Closing the Influence Gap for Women Leaders


Clint Murphy Carla Miller


Clint Murphy, Carla Miller

Clint Murphy  00:15

Welcome to the growth guide podcast. I’m your host, Clint Murphy. Every week I talk to authors, subject matter experts and millionaire mentors to share the lessons that will help you and me be better achieve more and become financially free.


Clint Murphy  00:36

Today, I had a transformative conversation with Carla Miller, a leadership coach and best selling author who works with women to develop their careers and their confidence. Carla is the author of Closing the Influence Gap, A Practical Guide for Women Leaders Who Want to be Heard, which empowers women to successfully navigate the workplace, and to learn to lead their way. Enjoy the conversation.


Clint Murphy  01:13

Good morning, Carla. Welcome to the growth guide. Before we dive into your book, would you like to share with our audience a brief bio about yourself so that they know who you are? And then we’ll start the conversation with your book.


Carla Miller  01:28

Absolutely, thank you. So I’m a women’s leadership and confidence coach, my background is in the charity sector, the nonprofit sector, you will call it over there, where I led teams for many, many years and raised about 20 million pounds for good causes. I found myself in leadership positions quite young. By 29, I was a director, and sometimes found it hard to get my voice heard when surrounded by people who are a lot older than me, and by lots of men, as well. And I learned to build my confidence, I learned to influence effectively. And when I later became a coach, I started sharing these tools and techniques with other women and discovering that actually, it wasn’t just me that was experiencing those issues. And these techniques were helpful. So I’ve been coaching women now for about 14 years. And the book really exists to help the versions of me that were out there when I was younger, in my first management role, my first director role, my first chief exec role, and help other people avoid some of the pitfalls that I fell into.


Clint Murphy  02:34

And so the book we’re talking about is Closing the Influence Gap, A Practical Guide for Women Leaders Who Want to be Heard. And where I’d love to start with that is, in the beginning, in the introduction, you talk about the idea that women in a senior leadership position are twice as likely to be the only one or the only woman at their level in the workplace. And women of color are often and only in two ways and even more likely to be on the end of disrespectful behavior, which is why you want them to know two things. You’re not alone. You don’t need fixing. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about in our conversation today. Can you share with the listeners what that means for you?


Carla Miller  03:26

Absolutely. So I think there’s lots of criticism out there about offering confidence and leadership support to women, because there’s the assumption that well, women need fixing, or they’re broken. And actually, we shouldn’t be fixing the women, we should be fixing the system. And I sort of hold both views at the same time in that we absolutely need to be fixing the system. The world of work was designed by men for men. And it was the world of work as we know, it was designed back in the 50s, basically, and many of them had a housewife at home doing the child rearing and everything else to do with life as well. And there have been some substantial changes. But it’s still a place where women often don’t feel like they belong, particularly when we’re the only woman in the room. And so we do face a bit additional barriers to success. And even when we get a seat at the table, it’s harder for us to get our voice heard. And so the book aims to overcome that, and help women recognize that they don’t need fixing, like you say they’re not broken. But gender bias has impacted our confidence. It’s impacted our self belief and then that makes it harder to speak up. So I believe we absolutely need to change the system. And it’s really, really important to engage men in that as well. This isn’t something men are doing to women, we all participate in gender bias, it’s a societal issue. And I want to help women believe in themselves again and understand that they can lead their way and the fact that they don’t always get their first voice heard doesn’t mean that they’re not good enough. And I think that’s where we go in our heads, we don’t get our voice heard, we get interrupted, someone makes our point that we’ve just made and they get all the credit for it. And we start to think, well, there must be something wrong with me because they’re not taking me seriously, I must just have to work harder, I have to be more, I have to be better. And actually, that’s not the case at all. And that’s what I would really love all women to understand. Because I think it’s really empowering to understand that.


Clint Murphy  05:25

So before we dive in to strategies and tactics and tools that people can use, the first thing you talk about us needing to work on. And you mentioned some of them there. Our own mindsets and beliefs, to then empower us to take the next step. So the first part is working on the inner work for ourselves. Can you talk about that at a high level? And then we’ll dive into a couple of the specific ones?


Carla Miller  05:49

Yes. So it can be hard to get others to see you as a leader. If you’re sat there doubting yourself, if you’re worried about speaking up, if you’re not completely sure that you’re right, or if your caveating some of the things you’re saying by saying I’m not sure but or correct me if I’m wrong. So it shows up in various ways, the self doubt that we experienced, I tend to talk about impostor feelings rather than imposter syndrome, because no one wants to get labeled with a syndrome. And they’re not permanent things for most of us, they come and go, but they do hold us back. Because they stop us speaking up, they stop us  being as confident, they stop as pushing for what we know is right, and owning our expertise. So one of the things I find is really helpful to do with people is help to recognize that we all have beliefs that we’ve adopted through life to help us make sense of life. Beliefs, like “I have to be perfect all the time”. Or “I have to be 100% right in order to speak up”, or “I have to say yes to everything that people ask me”. So what the book helps you to do in that first part is to reframe some of those beliefs to question them and say, is that true? Is it always true? And is it serving me? And if it’s not serving me, how do I want to feel about this? And what new belief could I create. We also look at your inner critic, so that negative mental chatter that you have in your head, coaches, we like to call it your inner critic, you might have heard it called a gremlin or a saboteur, I find it’s really helpful to personalize that, as well so that you can then recognize oh that thought I’m having might not be true, might not be helpful. And it’s just my inner critic getting really vocal because I’m out of my comfort zone at the moment. And the final thing we do as part of the core bit of seeing yourself as a leader, is help you tune into what I call your inner leader, but that calm, wise confident part of yourself. And we’ve all got it, we just can’t access it quite as quickly as we can access that inner critic. So the book teaches you to do that. And then the other thing it looks at in that section is some of the behaviors that come from those beliefs. So working to the point of burnout, for example, or finding it challenging to say no.  I see a lot of that. I mean, burnout is much more common in women than men, particularly over the last few years. Here in the UK, we had a lot of lockdowns and a lot of homeschooling, and much of the burden of that fell to women. And I think that’s really exacerbated that burnout. But it’s also due to this idea that I just if I just work harder, then I’ll be recognized. And then I feel good enough. So we address a lot of that in that first section.


Clint Murphy  05:49

Okay, well, let’s dive into it. Where I’d love to start is when it comes to impostor feelings. You talk about recognizing the inner critic and working with our inner critic. Can we start with that as part of the impostor feelings to help people work their way through reducing the impostor feelings?


Carla Miller 08:56

Yes. So I think there’s a lot of crossover between your inner critic and impostor feelings. What we’re talking about as a whole really is self doubt. And there’s an analogy I love for this, which comes from Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. And she also wrote Big Magic, which is the book that this idea comes from, where she basically says, when she’s writing a book, she’s on a road trip. And next to her in the front seat is creativity. Because when you’re writing a book, you need creativity. But she also recognizes that part of the journey of writing a book is fear. And so she recognizes fear is on that journey, too. And she says to fear, okay, fear, my friend, you are welcome in the car on the road trip. I accept that you’re here. But you are not in charge of the radio, you are not giving directions, no backseat driving, and you’re not allowed to drive. And that works really well when it comes to impostor feelings. Your inner critic and fear is another word for that. To some people, it comes up as fear for some it’s worry, for some it’s self doubt.  Some of us have multiple inner critics, some of us just have one that we can identify. But we don’t want to get rid of it altogether. It’s just part of the human experience. And we don’t need to beat ourselves up for experiencing it. And I think that happens a lot. I speak to women on the phone, and they say, I really want to work with you but I don’t know if you’re going to be able to help me because my inner critic is super, super loud. And I say to them, you’re literally the fifth person that said that this week. We all believe our inner critics are super loud. And that’s why I love getting groups of women together. Because we’re constantly comparing our messy insights to everybody else’s completely sorted outside. And when you have those safe conversations, you realize, oh, that person that I really respect and admire, who’s got it all together, they’re inside is just as messy as me, they experience that self doubt, as well. So for me, it’s exactly that it’s recognizing your inner critic, part of your journey through life, and that’s okay. But what we don’t want is for them to be doing the driving, we want to be able to recognize, oh, it’s getting really vocal back there, try to take control of the steering wheel or change the the radio channel. Actually, I don’t want it to do that. And so we put it in the backseat. And for me, in my head, I visualize my inner critic, and I basically say thanks, but I’ve got this. And I choose to put those thoughts aside quite quickly and move on.


Clint Murphy  11:22

And some of the things you talked about, you called it turning down the volume on your inner critic, we’re putting a name to it, a voice, a personality, something that it would be easier to silence –  Is that?


Carla Miller  11:36

That’s right, because we’re at the moment you hear all these negative chatter, and you hear it in your own voice. And we believe our thoughts, we believe all our thoughts are true, most of us, particularly when we’re hearing them in our own voice. And so if we can assign a bit of a personality, then we can start to differentiate those thoughts from the other more helpful thoughts we’re having, and it just creates that pause that space where we can make that choice as to, like, do I want to listen to that, or do I not want to so personifying it is a really nice way to do it. And you could also just picture turning the volume down. So that’s why I talked about turning the volume down, because you could imagine the voice just getting smaller and smaller and quieter and quieter and quieter. Or if you visualize it, you can imagine them getting smaller and smaller and smaller. And the idea is that rather than your inner critic being a scary thing, which I think for some people it can be, instead it becomes a bit of a laughable thing. So at the moment, I have a bit of an inner critic called Paranoid Pandora, where suddenly I see something or notice something about my body and I think, oh, there’s something seriously wrong with me. And now what I do is I recognize, oh, hang on is Paranoid Pandora, and Pandora wants to go to Google and open Pandora’s box. But we are not allowing that, we’re recognizing, actually, that’s just part of what’s going on in my head at the moment, and I recognize it quickly. And then I choose to switch my thoughts to something reassuring, that makes me feel better, which in my case is the face of my cute little five year old boy always puts a smile on my face and distracts me from those more negative thoughts. So that’s how it can work in practice.


Clint Murphy  13:12

And Carla, do you ever use as well, in CBT, they’ll have the idea of thought auditing, and writing down those negative thoughts and then challenging them with more logical alternatives. A guest recently had an acronym for it that I’m trying to cement into my brain, so I’m going to be using it more and more is tEA which over in England, you can appreciate and that’s what’s the thought? Is there any evidence to support it? What’s an alternative thought?


Carla Miller  13:44

I love that that’s a really great shortened version, I encourage people to write down when they first identify their inner critic, I encourage them to write down what their inner critic is saying. So that’s that first step is recognizing or mainly if it’s actually quite vocal, it’s actually taking over quite a lot of my thoughts. And then we put them through a thought reframing process. But actually, I love the TEA because it’s just quick and easy to remember. And it’s exactly that it’s basically how true is this thought? Is it serving me? And then I say to people, how do you want to feel about this topic? And what thought would enable you to feel that so I think I might swap that for the TEA actually, I really like how simple that is. Yes, you’re right. We do like Tea over here.


Clint Murphy  14:25

And is it serving me? That’s such an important point. A lot of people don’t realize a lot of that inner critic in us at some point in our life, it was serving us.  Maybe when we were seven, that was serving us and that voice was helping keep us safe. And now that we’re adults, it may not be serving us. So that’s such a powerful question. Is it serving me? And if it was serving me, how might it sound differently? I love that reframing Carla. And then if we contrast that with the inner leader, so we want to turn the volume down on the inner critic, we want to turn the volume up on the inner leader, what is the inner leader look like? And why don’t I have that voice inside me? How do I get that one?


Carla Miller  15:12

So one way we do it is to access it through a visualization, basically, because again, visualizations can be really powerful. But it’s basically the calm, confident version of you. It’s your intuition is another word for it. And we just put a visual to that. So I encourage people when they’re going into meetings, for example, imagine leaving your inner critic outside the front door, because our inner critic can get very vocal in meetings, and instead, stepping into your inner leader. So in the book was a visualization for it. Another shortcut for that is also to think well, when have I been in that state of flow, where I’ve been calm, confident, I’ve known what I’ve been doing. And again, you can use an NLP type technique for that, where you can visualize that and turn up the brightness of that experience, turn up the emotion of that experience, and find some way that enables you to tap into that. So I’ve got clients that have got images that remind them of their inner critic, or remind them of a period of life, when they did feel really confident and really calm, and really in control. And just tuning in to that changes how your nervous system feels it changes your body language. And you can just go into meetings on to cause feeling more grounded, and believing in yourself more, it’s really about learning to trust yourself. And it’s a visualization tool that enables you to do that.


Clint Murphy  16:40

And we’re going to talk about that even as part of pre meeting routines later, which I loved your methods for pre meeting routines that we’re gonna get to. In the intro, you talked a little bit about the idea of burnout, and how that’s been more challenging for women over the last three years of COVID. I’ve definitely seen that with the we call it the invisible workload, and how much more that increased for them, during the pandemic, with homeschooling, and everybody living at home. So that was very visible. And even yourself, early in your career, you got caught in the trap of linking your value as a person to the quality and quantity of your work, which is an absolute recipe for disaster. Until your coach asked you two good questions. What would happen if you didn’t try to be perfect at everything? And what would happen if you didn’t give 110% over time? So you’ve used those two questions, to drive away to break your habit of a lifetime of overachieving. Can you take us through what the questions did for you? And how you recommend someone else? Get out of that habit? Because you’ve done more work and have your own recommendations on top of what your coach gave you back on your journey?


Carla Miller  18:10

Yes, so I remember being asked those questions by my coach. And we were sitting in a cafe having lunch. And I actually started hyperventilating at just the idea of not trying to be perfect to everything I’m not trying to over deliver all the time, because it had been my default through life. I don’t know if it’s an older child thing. But I know that I have a lot of clients that experience that same thing where basically we’re trying to prove our value to ourselves, and everyone around us and the more challenging the roles we go into, the more we’re feeling that need to prove that we belong, to prove that we’re good enough. And even when other people are telling us we are, we still don’t necessarily feel like we are. So I was terrified of making mistakes. And so I felt like I needed to be in control of lots of things. I’m sure it made me quite difficult to work for because I think I’m a really relaxed person but actually working for someone who wants to be in control all the time is not very relaxing. And I recognized at that point, that actually being perfect, trying to be perfect wasn’t serving me and actually being perfect wasn’t even the right thing to aim for, A) because we learn from our mistakes but also, at the time. This is really dating myself but Desperate Housewives was on television at the time and it was early on in Desperate Housewives and Brie Van de Kamp was I don’t think she’d gone completely insane at that point. But she was perfect. She was like a Stepford wife and she was the least likable character in the program. And I realized I was trying to be like her and I didn’t want to be like her. For me that really helped me understand actually my imperfections are what made me likable and even lovable and recognizing and accepting those. And for me, that was a major breakthrough. For my clients, what I help them identify is what’s that story you’re telling yourself? Is it that you need to be perfect? Is it that you need more experience? We all have these unhelpful stories. And exactly like you just said, taking them through what you’ve called the TEA, the TEA process is a really, really effective way to do that. And I think in terms of the giving 110%, my coach had a really helpful analogy for that as well, which was, if you are a car, and this is driving stick, I don’t know if many of you drive stick over there. In the UK, we call them manual cars and we pretty much all still drive them. In a car, you wouldn’t expect it to go fifth gear in the top gear all the time, you were completely destroy the car. And that’s what I was trying to do, I literally and I still notice myself doing it sometimes now, foot down, flat on the accelerator all the time and wondering why eventually, I feel like I’m gonna break down. And so just recognizing that it’s okay, it’s good to be able to switch into fifth gear, but it’s okay to be in third gear, it’s even okay to stop sometimes and have a rest, that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And I think it’s really useful to know that, to recognize that to find role models who are doing that. Over here, we’ve got a lot more of the four day week happening, which is fantastic. I’m really seeing that actually people are more productive, and getting more done when they’re working four days, rather than five days. You know, that really aligns with this way of thinking? So I think we need to do two things. We need the practical things in place that help us to slow down. But first, we need to work on that mindset and ask what’s driving me to work so hard? What is the thinking when I’m in that state of panic of oh, actually, I must do more. I can’t stop. I can’t switch off.  What’s the thinking behind that? And that’s where coaching can come in super handy, to help you identify that. It’s really hard sometimes to identify your own limiting beliefs or unhelpful thoughts because to you, they’re just facts about the world and life that you think are completely true.


Clint Murphy  22:13

Ad so part of that, and we’ve already talked about this a bit and had a bit of a conversation about it is part of what’s both driving that, the over delivering the overachieving and the inner critic / impostor feelings are the idea of limiting beliefs and negative thoughts, and you have your own framework for reframing them. Can you take the listeners through the steps in your framework? And we can share that with them?


Carla Miller  22:50

Absolutely. So the first one is to just ask yourself the question, is it true? And then ask the question, Is it really true? So is it true in all circumstances? Is it true 100% of the time, has there ever been a time when it wasn’t true? So we’re trying to find really a chink in the armor of that belief. And then help you understand the consequences of holding on to that belief. So what is it costing you? So questions like: how does it make you feel and act when you think that thought, and that can be really sobering to recognize, oh, actually, it’s making me feel really terrible about myself. Or it’s making me play it small, rather than be noticed by other people. And then you say, well, how do you want to feel? How would you want to show up differently? And then finally, what new belief would you like to create around that? And then embedding that belief, which one of the best ways to do that is think well, if I believed this, because your brain doesn’t believe it, yet, it’s new. If I believe this, what action would I take, and start by taking that action. So in the same way as confidence, sometimes we don’t feel the confidence before we take the action, we take the action, then we feel the confidence. We can do that with a new belief as well. So we can think well, what is the step I would take if I truly believed this new belief. And affirmations are also really, really helpful. We have so many thoughts. So we have somewhere between 60 and 90,000 thoughts a day, studies seem to vary. We know a lot of them are repetitive. We think a lot of them are negative. I haven’t seen a specific study on what percentage and negative but we’ve got a lot of these repeating negative thoughts going around our head every day. So just coming up with a new belief is not going to replace something that’s building a pathway through your brain and neural pathway for decades. So we want to repeat them. So you might for example, you might write them down multiple times every day. I have a two minute timer on my toothbrush and I find it so boring that two minutes so I do affirmations in my head during that time. I know someone like Tony Robbins likes to say it out loud into the mirror. I don’t know many British women that would stand in front of the mirror and repeat their affirmations to themselves. So we like the tooth brushing side of things or post it notes, if you’re working from home is a really nice way to do it as well.


Clint Murphy  25:09

Yeah, I like that idea. And I love that reframing method. One of the interesting things my coach told me back in the day when I was working with him, he took me through the idea of when you want to change a behavior, at first, it’s an undesired behavior that’s unconscious. Step one is making it an undesired behavior that’s conscious, then a desired behavior that’s conscious. And then finally, over time, to your point about rewiring takes the reps, eventually, it becomes a desired behavior that is unconscious. And we have to work our way on every single one of them all the way through that square. So now we’ve talked a bit about the limiting beliefs, impostor feelings, the inner critic, and we’ve worked on our mindset and our belief systems, the next step you talk about is being seen as a leader by others. And so what does it take for us to be seen as a leader at a high level, and then we’ll start diving in and playing with some of the details of that one, Carla.


Carla Miller  26:14

So, for me, a lot of this is about stepping into the authority that comes with your job title. So society trains women to be really comfortable with responsibility, taking responsibility for things, putting other people’s needs before our own, people pleasing, all of it, saying yes to everything, all of that side of things. And much of that doesn’t go that well with stepping into a leadership role where you’re having to ask people to do things, for example. And society doesn’t train us to be comfortable with authority. And in fact, many people still are uncomfortable with authority. There’s a fantastic book, so my book is mainly about how the women deal with this. There’s a fantastic book on the issue of gender bias called The Authority Gap by Marianne Sega. And she gives lots of examples in that of how she’s interviewed women at some of the top positions in the world and they’re still being challenged by many levels below them. Challenged as to whether they’re right or wrong, because their authority isn’t being respected. So there’s a lot of foundation there for why women don’t claim the authority that goes with their job title. But I encourage people to do that, we may not naturally have gravitas or authority, but actually, as well as taking on the responsibility that comes with your job role, you’d need to claim the authority that comes with it too. So that might look like setting really clear expectations, holding people to those expectations, setting and holding boundaries. And I see a lot of people do the first bit or we’ll set our expectations, but then people will let us down or not do the task that they’ve been delegated. And we go oh, okay, you had other priorities, that’s fine. I’ll do it then. And we train people to keep doing that. So that’s one of the core things, stepping into the authority that comes with your role. Another is being really intentional about what kind of leader do you want to be because often, and this isn’t just a women thing at all, we fall into managing and leading and we, we look at the people around us and think, oh, maybe we should be leading like them. But we don’t take the time to think what kind of leader do I want to be. And I believe that if we’re intentional about how we show up, that acts as a filter that encourages other people to see us in that way. And we can talk about that. I call it your personal leadership brand. And then finally, I’ve got a meeting toolkit in there, which helps you to communicate powerfully in meetings communicate, like a leader and not, for example, use lots of qualifying statements, as many women in the workplace do. And again, we’ve talked about why we do that.


Clint Murphy  28:43

Yeah, let’s start there. Because that can be an absolute deal killer that I see in a lot of young leaders, especially women that I try to work with to say, don’t eliminate these words from your vocabulary. Don’t use them in meetings, you’re undermining your authority. And that’s your idea of power words. So I definitely want to spend some time there. And as well as you have some questions that you ask people to think about to determine their own personal leadership brand, which I think is very, very relevant, and would love to spend time on that and the way you described it, choosing how you want to show up as a leader, and being intentional about it. Because when we see that vision of this is the leader I want to be, then we can ask ourselves, how would that leader act and that’s how I’m going to behave. So let’s dive into your personal leadership brand and follow that up with power words.


Carla Miller  29:42

Okay, fantastic. So the personal leadership brand, there’s a process to it and it’s a pretty simple process. It’s worth grabbing a pen and paper and spending some time doing it but the questions you can ask yourself, the first one is to kind of get your ideas flowing is what leaders do I admire and what are the leadership traits that I admire about them? Because I think we do spend a lot of time thinking on that leaders fantastic, but actually, they’re really extroverted and I’m introverted, or vice versa. And comparing ourselves, when in fact, we can think well, actually, I admire that person. But specifically what I admire is how they make someone feel, or how they communicate, or how they always deliver. So it’s worth asking yourself that question. And what I encourage people to do with this exercise is have a piece of paper so don’t make your writing huge. And just jot down all the words or phrases that come to you in answer to these different questions. And that will help us create our power words at the end or our personal leadership brand. So that’s the first question. The second question is just off the top of your head. What kind of leader do you want to be? How What impact do you want to have on others? How would you like people to describe you, because what I should have started by saying is your personal brand is people’s lived experience of you. It’s essentially how people would describe you. So it’s how maybe your team members describe your management style, what your peers think of you, how your manager describes you when they’re talking about you in the organization, what your chief exec thinks your potential is within the organization. All of that builds up to be your personal brand. And probably different people might be having different experiences of you. And we’re all going through our days, probably reacting as much as we’re responding. So not being as intentional as we could be about how we show up. So thinking about well what kind of leader do I want to be –  putting some headspace and to eat, go for a walk and just ponder that question. Then, from there, we think about well, what do you uniquely bring and what’s important to you? So we look at things like values, if you’ve done any work on your values before, you might already know your work values, but maybe it’s about collaboration, maybe it’s about success, maybe it’s about status, maybe it’s about empathy. We all have different values, but thinking what values are most important to me and popping that down on the page as well. And then we look at well, in terms of what you uniquely bring, what strengths do you bring, because we don’t want you to be a leader like someone else. Actually, this is about how your workplace needs you to be the best version of you. They need you to be more you and I’m not talking about completely unedited. No one needs to show up in the workplace completely unedited. But I’m talking about owning what you’re good at, rather than trying to fit yourself into the box that you think leadership should be. So thinking about your strengths, it might be things you’ve had feedback for, it might be things that you really enjoy, there’s a model, and I don’t think I put it in the book because it doesn’t belong to me. But there’s a model called the Zone of Genius by Gay Hendricks Have you ever come across that one,


Clint Murphy  32:51

I come across zone of genius, a fair amount of time on Twitter, there’s a writer Sahil bloom, who uses zone of genius fairly regularly.


Carla Miller  33:00

So the model that I’m referring to, and there may well be a crossover between the two is by Gay Hendricks, who wrote a great book called The Big Leap, which is fantastic personal development book. And it was aimed at entrepreneurs. And it said, basically, you could put the tasks that you do into one of four boxes, there’s your zone of incompetence, the things that you’re really not very good at, and that absolutely drain your energy, then there’s your zone of competence. So these are the things that you’re decent at, you’re probably pretty average at, they don’t drain your energy, but they don’t give you any energy. Then there’s your zone of excellence, which are the things you’re really good at, they do energize you, and the zone of genius is almost like the top five or 10% of your zone of excellence. They’re the things that come so naturally to you that you probably undervalue them, but actually, they’re very, very effective and very valuable. And it might be you’ve received feedback on them, it might be that’s a bit of your job you enjoy the most, it might be that’s the thing you do for free, because it’s so rewarding, or you just feel really in flow when you do it. So I’d lead people through an exercise when we do this in person, helping them identify their zone of genius, and actually with women, I helped them to own it as well. The first time I had a group of women in a room, we did this exercise, there’s about 20 of them. And I said now stand up and share your zone of genius with us. So stand up and say I am excellent at x or I am brilliant at x. Of 20, I think to manage to do that the rest of them are like well, someone once told me this or my line manager says or I think I might sometimes be okay at this, or people felt very, very uncomfortable owning their strengths, and I would put good money on the fact if you had had a roomful of men doing that they would have felt a lot more comfortable owning those strengths because again, society does not really celebrate women owning their strengths and confidently saying what they’re good at. It can be seen as quite threatening, as too strong. They have taken those messages on board from when we’ve been young children. And if things are changing, they’re not changing quickly enough. And just like you said earlier, many of our thoughts are developed when we’re children, our inner critic develops when we’re young. And that way of thinking often stays with us. So going back to the model, identify your zone of genius, really own the things that you are uniquely good at, and you don’t have to be the world’s best at them, you just have to be really good at them and really enjoy doing them. Then the third part is recognizing your leadership style doesn’t operate in a vacuum. I’ve seen people move from one organization to another, and they’ve been successful organization A, they move to organization B with a different culture, and it’s really not going down very well at all, and they’re unable to adapt. And so this is the bit about adapting to the organization. So look at your priorities over the next six months and think in order to achieve those priorities, what leadership traits do I need to have? And what does my team need for me as a leader, and then also, if you’re looking to develop within your organization think what does my organization value in its leaders, because in one organization, being collaborative could be the best thing you could be and another organization is much more competitive. And being collaborative is seen as a sign of weakness. So you’ve really got to operate within the culture that you are sat within. So that’s what we do together your list of words, then you’ve got list of words on the page, I usually play some nice music, and you highlight the ones that really leap out at you ideally, picking a few from the different sections of the page, so that we’re bringing in all those different questions we asked. Then from there, let’s say you’ve got eight to 10 words, we want to refine that into three words or phrases. Now I say three, because we want this to be memorable. Your personal brand is not a statement that you’re ever going to share with anybody else. This is just for you. So we want them to be things you can keep front of mind. And it might be that you look at some of those words and go well actually, there’s one word or one phrase that sums them up. For me, one of them, I was a change maker, I like to make an impact. I like to collaborate and bring people on the journey and vision and positive force of nature was one of my phrases. It was basically what I wanted to be, someone who created change in a really positive way. So you end up with these phrases. Ones I quite often have at the moment are inspiring, and insightful and integrity. Like those are the three things that if I wanted people to describe me afterwards, I would tick those boxes, because that’s what’s important to me. So you’ve got your power words, your three phrases. And the idea is that they basically act as a subconscious filter for your communication. So let’s say one of yours was to be more strategic, you wanted to be seen as a strategic leader. When you’re in a meeting, instead of diving into the detail, our heads going, oh, how can I be more strategic about this? What’s the strategic question I could ask here? Now, it sounds ridiculously simple. But I have so many clients come back to me and say, I’m now being described with those words. And I haven’t actually vocalize them very much at all. But people are now describing me like that, because I am intentionally showing up like that. So for me, that’s the power of focus, intention. It’s really simple. I just made it up one day, tried it with a few people, it worked really well. And now it’s just worked really, really well with hundreds and hundreds of people. So simple, but powerful. I think I can see you thinking there kids?


Clint Murphy  38:35

Well, it ties to the you know, we often talk about this idea that our feelings become thoughts, thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits. That’s how we get known.  And you’re short circuit or not short circuiting it, what you’re doing is you’re using that in a powerful, intentional way to say if that does happen, why don’t we choose those words, so that we become what we want. And we’re seen how we want to be seen. So we’re using the words become actions become how we’re seen and choosing the words ourselves, and saying, This is how I’m going to be seen, it just seems so powerful. And such a great cheat code to become the person we want to be.


Carla Miller  39:32

Absolutely. And I think if we want to show up differently, it’s got to start with identity, hasn’t it? And that’s why you go through this whole process as well, to really start to own that about yourself and recognize it because we know that if you want to change habits, you want to adopt the identity of someone who has those habits. So I would love to be healthier, for example. And when I go running, I say to myself in my head lots of times, I am a runner, as opposed to saying to my head this is really really hard work. I’d like to stop now and I’m gonna have some chocolate afterwards to make up for it, I adopt that identity. And so it’s that same way of thinking, basically, you’re conscious about your identity, and you show up differently. And when we show up differently, people respond differently as well. I had one client who was sent on my Influence and Impact course by someone who said, you’re very much like a manager, but you’re not much of a leader. And within three months, she was being celebrated in the organization as a leader, and at her next review, they were like, there’s nothing we can add here on leadership, you’re just doing fantastically. And she had been an amazing student in my course. But she really embodied how do I want to show up and be perceived and put that into action. And it had radically changed how she showed up, and also how people perceived her, it works for interviews, as well. So I encourage people going into an interview to think, how do I want them to describe me when I leave the room. So that bit, if you’ve been on the interview panel, you know, someone leaves the room and you turn to each other, see what everyone’s impressions are. If you’re really intentional about how you want people to describe you, it will come across in the interview. And also you can weave that into your interview answers and weave those specific words into your interview answers, as well.


Clint Murphy  41:17

Yeah, I remember when I was training to be the CFO that was in place at the time, would often stop me on the way to a meeting and we’ll talk a bit about this in the pre meeting work. Because if you share similarly, and he would say before we get there, let’s just take a few minutes, think about how you want to show up in this meeting. And picture the meeting, as if you’re watching a movie, how are you sitting? How are you talking? How are you showing up to the audience? And just close your eyes visualize tha, now let’s go into the meeting. At the time, I was quite young, I thought, wow, this is pretty crazy what we’re doing here. And then over time you realize, if I premeditate who I want to be, I’ll be that person. And people will see what I want them to see. And it’s the amount of time it takes to go from person A to person B, C, D, it’s much shorter than we realize, and one of the key words that you’ve used a few times when we’re intentional about it. And we make those choices. Which brings me to the next question, because we’re talking about as we go into meetings, and meetings are a spot that can be very challenging for women. You highlight, they feel like they struggle speaking up, getting their voice heard and making points powerfully. They’re interrupted 50% of the time, and 96% of the time, that’s by men. And so to help them in meetings, you suggest let’s do some pre meeting work before you go in there. So can we take our listeners through that? And then as well, on top of that, when they do get interrupted, what are some techniques that they can use to get their point back across to finish up their thoughts? Thanks for listening. If you enjoy what you’re hearing so far, and want me to be able to get your favorite guests on this show, please do me a quick favor, subscribe to the show. And leave me a rating, the 30 seconds of your time will mean a ton to me.


Carla Miller  43:33

Okay, so in answer to the first question about how do you prepare for meetings, a few simple things you can do. So the first thing and everyone should do this preparing for a meeting is what do I want to achieve from this meeting? Because I think so often we just roll into meetings and then react to them. And it’s like, why are you going into a meeting if you’re not clear what you want to achieve? And maybe that’s you need some information, you need a decision, or maybe it’s just I want to be seen as credible. In my role, I want to be seen as ready for the next stage. I want to build that relationship with that senior stakeholder. So be clear, what do I want to achieve? And then secondly, how do I want to be perceived. So this might be your personal leadership brand, you might be applying that in all your meetings, or it might be in this particular meeting, you want to be perceived in a particular way. I had a client who she was a consultant and her client regularly challenged her and didn’t listen to her even though she had hired her for her insight and expertise. And she said I just want her to recognize me as an expert. So I said right, you go into your next meeting, just the word you have in your head is expert. You claim that space of being expert. You’re intentional about being the expert, and that’s what she did. At one point she had to remind the woman she was being paid for her expertise, but the woman completely changed,her client completely changed how she responded and she respected her a lot more and even started referring to her as well, you’re the expert. So I’ll listen to you on this. So it’s really, really simple when he put it in action. It’s ridiculous. But I think it’s the power of focus, isn’t it? I think we just don’t usually focus. So it’s that power of focus. And it’s really simple. You don’t need to believe in anything woowoo you just have to choose how do I want to be perceived and show up that way. I have other clients where they were a group of women, and they’re in a startup and everyone at the level, my senior level is male. They attend these meetings, as well as the women. And they noticed that the men were presenting everything they did as a strategy, and everyone was going, wow, that’s amazing, so strategic.  Whereas the women were talking about their workload, and their plans and what they done, and weren’t getting much credit for it. And they all sat there and went, does anyone notice that men use the word strategy an awful lot, try doing that. And so they started referring to everything they did as a strategy. And they got this incredible feedback from then on, because they tapped into this word that everyone valued within the organization. So it can be really simple. So think about either your personal leadership brand words, or just for this meeting, particularly how do you want to be perceived. And then the final thing you can go in more powerfully is something I’m sure many of your listeners are familiar with, is the idea of power posing. So Dr. Amy Cuddy popularized this idea, you hold a powerful pose for two minutes, it makes you feel more powerful for the rest of the day. I have clients that get called into meetings and quickly go into the bathroom before they need to go in so that they can power pose. I personally also love a bit of a power song. So I used to go into pitches when I was a fundraiser for millions of pounds. And at the time, again, I’m dating myself, but Eye of the tiger for Rocky was my favorite song. But later on, I was a managing director of a recruitment company, I was made managing director after one year in recruitment. And these very people that had trained me, I was now leading, and they were amazing. So they weren’t challenging at all. But I really needed to feel more powerful. And on my half hour walk to work, I would listen to basically girl rap songs. And I would go in and pretty much dancing my way in feeling completely in control and powerful. And it really changed how I felt and how I showed up. So those are the three things you can do. What do you want to achieve? How do you want to be perceived? And what can you do using your body language or music, to go in feeling more powerful,


Clint Murphy  47:35

That’s wonderful. And we look at it, a lot of people use the idea of the law of attraction. And I have a few friends and I always say, hey, we should replace the law of attraction with the law of action. And part of what you’re doing with saying, here’s how I want to show up. This is the word, this is what I want to be seen as, and then you’re layering on it. Well, if I want to be seen that way, this is how I need to behave. And so it’s almost combining the law of attraction with the law of action.  I’ll change my behavior to be known for x and x is what I want to attract. And then they’re attracting it. That is wonderful. One thing that if you’re going into the meetings, one of your challenges is anxiety, or fear, one thing we can add to our listeners is to do some simple breath, work, box breathing, breathe in for four or five seconds, pause for four or five seconds, breathe out for four or five seconds, pause for four or five seconds, just calms down your nervous system, and then you go in and it helps shed that anxiety. I love the idea of combining that with the Superman pose, which I think is an example they’ve shown actually does increase your testosterone levels. So it’s not just the mental it physiologically does changes in your body, which is absolutely incredible. And so we’re in the meeting, we did our pre work, we’re ready to go. And someone interrupts us, how do we get to finish our thought so that we don’t always get cut off?


Carla Miller  49:16

Okay so I’d like to cover first what we can do. And secondly, what other people can do, because often it’s easier if somebody else helps out in that situation. So when we’re interrupted, you have to choose how assertive you want to be in that situation. And I would say there’s a cultural divide here, because I think, and I don’t know about Canada, but I know in America, certainly the women are more assertive in the workplace than in the UK. So in the UK, we sit there and we decide, well, how senior is this person? And how can we get the floor back without creating tension that distracts from the point we’re trying to make? So sometimes it’s a question if you want to keep talking is a case of saying I’ve nearly finished, or just let me finish my point. If you want to be more assertive, I’m still talking. For many of us, what I see a lot of women doing in the workplace is basically we let the other person talk, they’re often a more dominant voice. But then afterwards, we jump in. And we say, we might want to say, thanks for that, going back to my point, or if they’ve made a point, because they’re talking on your behalf. And actually, it’s not the point you wanted to make and go, that was an interesting point, John, but the point I was trying to make or the point I was making was this. So something that basically reclaims the floor, what you don’t want to do once someone’s interrupted and you’ve let them speak, is just let it go. Because you will never get that moment back. So I imagine it as a microphone, as someone’s grabbed the microphone off you. They’ve made their point, you want to get the microphone back, reclaim it, basically. But what’s much easier if if someone does that for you. And this is one of the many ways in which men can support women in the workplace in that you can say I really found the point Carla was making interesting I’d like to hear more about that, or I think Carlos interrupted. Do you want to continue?


Clint Murphy  51:12

Yeah, so in that situation, John, Carla was sharing a thought there. I’d like to hear her finish that.


Carla Miller  51:18

Yeah. So men can be fantastic allies in passing the mic back. What we don’t need you to do is I think the point Carla was trying to make is, and make our point for us, which I think sometimes happens when people are trying to be helpful. There’s a phrase for that He-peating, where we make a point, no one pays much attention. And a man makes the point everyone thinks it’s the best idea anyone’s ever heard. It happens. I mean, I did a poll on LinkedIn, I think it happened to about 70% of the women that answered the poll within the last six months. So it happens regularly. And again, anyone in the room can say, I really enjoyed Carla’s thoughts on that or I really enjoyed Sarah’s thoughts on that. Can we hear more from her? Or I like how you’ve built on Sarah’s point there. Sarah, do you have anything else to add to that. So just making sure that credit is going, where it’s due, and women we can amplify each other. So I don’t know if you’ve heard of this strategy of amplification. But in Obama’s presidential room, there were obviously lots of very, very intelligent men and women but the women notice, because the authority and the influence gap is real, that their contributions were not being taken as seriously were not valued as much that they were being interrupted, repeated, etc. And so they agreed to amplify each other and came up with a strategy of amplification, which was exactly that passing the mic back to that person championing women within the room saying that was a good point, making sure they got the credit for what they had done. And so I always really encourage women to do that for each other. But men can absolutely do that, too. And unfortunate, but true, you are more likely to be listened to than we are. So men can be fantastic allies. In fact, gender equality initiatives are much, much more successful if men are engaged in them, there is very little point in just empowering women, if nothing changes in the workplace around them.


Clint Murphy  53:25

Yeah, the interesting part is that I learned, the more that I dive into diversity and inclusion. Training, is generally the only people that can make the systemic lasting change are the people in power, which tends to be the straight CIS heterosexual white guys like it’s on us to make the changes to make sure that everyone’s voice is heard. And I just wrote down He-peating, because that’s the first time I’ve heard that one. And it’s, I know, I’ve seen it in action. And so he repeating is on my list. Now, that was a wonderful addition to my vocabulary. Thank you. It will be in the thread when we write about this show and how people can improve. The fun part is, that’s language, it’s phrasing, and it’s something that will stick in your head. And one of the important points you talk about and this is the one that I think should be very, or could be easier for young women to fix is what are those word choices? What is that language that we use? And a lot of it can be qualifiers that detract from our leadership brand. And so what should we be looking for and what do we want to change it to?


Carla Miller  54:52

Great question, so I call it caveating. It’s also called qualifying statements, but essentially often when Women are making a point in meetings, particularly a challenging point, they will start with a sentence that doesn’t serve them at all. So common ones might be, I’m not sure. But I might be wrong. But correct me if I’m wrong, I might be taking us out off on a tangent here. There’s all sorts of ones out there. And we also do ones at the end as well. So at the end, we’ll make a really good point. And then we’ll say, does that make sense? As if it might not have made sense. And the interesting thing is, we’re saying I’m not sure about when we are sure, we’re saying I might be wrong, when we know we’re not wrong. Those phrases are essentially saying you probably don’t need to listen to me on this. I’m not even sure that I’m right. Those phases, I’ll say exactly the opposite of what we want to achieve. So why do we do that? There’s a number of reasons that we do that. Firstly, we might well have seen other women do it in the workplace and recognize, okay, so that’s how people start their contributions. Secondly, it becomes habitual. So we might start it for a challenging point. And then we just get used to saying it. But also, the main reason we do it is because it has never been safe for women to just speak their mind, unedited, in the workplace without consequence, in a way that it is for men. And there’s a really interesting book called Patriarchy Stress Disorder. And I don’t know if you’ve come across this idea, but it’s that not only have we all got our own individual experiences, of not feeling safe speaking up in the workplace. And that happens to everybody we’ve all had those times, particularly earlier in our career, we’ve had an idea, and we’ve been really shot down, and our inner critic goes, well, it’s not safe to have ideas, definitely not safe to say them in rooms with senior people. That’s what happens to you , don’t do that again. So if you’ve got an inner critic that keeps you safe, but Patriarchy Stress Disorder basically says what’s happening collectively to women, affects our nervous system as well. So when we see women’s rights being challenged in other countries, for example, we recognize actually, our rights are fragile. They’re tenuous. They’re kind of gifted to us, and people can take them away at any point, so we don’t feel safe. We also, this comes through genetically as well. So it’s absolutely fascinating. They did experiments on mice, not that I’m a fan of experimenting on animals, but they did experiments on mice where inflicted some kind of pain on mice where the smell of cherry blossom, or I think it’s the smell of cherry at the same time, and three generations later. So mice that had never been exposed to any form of pain, they were terrified of the smell of cherry because it had just been passed down genetically. So the book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder basically says it has never felt safe, as a woman to speak up, unedited. And we do know that we are judged more harshly, we do know that men are proved competent, unless proven otherwise. Women in many, many rooms assumed incompetent unless they prove otherwise. And there’s a few books out there that are brilliant at evidencing that and, it’s a very depressing, read. But the other thing that we know happens is that people confuse confidence and competence. So men are generally a lot more confident. And then people assume therefore that they’re competent. And there’s a great book on that, too. I think what it’s called, it’s something like Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? Written by a man and a fantastic ally, because a woman could never write that book. Can you imagine the reaction if a woman wrote that written by a man, fantastic ally. But it does say we’re valuing the wrong things in leadership with valuing confidence when we should actually be looking at competence. We’re looking at all of the wrong things in leadership. So sorry, that was a very long winded answer to what are the things that we are doing that are not serving as a meeting. So what we need to do is to replace those phrases with phrases that achieve the same thing, but are empowering rather than disempowering, because we still probably want to soften our more challenging points. And again, there might be cultural differences here, between different countries. But certainly a woman cannot speak as directly as a man can in a meeting and get the same response. And studies show we’d need to be likable in order to succeed in the workplace, which is just really deeply annoying, but is something that is evidence. So we want to be able to introduce our points. So it might be a case of saying there’s something I’d like to contribute here. It might be a case of using questions. Could we think about this in another way? Have we explored all the options? Are there any avenues we haven’t gone down? Do we advance? I’ve lost them off the top of my head, but there are many. I always say you can always ask a question rather than making a statement by asking a question. It’s really hard to get shot down but you can strategically shape and shift the conversation and the narrative of a meeting. There are many things that you can do. And then at the end, if you’re someone who says, Does that make sense? Just stop saying, Does that make sense? Because it does make sense. And if it doesn’t, someone will tell you or ask a question. And if they’re asking a question, it doesn’t mean they didn’t make sense, they just need the information in a different way for their thinking style, or they need more information. Instead, make your final point and then decide what you’re going to say at the end. So it might be to say, I’m happy to take questions on that, I’d be interested in your thoughts on that. Another thing a lot of women do is we make our point, and then we start doubting ourselves. And then we mumble on and kind of fade away into nothing. And I encourage people to end strong. It happens a lot. So imagine a full stop, make your point, imagine a full stop, and then use more powerful body language to indicate that you’ve finished because many of us shrug and go, that’s all from us. Again, diminishing what we’ve contributed to the meeting. So just sit back, or bring your hands together, or sit forward, whatever you want to do to indicate okay, I’m finished. Now, you can all join in without feeling like, oh, I need to pass the spotlight onto someone else as quickly as possible, because I feel really uncomfortable with it, which is what a lot of people experience


Clint Murphy  1:01:18

And can you even end with something like that, I noticed I’ve been doing that in social audio media rooms, when I’m finished a point, I’ll either just stop and shut off my mic, which is like, to your point of hard stop. Or sometimes I’ll just say, whoever is chairing that meeting, back to you, Steve. And just shut off my mic, instead of continuing the ramble. But I’m not sure in a meeting, I’d want to say back to you, Chris, and shut myself down. Do that hard stop and get comfortable with it?


Carla Miller  1:01:46

Exactly. Or just come up with one phrase you do feel comfortable with, which might be, what I try not to make it too close, like any questions? but it could be value, any feedback on that I’ll be really interested to hear people’s response to that. Anything that says, Okay, I’m now welcoming conversation on this, and then people know to expect that from you. And they also not know not to interrupt you halfway through because you haven’t sat back and said your finishing phrase.


Clint Murphy  1:02:10

And something that really intrigued me there was you said that men can be confident without any qualifiers, women need to have some. And I know, somewhere in my leadership journey for some reason, I learned that I speak with 100% confidence, even when I’m only 60% confident. And I’ve had the conversations with my teams to say, hey, I’ve learned this about myself. So always do ask me questions and challenge it. Why is it okay for men to just have that confidence level. And you’re saying, the research has shown that if women behave in that same way, it doesn’t actually get them ahead.


Carla Miller  1:02:59

Because it’s threatening, because we have this idea in society of what a woman should be like, and a woman should not be direct, or we will be called demanding. There are a whole list of words that are applied to strong direct women that are not applied to men. So we might be called demanding, a diva. There are worse words that I don’t like to repeat. But there is a whole load of language that is only applied to strong women, because it’s a challenge. And again, this isn’t any one individual. It’s not a flaw from any one individual. It’s that society teaches us to value different things in men and women. And that absolutely needs to change. And I think we can all think of women who are strong and empathetic, so Jacinda Ardern, for example, in New Zealand, she’s amazing, because she leads in her way. But she also doesn’t take any crap from anyone. And I think it’s finding that way I think we can be, I think we can be confident, but what I don’t think we can. I don’t think women have the luxury with gender bias, as it stands to just say what we think and not have any consequences from that. And I think men, you don’t have to go through that filtering process in the same way. In fact, that act as if you’re 100% confident when you’re only 60% confidence. Many, many women would consider that to be inauthentic. So it’s really interesting. We will consider that to be faking it till you make it and we’d be worried that we will be found out.


Clint Murphy  1:04:30

Yeah. Which is why I have impostor feelings horribly all the time.


Carla Miller  1:04:33

Well you would do if you feel like you’ve got to pretend that you know more than you do, or you’re more sure than you are that is going to lead to impostor feelings, isn’t it? So I can’t say that. I would much rather I said I’m 60% sure on this. You know, there’s room for error. But on based on the knowledge I have at the moment, this is what we’re doing. This is why we’re doing it. We’ll course correct if we need to, I do think impostor feelings come from the fact we think we should know all the answers. When actually sometimes we just don’t And that’s okay as leaders to not know all the answers.


Clint Murphy  1:05:03

Yeah, it’s interesting. The I had another guest on who we were talking about a similar topic. And she, in some of the research she’d done, it indicated that men and women, which ties to what we’re talking about right now, actually, they have very similar levels of impostor feelings. Men have a habit more of just saying, okay, well, the impostor feelings there, I’m just pushing through it. And I’m going to act as if that impostor feelings not there, which is a bit of an interesting contrast. And the acting as if I’m going to be confident, even when I’m not confident ties to that idea that you’d already touched on, which is a great transition jumping point to gravitas, and some of gravitas can take purposeful, concerted, intentional effort overtime, is an example I’ve noticed, I’ll say, in my workplace, or even with me personally, as I’ve extended my time as a leader, I’ve slowed down my speech pattern. It’s a calmer tone, I speak from a deeper place in my body. So the tone that comes out is a deeper voice. And I’ve seen people who seem like they’re going from a character in like an animated show, to Bat Dad. And for people who don’t know Bat Dad talks like this, and I’m thinking, well, does no one notice that? That guy didn’t talk like that a year ago, or two years, or like, it’s just deeper and deeper every single year. And so you talk about this idea that if we want to have gravitas, there are certain things that we can do in our behaviors and how we show up in you have a framework for here’s the steps you can take to increase it. What are some of those that you can share with the listeners that can help them show up as that leader?


Carla Miller  1:07:11

I think the first thing I want to say is I distinguish between authority and gravitas. So for me, authority is about okay, I’m owning the authority that comes with this role. I’m acting as a leader at this level. And for me, gravitas, and we say it differently in different countries, and is about being able to be solemn and serious and deliver a very serious message so that it’s heard. So that might be used for like, for example, in performance management, or in holding someone accountable for something, or you’re a young woman in a room full of 60 year old men, and you need to be seen as having more gravitas. So for me, I do not think that you have to have gravitas all the time. So I have clients who come to me and say I’m not being taken seriously as a leader, because I’m being told I’m too nice, I’m too smiley, I’m too happy. And I call bullshit on that. Basically, you can be smiley and happy as long as you can also make the tough decisions and have the tough conversations in an appropriate tone. So for me, it’s about the tone. And, and there are numerous steps you can take. And you’ve alluded to some of them, you can slow down the pace of what you’re saying. So you can use more pauses, you can make your point and pause. So really own that space, we sometimes worry as women that if we pause, someone will jump in. But actually, if you do it in a way that owns that pause, and you don’t change your body language that people know you’re about it, you’re still continuing to speak, that can be really helpful. And also your tone of voice. So we often speak from the just our throat basically quite high pitch. Actually, we want to speak from our gut and our diaphragm. And so learning how to do that. And I find I must do this in my podcasts. I noticed sometimes actually, I can lower my voice and it has a greater sense of authority. So if you watch newsreaders delivering bad news, they’ll slow down and they’ll lower their tone of voice. Now what’s really interesting, my thoughts are evolving on this because I ran a course called Be Bolder, which is a confidence course for women. And women love it and find it really empowering. But one of them came back to me. So there was one thing that really didn’t sit well with me. And that was the idea that my voice has to be lower for me to be taken seriously, as a leader. Why aren’t we challenging that and saying, it doesn’t matter how high pitch my voice is, what I have to stay is still credible. And actually, I think she makes a really valid point there. And I’m not talking about trying to be like someone else. So I do think if you’re delivering something serious, the person you’re going into a meeting with needs to know that that’s serious, and that’s about energetically becoming more solemn and your tone of voice slowing down taking pauses, much more use of silence rather than filling. The silence is really really important. However, she is right that to be taken seriously, we shouldn’t have to sound more like men. So that’s something I’m still thinking about at the moment actually is, should I be? Should I keep saying now? Or should I be challenging that and saying, Actually, women’s voices are higher? I mean, when you’re high pitched, and you’re struggling to take a breath, it’s very hard to take you seriously. But equally, it’s very hard to take someone seriously if they’re super slow, so slow that they’re boring. So I wonder if that’s something that we do need to actually challenge you, though, is that an assumption we’re making? Because our picture of gravitas and authority is a man? I don’t know, what do you think?


Clint Murphy  1:10:40

I think your course is likely wonderful. And you don’t need to change it on the feedback of one person if you’ve had so many people through the course. And where I would challenge her is, there are so many societal constructs that we should absolutely challenge. And was I taken or am I taken more seriously, as a man, when I modulated my tone, and modulated the speed of my speech, and without a doubt 100%. So I don’t think it’s necessarily about women, speaking like a man, per se, rather, even women or men, when we slow down. And when we do deepen, there’s a certain level of, for example, when I’m on the podcast, when you will hear my voice go up, and probably you’ll notice for yourself, is when we get excited, and when we’re talking about something exciting, because then you’re out of that place of mind, where you’re being serious, where you’re being thoughtful and purposeful, in you’re just letting it go. And so I think to some extent, when we hear someone speaking that way, our brain may say, oh,  they’re not in that deep spot. They’re not speaking from that deep core. They’re just being fanciful. Because I know that’s when I lose the ability to stay below a certain decibel, or what have you. So absolutely, we should be taking seriously however, our voices. But if we go down the list, everything you and I are talking about today. Like we should be taken seriously, if we use qualifier statements, we should be taken seriously if we don’t do our pre meeting work. But the reason we’re giving these tools to people is society has trained people to think a certain way. So we could tell someone, hey, you should take me or Carla seriously, even if we’re high pitched. But if you go back to your experience with the mice, we’ve been trained for 1000s of years, that if someone speaks slower, and deeper, like a shaman, that’s the person we’re going to listen to and trust. Almost anytime you hear a spiritual leader in almost any culture now that I think about it that I’ve ever heard. Long pauses, slow speech, deep and you look at them and say that person is so wise. And that seems cross culture. So I think we as humans, have been trained just to zone in on that voice. And so it would be great if we didn’t need it. But I think that would take 1000s of years to to change. And you and I wouldn’t be able to influence it, so that was a really long answer to that. And to the point, anything we suggest, generally, there will be a small subset of the population that says, well, I don’t think I should have to do that, I think all of society should change. Instead.


Carla Miller  1:13:52

It’s true. For me, I think it’s really useful to have that reflection back. And for me to question myself and just double check. Am I exacerbating a situation here? Or am I helping to create work to empower people to lead their way so that we’ve got a different variety of what leadership looks like, going on here? So yeah, it’s interesting. And it’s just the tone like the deepness of voice, which genetically favors men where it’s like, oh, I think I can see the point she’s making there. But I like your reframe.


Clint Murphy  1:14:24

Well there’s two different things, right? There’s, when I’m talking to you now, I’m not modifying my voice. I’m simply speaking from to your point, a deeper diaphragmatic breathing, diaphragmatic speaking, versus throat speaking. And so it comes out deeper, there’s that and then there’s artificially making my voice deeper by changing. Now, we’re not suggesting people start modifying their voice. We’re simply saying it comes across, stronger when you speak from a deeper part of yourself. That to me is less faking, it’s less inauthentic. We’re simply saying, if you speak from a deeper part of yourself, it will come out differently and be interpreted differently. It’s still your voice. It’s just from a different spot. If we say, hey, be Bat Dad, and play with your throat, because that’s not real, that can’t be permanent. Whereas when you speak from a deeper spot that can be permanent. It’s just teaching you to speak from a different part of your own. But it’s still your voice. You’re not faking something. I think that’s a really important differentiator, given what we talked about earlier with the faking till you make it. It’s still your authentic voice. It’s just you hadn’t found it yet.


Carla Miller  1:15:37

Exactly it’s extending your range, isn’t it? And using your full range, rather than sticking to it a limited range? So yes, I agree.


Clint Murphy  1:15:46

So now, we’ve worked on our mindset, we’ve shown up as a leader. Now, you want to teach people how to influence people, and you have a number, you have a six step model for influencing anyone at any level, what are two or three things that our listeners should be zoning in on to increase their influence at work? What are a couple of the ones that you really want to hammer home for them?


Carla Miller  1:16:16

So I think the first one is that if you need to influence someone, you need to be able to put yourself in their shoes. And it helps if you’ve done the groundwork of building a relationship with them. Because that will make it easier. But if not, you could be doing some research to understand more about their situation. But often we think influencing is other people around to our point of view. And that’s not how I see influencing. I see influencing as going in with your perspective, recognizing there are other perspectives and finding the way forward that’s most effective for everyone. And so, because what happens at the moment is we think we’re right, they think they’re right, we’re making the other person wrong. And it’s really hard to make any progress. And that gets ingrained in tensions between individuals and departments. Whilst instead if you can recognize okay, so where does this sit in their priorities? What concerns might they have about it? What else is keeping them up at night? What are their stakeholders gonna think about this? How does it impact them? If you think about those things, which are essentially their objections, if we think about it in a sales conversation, we would call those objections or concerns. You don’t know someone’s objections, and you can’t overcome them, you can’t discuss them. So I really encourage people, if you’re trying to influence someone, start with putting yourself in their shoes, rather than making them like the alien other, who’s got it wrong, and just needs to see the world how you see it. Instead, put yourself in their shoes. And then I think the other key thing you can do, and this is really useful when influencing senior stakeholders is think about the language that they use, and what’s important to them. So if you’ve got a senior stakeholder you really want to influence, I encourage you to get really curious be Think of yourself as a researcher, or a spy and gather information on that person. So how do they communicate? Are they direct? And to the point? Or do they love to tell a story? Are they someone who really wants to chat about your dog or your partner or your kids for 10 minutes before getting into the detail? Or are they someone that just wants you to get to the point? Do they want graphs, pictures, data, proposals, all of these things if you get them wrong can get in the way of them hearing your message. So this isn’t part of the six step model. It’s it’s a separate point. But the more you can speak the language of senior stakeholders, the more what you’re saying to them, is easier for them to take on board. And for them to think, oh, that could be something I would have thought of myself because it’s landing in my language. And they’re using phrases that I’ve used before they’re communicating in a way that I don’t have to put any brainpower into translating. It makes sense to me. We are all programmed. And this is one of the reasons why men get promoted more than women. We’re all programmed to be drawn to and respect people that remind us of ourselves. And so you can sort of mimic that by using their language. So it’s not about being inauthentic. It’s about being able to flex your language and your approach based on the person you’re trying to influence.


Clint Murphy  1:19:24

Yeah, that jumped out at me. I remember there was a time where I’d be at a leadership table and I would notice all the guys around me would all use, they would all speak the same way. They would all use the same words, the same phrases and I remember always thinking to myself, are these The Stepford Partners? Have they all gone to the same school of programming? Because it sounds like I’m hearing the exact same person six times. And maybe there was a level to what you’re saying and then they realized, well, if I want leader a to like me and promote me, I’ll speak and talk and mimic the speech patterns, the behaviors, the language choices of leader A. And then they became leader B and leader, Person C was like, Well, if I want to be A and B, I’ll start speaking like A and B. And all of a sudden, I’m sitting at the table thinking, my gosh, am I number seven? Did I mimic these people? Are we all the same? So I absolutely hear you on that one in. So couple things that you talked about in there. Because you touched on something that you later talk about as cognitive flexibility. Can you talk to the listeners about what that is, and how we can develop that?


Carla Miller  1:20:39

Absolutely. So the idea of cognitive flexibility is, and it’s a fantastic leadership trait or skill to have, is to go into any given situation. And rather than going in, like most of us do, whether this is my perspective, this is what’s right. But I’m willing maybe to listen to other people. Cognitive flexibility is the skill of being able to go in and before coming to your own conclusion, listen to and really hear the other perspectives. And so it’s the same as this leader speaks last idea from Simon Sinek, basically, that instead of going in knowing you’re right, and then you get that groupthink of people agreeing with you. Instead, you recognize that the way you’re looking at a situation is one perspective. And we all look at things through our perspective, our lens of our experience, we know that there’s confirmation bias. So we know that our brain decides on something and then only really sees the evidence that supports it and chooses to ignore the evidence that doesn’t support it. And that can lead to not being open to different perspectives at all. So just recognizing this is my perspective, there are other perspectives, valuing and asking to hear other perspectives are a brilliant skill to have, and particularly when it comes to influencing. And it’s another way of saying, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, we have an exercise where, if you’re struggling to influence someone, I would get you to stand in one position, and think, right, how do I feel about this person and this situation, and write that down. And then I would encourage you to go to another part of the room or to sit in a different chair, and pretend you’re stepping into the shoes of the other person and write down how do I as the other person feel about this situation about that other person. And then the third way of doing it is to then enter a neutral space. Or you can helicopter up and imagine you’re looking down. Or imagine you’re a coach analyzing the situation and say, What am I seeing playing out here? What am I seeing with this neutral perspective? And it can be really helpful often people struggle to put themselves in the other person’s perspective, which shows we’re we’re really stuck in needing to be right. And I often say to people when I’m coaching them, so do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy. And I think this refers to relationships a lot as well, you can either sit in that place of I’m right, and they’re wrong. Or you can sit in a place of having a discussion where maybe no one’s right or wrong. And there’s different ways of looking at things. So that’s just a really simple exercise. The influencing generally goes better if instead of thinking these are the facts, and I’m right, and I just need to convince someone else that then you recognize this is my perspective, there are other equally valid perspectives. And I’d be really interested to hear them to take them on board, and then see how that refines my thinking.


Clint Murphy  1:23:26

The other interesting aspect of that is it’s such an important part of increasing our empathy and emotional intelligence is that ability to put ourselves into the shoes and others, which may, and I may be mistaken on this. My recollection is women tend to be better at this than men in being able to take on other people’s perspectives and having that level of empathy.


Carla Miller  1:23:55

So my understanding is that yeah, women are more empathetic. Now, whether that’s genetic or whether society has programmed us to be more empathetic. I’m not sure. I suspect it’s more that we are encouraged to think of the needs of others. We’re encouraged. We celebrate women, putting others first you look at the Mother’s Day cards, and they’re all about sacrifice and celebrating that Shonda Rhimes made that point on an Oprah interview of why did Mother’s Day cards, celebrate all the sacrifices women have made when that is rarely what comes up on Father’s Day cards. So I think there’s some of tha’s society. But certainly it’s recognized that a feminine leadership trait is empathy. And it’s something that I think more and more organizations are valuing. Now, it was previously seen as almost as weakness was, I think when we went through a lot of change with the pandemic. It’s now been recognized that bringing your team with you and supporting your team and that mental health side of things is absolutely vital for leaders today.


Clint Murphy  1:24:58

Yeah, absolutely. And If you weren’t doing that over COVID. It’s just interesting what our teams went through what people went through, the isolation amplified everybody’s mental health challenges, people who didn’t even have mental health challenges that they were aware of all of a sudden, had anxiety had depression. People who had it blown up. And so not having those conversations and not being aware of that would have been a very challenging work situation to work through. That would have been very hard for a lot of people. The other thing that you talked about in there was this idea of thinking like a leader. So if someone wants to think like a leader and this will be the last question on the on the book, Carla. And then people can can go and read this masterpiece, and I’m loving the conversation I’m having with you on it is what are some of the things we want people to think about in when they want to think like a leader.


Carla Miller  1:25:59

So in the book, I suggest a number of, of mindset shifts that I made, and that I’ve seen other people make. But my favorite one is this idea of radical responsibility. So I believe that once you’re a manager and a leader, there are there are many fantastic things because you have the ability to create change. What I don’t think you get to be anymore is to be a victim to sit in that victim space and complain, because you do generally have the ability to influence and create change. And what I experienced early on in my career, I was very frustrated. My first chief exec will be a constructive agitator in that I wanted to create change, but all always in a really positive way. But I could always see how things could be better. And when I got to the point where I was leading teams, I was like, this is brilliant, because I hadn’t helped improve things. So I was leading a team, and we were all having issues with one department and everyone would just sit and complain about it, myself and all my peers and everyone. And I was like, Well, why don’t we just get together decide what we need. And then I’ll go and talk to that department, we’ll hear what they need, basically put them through the six step model, although I didn’t know it was my six step model at that point. And that’s what I did, I gathered that information, we sorted the problems got it done. Again, I was pitching for some a piece of work, like a big charity partnership. And they needed a five year organizational strategy. And I was about four levels below the Chief Exec. And we didn’t have a five year strategy. So I didn’t sit there and go, well, we can’t go for that money. I went to the chief exec and the directors and said, we need a five year strategy. And they went well, we haven’t got time to focus on that. I said, well use me. I’ll coordinate it. I’ve never done this before, but I’ll learn. And I’ll bring us all together and I made it happen. And we won two and a half million pounds. And it is essentially rather than complaining about problems, you find ways of solving them. And sometimes that means taking on the work. But sometimes it’s just being the person who raises the question, or get’s something on the agenda or gets it on the agenda of senior people. And that has got me promoted so many times, and I have never done it to get promoted. I never sat there and gone, I know what I do to get promoted. I’ve sat there and gone, what’s stopping me from being able to do my job? Well, what’s making it hard for my team to deliver? What can I do, or initiate or drive proactively to make that better. And I ended up managing director of a recruitment company. And I interviewed a lot of people. And I really noticed that those that demonstrated this radical responsibility when they came in, within 20 minutes of setting in front of me, I was like, I could send them anywhere, and they will get the job. These are the superstars. And it’s that way of thinking you could tell from their CV, you talk to them about problem solving, and they went into action mode rather than into victim stuck mode. So for me, that’s the main thing you can do as a leader is really think about where am I not taking radical responsibility? So where am I complaining? Where am I feeling stuck? And how could I think about that differently? What maybe I’ve got more power and influence in this situation than I think I have? Where could I start to create the change that needs to happen?


Clint Murphy  1:29:11

One of my favorite mindset, whether it’s radical responsibility, Extreme Ownership, I often phrase it is own your sh!t. It’s just taking charge of your life. And a lot of the things we’ve talked about today fall under that bucket, we can let things be the way they are. Or we can make these little tweaks and take responsibility for who we want to be how we want to show up and make these shifts to how we do that. And we’ll get further ahead. So that’s a great spot to end the formal conversation. Do you have time for a quick final four questions that we throw at our guests?


Carla Miller  1:29:50

Yes, sure.


Clint Murphy  1:29:51

Okay. What is a book that you’ve read that’s had a significant influence on your life?


Carla Miller  1:29:59

I think actually it’s one I referred to earlier, which is The Authority Gap by Marianne Sieghart. Because until then I was doing this coaching of women. And I was thinking, I don’t know why we need to do this, but it feels like we do and just having it laid out the inequity in the workplace. And the thing I haven’t referred to an interview that I really try and make sure I do in every interview is women and men. Obviously, we’re not homogenous groups. And obviously, the world also isn’t binary. But all the research out there is men and women. However, as a white woman, I have not faced barriers that a woman of color might have faced, or someone who is neurodiverse, or someone who was not able bodied. So I think it’s really important to recognize that there are additional challenges that others face. And her book does that very well. But it’s a great storytelling book about the various challenges that women face in the workplace. And I think every man should read it. I definitely think every male chief exec should read it. So that’s my top book, apart from mine, of course,


Clint Murphy  1:31:03

love it. And what are you currently reading right now?


Carla Miller  1:31:06

I am currently reading a book called Work Joy by Beth Stallwood. And it’s all about moving from work gloom to work joy. I had her on my podcast, and I recently did an episode on boundaries based on her book. So really recommend that book, how again, it links to that radical responsibility idea of working out what you can do to help you enjoy your job better, even if it’s not the perfect job.


Clint Murphy  1:31:35

And the book. Is it one word?


Carla Miller  1:31:38

Yes, one word, WorkJoy: A Toolkit for a Better Working Life by Beth Stallwood.  It’s just come out last week, it should be out in Canada as well come out in the UK, but I think it’s come out globally.


Clint Murphy  1:31:52

Okay. I will check this one out, I always like new books. What is something that you bought in the let’s say last year, for under $1,000? That you think to yourself now, wow, I really wish I bought that sooner?


Carla Miller  1:32:10

Oh, good question. So very exciting. It’s a tumble dryer. I’ve never had a tumble dryer before. And I’ve moved to the north of England where it’s very cold and wet. And I have a five year old child who gets all his clothes dirty all the time. And the tumble dryer has saved lots of time. It is expensive to run. But I’m like, do you know what? Life is short. I’m going to put it in a tumble dryer. So yeah, that’s what I bought.


Clint Murphy  1:32:32

So how do yours work relative to a tumble dryer then.


Carla Miller  1:32:35

So we generally have washing machines. And then some people have a mixture of washing machines and tumble dryers. And some people have separate ones. I got a separate one for the first time. And now my clothes dry in like 45 minutes. And it has saved me lots of time. But I’ve got friends in New York who don’t even have a washing machine. They take everything to the laundromat, which is crazy to me having a house without a washing machine.


Clint Murphy  1:32:57

Well, yeah, New York’s closer to Europe then in a lot of the built the older buildings. So a place like Vancouver, we do have some of those, but they’re very few where we you know, we call them like a four story walk up. And all the laundry is down in the basement or you have to go to a laundromat because none of the units have washing machines or dryers. But most people in Vancouver do have both the separate washer and tumble dryer. So but I remember we were just over in Amsterdam, and we noticed that they didn’t have them either. They had those, the one that kind of did both. But it doesn’t quite get as dry as a standalone tumble dryer. Oh, that’s a great answer. I love that. That’s our first time.


Carla Miller  1:33:41

So how unexciting my life is? Sorry, very boring answer.


Clint Murphy  1:33:45

I was on a different podcast and I got asked and something. You know, I think my wife wanted me to use her answer. So I used, she found these cheese wrappers that are like the waxed paper and they keep your cheese from molding and she’s so happy at finding those that I gave that as my answer. So the last one, because the show is the growth guide. What is one mindset shift, habit or behavior, a change you’ve made that says it had an oversized impact on your life.


Carla Miller  1:34:17

I made a decision recently, about a year ago that there was more to life than work and even though I knew that beforehand, I am very driven and I love my work. And my life has been about my work and my small child and not a lot outside of that. And just recognizing life is short, and I can do good, but also work less and so that’s my motto at the moment do good, but work less so I moved from near London to the north of England very near Scotland into a little village. The pace of life is very different. When I walk my son to schoo,l I see what we call fouls but big hills with snow on them today. And I took up gardening as well, which turns out I really liked was previously I thought it was the most boring thing ever. So for me, it’s  that mindset shift of yes, work is brilliant and I love my work. But actually, there’s more to life than work and that time outside of work replenishes me for work and helps me avoid the burnout that I’m still naturally susceptible to, I still do want to go into fifth gear quite a lot of the time. So it enables me to slow down a bit.


Clint Murphy  1:35:27

I hear you on that one. That is a wonderful, wonderful answer. The we’ve gone deep, we’ve gone pretty wide in the conversation, is there anything that we didn’t cover that you want to leave the listeners with?


Carla Miller  1:35:41

I think we did cover it a bit. But I think just recognizing that gender bias in the workplace is alive and well that women experience more self doubt, than men because we’re experiencing that gender bias and that men are essential for creating that change. And so if a few people listen to this, and go, oh, I’m gonna go and read one of those books or work out how I can be a better ally. And then I will feel like this has been successful from my perspective.


Clint Murphy  1:36:07

Love it. And where can our listeners find you, Carla?


Carla Miller  1:36:12

So you can head over to the social media, I’m most active on is LinkedIn, I spend a lot of the time on LinkedIn. So you can find me there, feel free to connect or follow there. My website is And that’s where you’ll find out about my open programs and courses. And obviously the book can be found on Amazon or any good bookshop. Oh, and I have my own podcast Influence and Impact for Female Leaders. And actually, it’s not just for leaders, it’s for women in the workplace. And we talk about all sorts of issues that impact women in the workplace. So you’re obviously a podcast listener, if you’re listening to this, go and give Influence and Impact a little bit of a listen.


Clint Murphy  1:36:50

Excellent. So we will have all of that in the show notes and all of the ways to connect with you. Thank you very much for being with me on the growth guide today. Really appreciate it.


Carla Miller  1:36:59

Thank you so much. I really enjoyed my chat


Clint Murphy  1:37:08

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