By: Randy Siegel
I have a confession to make: I am addicted to Tuesday night’s new hit series “Commander and Chief.” Sure, Geena Davis is beautiful. She tall, regal, and has the best lips in the business after Angelia Jolie. But, television’s first woman president has captured my attention for another reason: I am fascinated with her communication style.
President Mackenzie Allen commands respect, and yet she is likeable. I would follow her lead and still enjoy throwing back a beer with her after a hard day of work in the White House.
Most women are damned-if-they-do and damned-if-they-don’t when it comes to communicating in the male-dominated worlds of politics, business, and education. In order to compete, they must find a delicate balance between authority and likeability.
All great communicators possess what I call “the terrific triad,” credibility, likeability, and authority. While many women want to claim their authority, they are concerned about appearing too domineering or abrasive, and thus losing likeability. “We are in a double bind,” one female executive shared.
To make matters worse, our culture associates authority with men. When we think of those traits we consider authoritative, we immediately think of tall, solidly built, and a lower pitched voice – all characteristics associated with men, not women.
In today’s world, women are expected to be both authoritative and feminine. “That’s very hard,” most women agree. In my experience as a communications trainer and coach, most women have to sacrifice some likeability for authority, and that is okay.