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High Performing Women

MaryTylerMooreJPGWith the passing of Mary Tyler Moore, we can’t help but think of the ground breaking topics covered by her long running TV show of the same name. From its first airing in 1970, the Mary Tyler Moore show utilized humor and humanity to break down the walls women-in-business faced. Forty-seven years later, although many strides have been made, the percentage of women in the U.S. workforce is 46.3%.  The percentage of leading women drops dramatically:  only 6.7% of the Fortune 500 are women leaders, and just 2.4% are female CEO’s. Women make up 14.8% of Fortune 500 Board seats.   So there is definitely room for progress.

This doesn’t come easy.  Women face unique challenges their male counterparts don’t:  Having to balance two lives of work and mothering, overcoming gender bias and discrimination, being confident, assertive and a leader without being called the “B” word, being stereotyped in male dominated industries, and finding inspiration and support from peers.

SAGIN strongly supports equality, which is part of our core values.  We recognize women face unique challenges in order to be successful in business. Therefore, our very own Alice Rutkowski – through her education, research and experience working with high stakes women leaders – brings this multi-part article series helping women succeed in business.


By Alice Rutkowski, PhD, VP of Executive Performance, Sagin, LLC ©2017

You know her. By her walk, her voice, her ‘wordcraft’, you know her. She moves with ease and doesn’t hold back a smile nor an assertion. This high-performing woman is self-aware, curious about others, and leads with openness, authenticity and command. She could be you. In Part One of HIGH PERFORMING WOMEN, I will name and illustrate two keys of cognitive-behavioral change that can unlock your emotional and intellectual confidence.

  1. Look in the mirror – a ‘mirror’ reflects accuracy, not perception!

I once coached a woman in her twenties. She was the first female hired by a historically known male company. They were working on a new product line and felt a woman’s voice was needed. She stood in front of my communication class to give her first videotaped talk, her stiletto-clad feet crossed at the ankles. She looked very young, spoke quietly and apologetically and used the words “like” and “so” repeatedly.  When she finished and saw herself on the videotape, she had a shocking revelation.

Looking at the videotape as a more accurate “mirror” she learned that the posture she holds tells a story all its own. Crossed ankles provided no real physical balance, but instead reflected insecurity, resulting in childlike communication. By helping her find her physical balance and working with vocal tone, I saw her telling a more credible story. She reported that it felt more like her true self, mature and knowledgeable. To the class, she began to look and sound like she knew what she was talking about.

 How You Stand Matters. Posture Matters.

  1. Get on the scale – not to see how much you weigh, but to see where your weight lies.

I worked with a woman from Peru who held her weight in her shoulders. Perhaps her self-described upbringing in poverty had literally weighed her down. Yet she achieved great things in her adult life, even graduating Harvard and Wharton School of Business. When she gave a talk in class, her posture betrayed her success. I gently coaxed her to raise her head and lift her chest from her sternum. “How does this feel?” I asked. With a tear in her eye, she replied, “Now that feels like me.” She looked proud.

 Where do you carry your weight? What mood does it reflect?

The high-performing woman is self-aware, curious about others, and leads with openness, authenticity and command. Although we may think our habits in communication are our truest expression, habits are not skills. Begin learning the difference you will unlock the authentic power of your communication. The High Performing Woman could be you.

To Read High Performing Women Part 2: High Performing Women Part 2

Alice Rutkowski is SAGIN’s VP of Executive Performance and Development and has worked with a number of leading companies and executives.  If you would like to learn more about developing your skills, you can contact Alice at: or +1.570.903.1936.   You can also see some of Alice’s work and her video at:

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