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Proven techniques, strategies, and tools to develop women leaders, build male allies, and promote gender equality.

Sep 11, 2018

In this episode, we feature two very different leaders.  That is, based on gender, race, industry, and geography.  Yet, their perspectives are eerily similar on diversity.

Danielle Vetter is a Diversity & Inclusion leader at a Midwest technology and engineering company.  Peter Khoury was raised in the Middle East and now lives on the West Coast practicing  presence and public speaking training and coaching.  From their diverse vantage points, they both see gender differences in communication and leadership, offering strategies to close the gender gaps.

As Peter shares, he teaches men and women the same key attributes of effective communication:  assertiveness, clarity, and being direct.  Yet, he often finds women are more hesitant to take action on the coaching.  They share that when they have been assertive or direct in the past, they are labelled as bossy or aggressive.  Realizing that women are far more likely to get feedback on their personality vs. situations, they find themselves on this gender tightrope between being bossy vs. being weak.  Conversely, when men exhibit this behavior too much, they may be called a bully.  These biases do not benefit either gender.

To improve your own presence, he suggests we make two lists: 

  • Who do I want to be like?
  • What do I like about them?


Then, open up your network and look beyond the people like you, look for allies, and focus on the attributes of these people that you want to be more like. 

That is something that Danielle is really good at.  She shares through her candid conversation when a man takes a woman’s ideas or talks over a woman in a meeting; it can have really negative consequences.  Often, women choose not to speak up as a result.  Instead, at Cummins, she is leading efforts to see conflict as constructive, focused on issues rather than the person, and necessary to engage all talent.  In fact, their C-Suite is 35% women.  They have achieved this intentionally through long-term diversity planning where each executive is responsible for their own 5-year diversity plan.  They do frequent career mapping exercises for every employee so that those otherwise underrepresented can see themselves growing into future roles.

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