First Impressions, Handshakes Are Key To Women In Leadership

By Paula Burkes
The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) This article has some practical advice for women in business. For example, something as simple as a handshake can make a difference in how you are perceived. One body language expert says that when someone approaches, you should raise your eyebrows to show an openness, which causes approachers to be open. Then you should scoop in, with your hand tilted down, so you get a palm-to-palm firm grip, versus someone grabbing the end of your fingers in a wimpy handshake.

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

Attention businesswomen: Want to be more successful in the workplace? Don’t worry so much, and master the perfect handshake.

Such was the advice of presenters at a women’s leadership conference on Wednesday that drew 310 attendees to the Cox Convention Center. Oklahoma City University’s Meinders School of Business hosted the seventh annual event, which was presented by the Chickasaw Nation.

Nancy Parsons, CEO of Tulsa-founded and now Texas-based CDR Assessment Group, said studies show men and women are basically equal in leadership energy, calmness and emotions.

“But under pressure, men dominate and women tend to move away and not speak up,” she said.

Her company offers coaching tools that, along with leadership characteristics, measure inherent negative risk factors, including rule breaking, egotism and upstaging, which all are more common to men but — perception-wise — more detrimental to women, Parsons said.

For example, a male rule breaker is seen as a change agent, while a female rule breaker is viewed as inconsistent, she said.

Meanwhile, an egotistical male is perceived as overconfident, while an egotistical female frequently is called the b word.

“We’re taking ourselves out of the running for fear of failure,” Parsons said. “We women often work harder, putting in 80 hours, but we’re not being noticed because we’re not speaking up,” she said, noting worrying is seen as a lack of courage, and companies want leaders with courage.

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