Shoana Prasad, executive coach and founder of Glenwood Consulting Group Inc., brings over 15 years of executive development training to her client portfolio. She offers communications training, coaching and executive branding work. Her clients include financial institutions, consumer products, pharmaceutical and healthcare, as well as media and technology. Outside the corporate space, Shoana is a regular speaker at York University’s Schulich School of Business in Toronto and the McGill Business School in Montreal. In addition, Shoana leads programs in personal branding for Women of Influence Inc. and has prepared speakers for Toronto’s first-ever Women’s TEDx.
What were the milestones or “firsts” in your development as a leader?
Well, I would say I am still developing, and that will continue but…..
That said, being a “self expert” was number one. I know myself very well. This allows me to make clear, fast and efficient decisions, which is important in my work with people who are generally very busy. Any and all of my decisions are made through a series of filters including, “Is this my expertise?;” Will the client and audience be better off having worked with me?” “Does it strengthen my brand?” So knowing myself was one of the first real milestones.
Knowing my niche skill has also been key. Once you identify that one thing you can do better than anyone else, you can start to build your brand around that unique ability.
Finally, know when to stop and listen. I think when we’re younger we have the insatiable hunger to provide evidence of everything we know. There is such strength, comfort and wisdom in silence.
What are the unique characteristics of female leaders?
I think the unique characteristics of a great leader is to lead from where you’re at. Whether you are considered a leader from your internal HR’s perspective or not, I think being pronounced a leader doesn’t necessarily make you one. There are leaders at all levels. Those that listen, ask insightful questions, play “devil’s advocate” and offer counsel when necessary. I very much admire those leaders who can be strong yet humble; smart but approachable.
Other more tangible skills include, business acumen, impeccable communications skills, ability to make tough decisions, managing constant and incessant change, investing in human capital in time (mentorship) and money (personal development funds.)
How do you develop your leadership skills? How do you assess yourself?
I develop my own skills everyday in the boardroom and at the podium. I am client-facing everyday with people who have big jobs and big pressures. I am very sensitive to the stress our leaders feel to perform, grow, anticipate and implement change, and build and retain people.
I listen; I ask open-ended questions with sincere curiosity.
I assess myself in what others say about me. Open, honest feedback is a bitter pill, but a necessary one. If you don’t know how you’re coming across with others, you’re missing key opportunities to develop those necessary leadership skills.
So in general, if colleagues and clients are happy, I’m happy.
What is the impostor syndrome and how do you overcome it?
The imposter syndrome is that moment we have all felt when we think someone is going to “find out I know nothing!”
I overcome it by embracing it. Trends, patterns, personalities and consumer needs are forever evolving. If you consider yourself on the cusp of growth and innovation, there will most certainly be a moment of “I have no idea what I’m doing.” Embrace it and ask questions to lead you to what you do know. Question your thoughts. I think the imposter syndrome is a rite of passage for humble yet confident leaders.
It’s a dangerous place to be when you think you know everything.
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Why is personal branding important today and how do you develop a compelling personal brand?
The market place is noisy. Everyone, product, service is sticking its hand up saying “look at me, look at me!” It’s hard to cut through that.
A compelling personal brand is a win-win all around. For the individual, it’s a clear path of discovery of what you’re true value proposition is. Again, what do you do the best over anyone else? It’s helps any executive at any level navigate their career based on, what they love to do, are good at, and thus can offer the best value or serve.
For a company, having employees who have invested time into their personal brand are generally people who have clarity on what makes them happy and what drives them. That means, happy, focused people. More and more, companies are built based on culture and values. Employees are not only employees; they are brand ambassadors for the company.
This also means that the right people are in the right jobs. If your employees know themselves; are “self-experts” then you have a team that is driven by what is important to them individually.
The process of developing your brand is an evolution. There are so many resources that can step you through how to start thinking about how to build your brand, but the first place is just to assess where you’re at now. What is your current brand? In other words, “What do people say about you – good and bad – after you’ve left the room?” This is essentially your current brand.
The second step is ask “What do you want people to say?”
The gap in-between is where the work is.