How ineffective communication habits steal power from women in leadership
Societal norms have created barriers to action, and through communication methods we can see how small changes could have great impact.
8 Mar 2023

Women empowerment efforts have become instrumental to the fight for equality and creating opportunities for those in marginalized positions. This is achieved through an understanding of communication and cooperation, and uniting communities together in an environment of inclusion and creativity. Ineffective habits which steal power are the enemy of successful communication.

The work of people such as Laura Penn, Founder of The Leadership Speaking School aims to empower leaders and teams to speak with impact, authenticity and human connection. She supports them to unleash their full potential as communicators so that they can show up as the best versions of themselves every time they speak with their peers, teams and stakeholders.

“Women in leadership, the doors of opportunity are flung wide open for us to walk through. We are living in a golden age of prosperity for women in leadership. A time in history which values our diversity, celebrates our inclusion and propels us into the spotlight and positions of power.

As the Founder of The Leadership Speaking School, I have a front-row seat to watch this great wave of female leadership take place. My work involves transforming leaders and teams from the worlds’ most well-known companies, business schools and international organizations into communicators who speak with impact, authenticity, and human connection. I see many extraordinary women communicating in front of their peers, teams and customers with competency and grace.

However, there are still plenty of women in leadership who lack this diamond-shine when they communicate and who are stuck in ineffective habits which limit their impact. I see them under-delivering and exaggeratedly contracting into themselves, disappearing into the scenery. Or, they over-deliver and wastefully spray their energy out into their audiences without focus and clarity and exhausting their listeners.

I want to pull back the curtain on the important topic of ineffective habits which steal power and I want to get specific about what living in one’s power as a woman in leadership looks like (and Gentlemen, this is for you too). I want to make it personal, so I have created a checklist for you to use so that you can identify where you are in the spectrum of do’s and don’ts.

To explore if you UNDER-deliver and give away your power, please answer these YES or NO questions:

Do you find yourself looking down instead of looking straight ahead when you walk into a room? 


Do you intentionally avoid making eye-contact?


Do you mumble when you speak and have people ask you to repeat yourself because they can’t understand you? 


Do you hold your breath when you are listening to others?


Do you try to please others by minimizing yourself?


Do you hide your feet under your chair?


To explore if you over deliver, please answer these YES or NO questions:

Do you feel tired after interacting with others?


Do you judge others when they are talking instead of listening to them?


Do you make noise when you breathe?


Do you laugh and speak much louder than others around you?


Do you find yourself pushing your voice out so much that your throat hurts?


Do you take up a lot of physical real estate with your body and with your possessions? 


As you may have already guessed, if you have answered “YES” to the majority of the questions in either of these two categories of under or over delivering, you have ineffective habits. The hard truth is that you are either giving it away by diminishing yourself or you are wasting it by pushing it out too hard. The work ahead for you is to learn how to harness your power, managing it so that you can use it more consciously and more effectively.

Two things that you can do straight away to get on the path of starting this work are to

1) Get curious about how others are in their power when they communicate and copy them.

2) Invest in yourself and work with an expert in leadership speaking

If you have answered “NO” to most of the questions in the two categories, perhaps you’ll recognize yourself in the below list of what being in one’s power as a communicator looks like:

You are in your power as a communicator when you…

*Feel centered, calm and collected when you walk into a room

*Know why you are in the room and what value you bring

*Are curious about your audience, not judgemental

*Feel energized by being in the room with your audience, not tired by it

*Feel your face and jaw are relaxed and you smile with your eyes

*Feel good all over before, during and after you communicate with others

The result of disrupting your ineffective habits and harnessing your natural power will be game-changing. It will supercharge your leadership, amplify your confidence as a communicator and increase trust and engagement with your peers, teams and customers. Ladies, my invitation to you is to do the work of learning how to manage your power so that you can walk through the doors of opportunity like a warm summer breeze and take center stage in your leadership. The right time is now.”

* Dr. Laura Penn is the Founder of The Leadership Speaking School. She is a master teacher in the speaking arts and an international authority on business communication.
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