can start to implement these practical strategies that I've taught you today so that you can start communicating as an executive leader and finally get the recognition that you deserve. Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you next week - Bye.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.