Many senior managers get frustrated when a direct report shows a forceful presence and point of view in their office and then blends into the woodwork among their colleagues in meetings. They rarely see them take a stand or add a leadership perspective to what they bring to senior-level meetings.
This problem cuts across gender, geography and level, all the way up. Careers can plateau or even regress for lack of a strong leader presence in public. It pays to keep in mind that senior level meetings in private conference rooms qualify as "in public".
First, ask your boss to articulate specifically what’s missing:
o “You take too long to cut to the chase”
o “You go a whole meeting without saying anything impactful”
o “You’re the smartest person in the room, but don't show it"
Second, script a few “points of view” before the next big meeting:
o Make them short and sweet
o Tell them to your smartphone for practice
o Test drive the ideas with colleagues pre-meeting
o Develop assertive tactics to counter objections
o Make expressing these points of view your “exit visa”
Third, avoid your “reporter” voice – use your “leader” voice:
o Don’t dump problems on the table – point to solutions
o Don’t bail at the first objection – play your hand out
o Express ways to operationalize your ideas using the team
o Lead the room to action – own your ideas
It doesn’t mean being a loudmouth or a show off. It means getting your leader voice and presence heard and seen. If not, someone else can get a great opportunity meant for you. If all the people hear and see from you in a meeting is a well-paid reporter, you are failing to compete as a leader.
Give them the weapons they need to win people over on your behalf. Senior sponsors can be very effective if they believe in who they’re sponsoring – and everyone else does too. Think of it as "air cover" for advancement.