Mastering Career Advancement

Episode 242 - The Role of Business Intelligence (BQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Social Intelligence (SQ) in Career Advancement

Guest: Michelle Redfern

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In this week’s podcast episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Redfern, a seasoned corporate leader and author, who shared her expertise on career advancement for women. Michelle discusses the importance of Business Intelligence (BQ), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), and Social Intelligence (SQ) in propelling your career forward. We discussed how women can enhance their BQ to stand out, the role of strategic mentorship, and the significance of intentional networking.

Michelle also addresses the systemic barriers and gender biases that hinder women’s progress in the corporate world. She offers actionable strategies for overcoming these challenges, advocating for change, and aiming high in your career aspirations. This episode is packed with practical advice and inspiring stories that you won’t want to miss.

This episode is not just for women; it’s for everyone who works with and manages women. It’s so important to be aware of the issues women face in the workforce. Plus, the tips and advice Michelle offers are suitable for everybody! You will miss important advice and limit your career advancement if you skip this episode!

What is Business Intelligence (BQ), and why is it important for career advancement? 

Business Intelligence (BQ) refers to the ability to understand and utilize business, strategic, and financial acumen to drive results and make informed decisions. It is crucial for career advancement as it demonstrates your capability to contribute significantly to the organization’s success, making you a strong candidate for senior roles.

Professionals can enhance their BQ by seeking educational opportunities such as courses in business and finance, reading industry-related books, and gaining practical experience through projects that require strategic thinking. Mentorship from experienced professionals who excel in business intelligence is also beneficial.

What role does Emotional Intelligence (EQ) play in leadership? 

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) involves self-awareness, empathy, and relationship management. In leadership, high EQ helps in understanding and managing your own emotions as well as those of your team. It enables better communication, conflict resolution, and inspiring and motivating others.

What is Social Intelligence (SQ), and how does it impact career growth? 

Social Intelligence (SQ) is the ability to understand and manage social interactions effectively. It combines BQ and EQ to create a solid professional brand. High SQ helps in networking, building trust, and creating strategic relationships, which are essential for career growth and leadership positions.

How can women overcome systemic barriers and gender biases in the workplace? 

Overcoming systemic barriers and gender biases requires both individual and organizational efforts. Women can advocate for themselves by developing their BQ, seeking strategic mentorship, and building strong professional networks. Organizations should implement structured mentoring programs, promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and create an environment that supports women’s career advancement.

One of the most talked-about systemic biases in the workplace is the gender pay gap. So, what strategies can women use for effective salary negotiation? Women should research industry standards to understand their market value, prepare a clear case demonstrating their achievements and contributions, and practice negotiation scenarios. Confidence is key, and it’s important to stand firm on their worth and advocate for the compensation they deserve.

Another barrier is the approach taken by employers and mentors of women. They focus their guidance and training on soft skills, and that keeps women back when applying for executive roles. This is why strategic mentorship is so crucial for career advancement. Strategic mentorship helps close skill gaps and guides navigating career challenges. Mentors who focus on business intelligence can offer valuable insights and advice that align with career goals, helping mentees to advance more effectively.

Finally, women who take time to build and maintain a strong professional network perform better at career advancement. Women can build a strong professional network by participating in industry events, joining professional organizations, and engaging with peers and leaders on platforms like LinkedIn. Anecdotally, women tend to sign up for these opportunities less than their male counterparts. However, maintaining these relationships through regular communication and offering mutual support is essential for long-term networking success and worth investing time and money into.

Please take the time to listen to the episode with Michelle. Her insights provide a valuable roadmap for professionals, especially women, seeking to advance their careers in the corporate world. By enhancing business intelligence, demonstrating their value, and engaging in strategic networking and mentorship, professionals can overcome the barriers keeping them from achieving their career goals. Career advancement is not just about skills and qualifications; it’s also about building a solid professional brand, advocating for yourself, and continuously striving for growth and excellence. 

Michelle Redfern, the author of The Leadership Compass: The ultimate guide for women leaders to reach their full Potential.

About Our Guest, Michelle Redfern

Michelle has recently launched her podcast with her business partner Mel Butcher, The Lead to Soar Podcast, and they are killing it. Sticking to their strength in supporting women in leadership, they have lined up a great guest list, so I recommend that you check it out, follow, subscribe, and leave them your support in the form of a 5-star ranking and a great review, because nothing makes a podcast host happier and receiving Feedback believe me. This interview in its entirety is on Michelle’s podcast. Of course, I have edited her intro out with her blessing and repurposed it for you to listen to. There are great episodes in her show you should listen to, like the Agile Leader and Giving and Receiving Feedback which I think are topics you wouldn’t find here on The Job Hunting Podcast. Still, they are such great complimentary conversations to what we discuss in this show, yes? Let’s enjoy this episode.
Renata Bernarde

About the Host, Renata Bernarde

Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.


If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.


In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients

What is Business Intelligence (BQ) and why is it important for career advancement?

Business Intelligence (BQ) refers to the ability to understand and utilize business, strategic, and financial acumen to drive results and make informed decisions. It is crucial for career advancement as it demonstrates your capability to contribute significantly to the organization’s success, making you a strong candidate for senior roles.

How can women enhance their Business Intelligence (BQ)?

Women can enhance their BQ by seeking out educational opportunities such as courses in business and finance, reading industry-related books, and gaining practical experience through projects that require strategic thinking. Mentorship from experienced professionals who excel in business intelligence is also beneficial.

What role does Emotional Intelligence (EQ) play in leadership?

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) involves self-awareness, empathy, and relationship management. In leadership, high EQ helps in understanding and managing your own emotions as well as those of your team. It enables better communication, conflict resolution, and the ability to inspire and motivate others.

What is Social Intelligence (SQ) and how does it impact career growth?

Social Intelligence (SQ) is the ability to understand and manage social interactions effectively. It combines BQ and EQ to create a strong professional brand. High SQ helps in networking, building trust, and creating strategic relationships, which are essential for career growth and leadership positions.

How can women overcome systemic barriers and gender biases in the workplace?

Overcoming systemic barriers and gender biases requires both individual and organizational efforts. Women can advocate for themselves by developing their BQ, seeking strategic mentorship, and building strong professional networks. Organizations should implement structured mentoring programs, promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and create an environment that supports women’s career advancement.

What strategies can women use for effective salary negotiation?

Women should research industry standards to understand their market value, prepare a clear case demonstrating their achievements and contributions, and practice negotiation scenarios. Confidence is key, and it’s important to stand firm on the worth and advocate for the compensation deserved.

Why is strategic mentorship important for career advancement?

Strategic mentorship helps in closing skill gaps and provides guidance on navigating career challenges. Mentors who focus on business intelligence can offer valuable insights and advice that align with career goals, helping mentees to advance more effectively.

How can women build and maintain a strong professional network?

Women can build a strong professional network by actively participating in industry events, joining professional organizations, and engaging with peers and leaders on platforms like LinkedIn. Maintaining these relationships through regular communication and offering mutual support is essential for long-term networking success.

Timestamps to Guide Your Listening

  • 01:16 The Journey of Writing a Book
  • 01:41 Crafting a Message for Women and Organizations
  • 02:25 The Importance of Business Acumen
  • 04:47 The Role of Mentorship and Strategic Guidance
  • 13:59 Addressing Systemic Gender Stereotypes
  • 17:36 The Missing Link: Business Quotient (BQ)
  • 20:44 Strategic Mentoring and Professional Development
  • 24:23 Understanding BQ, EQ, and SQ
  • 27:17 Reputation and Career Advancement
  • 28:20 Reinventing Yourself: The Importance of Upgrades
  • 28:46 Understanding Your Reputation as a BQ Leader
  • 29:32 Demonstrating Your Skills Effectively
  • 30:37 The Role of EQ in Career Advancement
  • 31:49 Avoiding Fluff in Job Applications
  • 33:51 Crafting a Strong Pitch for Recruiters
  • 35:00 The Importance of Business Acumen
  • 39:37 Navigating the Recruitment System
  • 44:26 Empowering Women in Salary Negotiations
  • 46:43 Building Confidence and Competence
  • 51:15 The Lead to Soar Network
  • 53:00 Final Thoughts and Gratitude

Renata Bernarde: Big changes happening to you this year. Starting with, the book. Tell me about the process of writing a book like this.

Michelle: Well, the process was interesting. I think I’ve said it a number of times before that I wasn’t going to write a book, particularly. But then my publisher was very persistent, and she kept coming at me saying, “You need to write a book.” And then for strategic reasons, I thought, “All right, then, I’m going to do it.” So I had to figure out what I wanted to say, Renata. And the reality is I’ve got a lot to say, as you know, about a lot of things. But I wanted to be impactful for women, and I also wanted to be impactful for the environments that women work in. Part of writing the book was really identifying who I speak to here.

Michelle: So I speak to women at all career stages, and I talk to the bosses and the organizations of women. So that was number one: working out who my audience is and what I thought they needed to hear. And then it was a bit of going back and thinking, “Well, what do I have to share?” Do I want to share a lot of theory?

Michelle: And I thought, no, I actually want to share what women and organizations often ask me about, which is about me. “You’re successful; how did you do it?” And I thought that’s pretty much what I want to talk about—this outline, this formula that, as it turns out, I’ve always had in my career, but I wouldn’t have been able to put those words around it.

Michelle: Outline this formula for leadership and career success. But weave it into storytelling, weave it into my own story, including the “Oh, this is when I didn’t get it very right,” and “This is what I learned about it.” So it’s a story about my career. But it’s pulling it together to say, “Here’s how you can take action if that’s what you want to do.” So yeah, that was the start of the process. And then, of course, it’s just knuckling down and pulling out the stories and the research and, you know, the stuff that goes with writing. You know, if you’re an authority in your field, as you are in yours, Renata, you have lots of data, you’ve got lots of research, and you’ve got to bring that all together in a way that people can consume it and then take action on it.

Michelle: So, you know, I’ve got more stories, data, research, and previous writings than I’ve had hot dinners, and I needed to assemble it in a way that could be consumed.

Michelle: So, yeah, that took about six months.

Renata: Did it? Okay.

Michelle: In saying that, I had a lot of stuff already done because I’ve been researching since the minute I started my business; I’ve been gathering data.

Michelle: So, you know, if someone was deciding, “I’m going to start from scratch right now,” I would suggest you know, I would easily, if you were to do full-time research, I would have easily six months of full-time research in it. But I was lucky I already had that and was bringing it together.

Michelle: So in effect, I think writing a book is probably a 12-month process, but gee whiz, I think it depends as well.

Renata: Yeah. I think it shows that you have had a lot of time to think about it because the book is concise; it’s not verbose and it’s not overly written. It’s just enough information to satisfy people’s interest in your story and get all the pearls of wisdom and all the layers. And I really like the book.

Renata: I found that it’s a great instrument, you know. And I hate to give you extra work. But if I were you, I would follow up with a workbook. Because your questions are so good throughout

Michelle: But there is, there are, I’ve got that already.

Renata: Oh, you do? Oh, great.

Michelle: All the “go deep,” there is a whole website full of workbooks.

Renata: Oh, that’s the QR codes

Renata: throughout.

Michelle: The QR code. And that library is continuing to evolve. Even today I’m writing another workbook to go with one of the activities or one of the chapters. So great advice and yes, it’s there.

Michelle: So when people scan that code, they get access to a hidden website because it’s thank you for buying the book, and here’s all the other stuff. And I call them my go-deeper guides. Go deeper, go deeper.

Renata: Got it. Because I really did like, throughout the book, you have great questions. And the questions are not just thrown around; they are specific questions for the topics you’re talking about and they’re well-considered. Like I said, I think it shows that you didn’t have to over-explain anything, that you have a lot of knowledge and experience.

Renata: Yeah, I really like this book. Thank you so much for writing.

Michelle: For that. I think that’s, you know, coming from you, it’s really good to hear that it’s concise because sometimes brevity isn’t my friend. You know, why use five words when 500 would do? But I wanted it to be a pickup and, you know, like pick up the book, go to the chapter I need for this point in time, put it down again, or read it on a plane to my holiday in Bali, or have it, you know, in my back pocket for when my annual performance appraisal is coming around, or, you know, and have it as that pick down. Easier to read, easier to reference, easier to pick down and pick up and put down again when you need it.

Michelle: So thank you.

Renata: The other thing that I think you have time to reflect and work around is—and frankly, this is probably me sort of talking about my own issues with women in the corporate world—is I have a lot of frustrations. I don’t think that if I were to write a book or even sometimes I have trouble even doing a podcast about it, you know, because there’s so much that hasn’t been done and hasn’t been achieved.

Renata: And it frustrates me. And I know you know this about me because I have messaged you about this from time to time. But that’s not in your book. You know, your book is not about complaining or, you know what I mean? I’m sort of brainstorming here, but I think you

Michelle: I do. I do. And it reminds me, so I had wonderful Holly Bailey, who’s the founder of Play Like a Girl, at my book launch here in Melbourne, and she asked a question. She said, “What motivates you to write, Michelle?” I said, “Oh, anger, outrage.”

Renata: The anger is not in the book. The anger is

Michelle: It’s, no. But it’s there.

Michelle: I mean, my sense of injustice is probably a better way than saying anger. My sense of injustice. However, what I’ve learned over the years is you can shake your fist at the sky. It doesn’t change anything. What I can do is say to people, here’s what good looks like. Here’s what great looks like.

Michelle: Here’s what we can do together. So it’s the rather than tell, it’s the show and particularly in the diversity, equity and inclusion work I do, the system work. So, so important to show people how to, because you know, we can read theories. It’s like, all of us have got access to a lot of information, right?

Michelle: And honestly, we could all be rocket scientists, really, if we wanted to be. But we’re not, because it’s not motivating for some of us, and it’s hard to access and hard to put into action. So we need actionable insights. And part of that is by saying, I could complain about what’s wrong, or I can show people what good looks like and how to get there.

Renata: Yeah, one of the things I wanted to ask you as a follow-up from reading your book, you know, even though you’ve written so much about it and I read it, doing the work that you do in the corporate sphere at the more strategic level, what is it that you have learned about advancing women’s careers that you think you can share here with us today?

Renata: What has been an eye-opener for you? You started this fresh with energy and enthusiasm. I’m assuming you hit some roadblocks along the way and then found a way around it. And that’s what I wanted to hear from you.

Michelle: Okay, what have I discovered? Shivers. What I’ve discovered is that I want to always be—I set a goal really early on, you know, those things that you write out, you know, who do I want to be as I was starting my business? And one of the sentences I wrote is I want to be a trusted advisor.

Michelle: To the most powerful people in Australia.

Michelle: Make that the world now.

Michelle: Not all of them, but the ones who want. And I thought, what does being a trusted advisor mean? How does that play out? How do I show up? And part of that, because

I really anchor in that, is I’ve got to be really, really thoughtful and mindful and inclusive and compassionate and kind to very, very senior people who are extraordinarily accomplished in what they do, but they’re not in what I do.

Michelle: They are not. They are extraordinarily accomplished and informed and strategic and what have you, but they are not close enough to the problem of why women aren’t getting ahead.

Renata: Everyone.

Michelle: Be, you know, annoying to them. Sometimes I have to be, but it’s about saying, “How can I be that trusted advisor to those people who have to learn some new information and some new skills?”

Michelle: So that is a really big learning that I continue to make. I try and hold myself accountable to Renata. So that’s one thing I learned. To be a trusted advisor means they have to feel safe with me. They know I’m going to keep them accountable, but they have to feel safe with me. They have to feel safe that I know what I’m talking about.

Michelle: So my expertise has to keep getting honed. They have to feel safe that I’ve got the tools to get the job done. And they have to feel safe with me that I’m not going to belittle them and make them feel ridiculous for not knowing something that, quite frankly, is not known enough on a wholesale basis. And it’s, you know, the story of how I met Susan and how all this started.

Michelle: It is the story of what women are still not being told about what it takes to get to the top of organizations, about how gendered expectations really shape the way men and women—and I’m using very binary gender language here, Renata, because I don’t have enough expertise and data yet to talk about non-binary people—but in terms of binary gender, we still, from the outset of our careers, see two very different sets of experiences for a man versus a woman in the way they are coached, mentored formally and informally, trained formally and informally, networks, etc.

Michelle: So that still is something that, well, I learned it and I apply it now, but it’s the biggest, the biggest thing. And it’s interesting because today, as we’re recording, I’ve just finished a very big program of work for a group of women leaders at one of my clients. And you know, I’m thinking, okay, and I do a lot of research on each client.

Michelle: And I thought, “Oh, maybe this will be the group where I won’t see it. I won’t see the lack of BQ, what I call BQ, this missing link. Maybe I won’t see it here.” Well, bingo, I saw it again. I saw it in the way women, the career advice they get, the feedback they receive from managers, the directions their careers are set off in.

Michelle: I saw a complete gap. Another, I saw the link again. So what am I trying to say here? The big thing is there’s a missing link. The second thing is that I want to be that trusted advisor to help more powerful people understand the missing link and then show them and help them close that link or fix that link.

Michelle: So that’s, if I were to sum up my last 10 years, that’s it.

Renata: That’s a lot, isn’t it? And when you talk about that BQ, which is the business qualifying, isn’t it? So the

Michelle: Yeah. Business intelligence. Yeah. The business

Renata: Business, the business quote. What do you think is happening there? Is this coming from the individual not seeking out the knowledge or the environment not making it available to them, not making that business, the knowledge, the acumen available to them because they’re women?

Renata: Mm

Michelle: Well, it’s all of the above, but where it starts is, you know, if we could come right back to rigid gender stereotypes and the way that society has told us where women and men will play a role. So what is the role that men play and what is the role that women play in society? And there’s lots of research around it, and one quote that I always pull out of Catalyst, who do a lot of research out of the US, is the gender stereotype.

Michelle: The rigid gender stereotype is that men take charge, women take care. And so when we have notions like that in our minds, and all of us have notions and mindsets about stuff, but if we’ve come through to life and bring it forward to the workplace, say, okay, so men take charge, women take care, how does that manifest?

Michelle: Not always maliciously, but it’s benevolent bias.

Michelle: We say, “Oh, Renata, here’s some career advice. You’re so great with people. You should go into HR.”

Renata: Mm-hmm. Mm

Michelle: And then there’s Bill, your colleague, Bill. Great family man, ambitious. “Mate, what we need to do to make sure that you have a great career is let’s get you into sales and customer-facing and managing a P&L.” Because men take charge, women take care. Now, I’m using really blunt examples here, but it starts from, well, it actually starts from childhood, and certainly starts when young people are getting career guidance.

Michelle: In high school. So, you know, sometimes I say to my clients, don’t wait to go to the university grads.

Michelle: If you want to change the system, start going to primary schools and early high school to talk about career choices. So this is how it manifests. Then what happens is, as women, we hear these messages and they’re reinforced and reinforced. Now, how are they reinforced? Oh, Renata, here’s a book about women’s leadership.

Michelle: And it’s all about how to be authentic and confident and show up as your best self and have high EQ skills

Michelle: because you are a caring, compassionate leader. Awesome. Not wrong, but it’s incomplete because there’s nothing in there about Renata. This is the way to run a business. When you run a business, when you think like a CEO and act like one, you know about customers.

Michelle: You know about growth, you know about cost management, yada, yada, yada. And so, Renata’s career ticks along and ticks along and suddenly she says, “How come I’m not being considered for the big playing roles, the senior roles?” “Oh, Renata, you haven’t really, you’ve been in HR, and I don’t mean to pick on HR, but we know where—”

Renata: I understand. That’s where they

Michelle: Absolutely. So. And then suddenly, “Well, you haven’t had any experience running operations, or a P&L, or you’ve never done sales.” But no one told me I had to have that. Oh, so this is why it’s important. And so, why does it happen? At the very heart of it, it’s about rigid gender stereotypes. And the way to fix it is a three-level process.

Michelle: Is it the fault of women? No. However, I’m going to add a disclaimer to that. Once you know this, you can then make an informed decision about what you do about it. So women who talk to me

Renata: Yeah.

Michelle: And others about this stuff, become informed about the importance of these skills, then have a choice.

Renata: Mm-hmm. Yeah. I see that I’m very torn and challenged by what you’re saying. And working with women and men in my practice, because having seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of resumes and job applications, if I remove the names and any gender-identifiable information from the resumes, I can tell you 100% I know if a woman has written that resume or a man has written

Renata: that resume.

Michelle: You can,

Renata: Okay.

Michelle: bet you can.

Renata: And it has all to do with the BQ, with the information that is presented, the business acumen, the metrics, the identification of scale and scope of your experience, your achievements, you know, the story arc of the achievements. And I don’t know where this started happening.

Renata: I can’t point out exactly where in the story of womanhood we decided we don’t pay attention to metrics and we don’t present them. And

Michelle: We haven’t been told, Renata,

Michelle: We

Michelle: haven’t overtly been told enough. And don’t forget society, you know. I always say to people, I’ve been marinating in gendered expectations since the moment I was born. So I am not immune to it either. And there are things, you know, and I think about, you know, in the way I’ve parented, in the way I’ve done relationships at work and in social, there are expectations about the way we should behave.

Michelle: And, you know, those expectations are across gender, across culture, across age. So we are, and particularly, you know, 21st century, my goodness, we’ve got so much information coming at us all the time. Our brain creates shortcuts. So we pay attention to what we think is important. And if I’m hearing the same message over and over and over and over and over again, since I’ve been born or since I’ve entered the workplace, “Michelle, take care,” “Michelle, take care,” “Michelle, take care,”

Michelle: That must be what I pay attention to. I’ve got to be a good person. I’ve got to be nice and compassionate and caring and kind and all that. Yes, you do. We also need you to run the business. So, where does it happen? We’ve been brainwashed. We’ve been brainwashed

Renata: Yeah.

Michelle: by systemic issues.

Renata: That’s a good lead-in to what I wanted to talk to you about what you were saying before about the advice, because sometimes

I get really conflicted when I’m helping a client, a woman, and she’s getting advice from me and she’s getting, as I asked them, to go have coffees with your mentors, with your former bosses, with your colleagues.

Renata: So that mentoring is not aligned with my advice, and it’s really lacking in that BQ again, in that business quotient again. So it really confuses the woman even further because here I am telling her to go network and have mentors and people supporting her career, but they are not supporting her in the way that you and I know will work to advance that career.

Renata: She may get another job, but really flatlining her career instead of advancing. So I see that happening a lot. How are you working with organizations to improve the mentoring and the professional development of their women when they’re employed? Because I think that’s where you step in, isn’t it?

Renata: When they’re employed, whereas I’m working with people that are usually unemployed.

Michelle: Yeah, yeah, and thank you for bringing up this really important point around mentoring. And you know, I am very vocal about the fact that women are over-mentored and under-promoted. And now this is not to dis mentoring. Mentoring is extremely important. The right mentoring, strategic mentoring. And again, not everyone is a great mentor. And the advice that I give

Michelle: To women is I want you to be really strategic about selecting your mentors. I want you to understand what your goal is, what your skill gap is, whatever it may be, and find the mentor who’s going to help you close that gap. Now in a corporate environment in the perfect world, Renata. The mentoring program, the strategic mentoring program to close the leadership gender gap in an organization would look like this.

Michelle: There would be very careful selection of mentors, and those mentors would have to spend time with me being trained on how to be a strategic mentor to a woman. And those mentors are mentors of all genders. And what I talk to them about is, here are the things that you are going to be tempted to talk to her about.

Michelle: Because don’t forget, they’ve all heard these messages about what women want, need, etc. You are going to be tempted to talk about how she can be more this and more that and blah, blah, blah. But what I want you to talk to her about is the importance of learning how to be a great businesswoman, and that means you need to have business, strategic and financial acumen and a drive for success.

Michelle: So I want you not to be tempted to drift into the touchy-feely mentoring, and I want you to be very, very disciplined about sticking to the knitting around what she really needs. And, so those mentors would not be let loose on a mentee until they’ve had that time with me. And they understand about the missing link.

Michelle: They understand how gender dynamics come into play. We know that we teach men from the outset of their careers how to run the business. We teach women how to be great team players. So I want them first. Then, in parallel, I’m going to be working with the mentees to say, here’s what you need to know about BQ, EQ, SQ, about the formula.

Michelle: And what I want you to also understand is, if you are ambitious and you are driven and you want to advance your career, by the time you get to the top of middle management, so senior management roles, 60% of the criteria associated, the skills criteria associated with those roles, is about BQ. So now I want you to audit where you are at.

Michelle: When you start moving to the C-suite, that’s getting up there in the 80% range. What’s going to set you apart are your EQ and your SQ skills. But by crikey, BQ is a gate opener for career success. And it is most often the missing link. So I want those two cohorts separately to talk to them about this is what it’s all about.

Michelle: Then I want to bring them together and I want to curate a beautifully, artificially accelerated strategic mentoring that turns into a sponsorship program. That’s the perfect world. That’s the perfect scenario.

Renata: Yeah,

Michelle: It doesn’t always happen that way.

Renata: Well, that’s true. Just for those who are not familiar with the terminology, can you explain BQ, EQ, SQ very briefly so that we can—

Michelle: So BQ is business intelligence. That is the leader who gets results. She has business, strategic, and financial acumen. She’s able to look at the big picture, make good decisions around the business. She knows the story that the numbers are telling and she’s got a real drive.

Michelle: She’s got real ambition for herself, her team, and the organization. It’s what we call being for the business. So that’s her BQ and most often the missing link for women. The second part is EQ. This is the leader—and most people would be familiar with emotional intelligence. I just want to add a little cherry on top there by saying the high EQ leader.

Michelle: She leads herself, she leads others and organizations towards success. She deeply knows who she is, how she shows up as a leader, what she causes as a leader. She deeply understands the rooms she’s in and the people in them, and she’s able to get the right people in the right place at the right time, doing the right thing for the organization.

Michelle: She’s adaptive, she’s compassionate, she’s skilled at relationships, etc. And then SQ is social intelligence or social quotient, which I made up, but it’ll work. And that is all about bringing BQ and EQ together. And that’s about me saying, here’s my brand as a professional businesswoman. So I’ve got a very carefully, intentionally curated, authentic, hate the word, but real, very genuine brand.

Michelle: I’m very, very good at networking. So my strategic networking skills are up there. Again, it’s a number one skill for very senior managers, but people trust me. They want to do business with me because they know who I am. They absolutely respect my work and they trust that I’ll get the job done. They know I’m ethical.

Michelle: So that’s the BQ, EQ, SQ. We have to have all three. No one can be on its own. However, all three things are not equal. BQ takes up the lion’s share of senior and executive leadership roles’ skills. What sets you apart are your EQ skills. So, that’s the BQ, EQ, SQ.

Renata: Yes. And that’s really a great combination to think about your brand and your reputation, which is something that I’ve been talking a lot about on the podcast lately. So I

Michelle: Yeah,

Renata: episode

Michelle: Yeah. Absolutely. 100

Renata: And I mentioned your book as well. I have a feeling working with clients that are looking for work that when they reach out to me, usually they already see a problem with their reputation, right? And it could be that they have, they’re very likable. I’m talking about women here. So they’re very likable. They’re very trustworthy for the jobs that they are doing or they have done. But they, for the love of God, cannot understand why they’re not being advanced, right?

Renata: And that is a reputational issue, isn’t it? And it’s the BQ that’s missing out. So, how can women then start shifting that? You know, what would you suggest would be the first steps that they can do to help them turn this reputation around, because reputation is kind of crystallized and a little bit solid.

Renata: It’s hard to mold and reform. So you need to have patience. So I’m going to start there.

Michelle: 100% Renata. And we do need to reinvent ourselves from time to time. You know, it’s like, you know, we all go and buy, you know, we buy an iPhone and then it has upgrades and upgrades. You know, we get software upgrades. We’ve got to do our software upgrades all the time. Do we end up with a brand new phone?

Michelle: We might eventually, but we’re just evolving. So I think it’s a really nice way to look at it. You know, melting down, reshaping. It won’t happen immediately, but over time. Very first step is to understand the three ways that your reputation as a BQ leader might not be showing up. Number one, it might be in your skills.

Michelle: So which of the skills—and they’re skills, right? They can be learned like anything else. So which of the skills? Is it business acumen, financial acumen, strategic acumen? Is it my success drive, my ambition for the business? Is that not showing up? Which skills do I need to work on there? So do an audit. And it’s like, you know, it’s like when you do your LinkedIn audits.

Michelle: People go, “Oh my God, my LinkedIn’s a bit rubbish. What do I do?” Go to Renata. Get an audit done because then you know where you are and what

Michelle: The plan needs to be. It’s exactly the same. So do an audit. The second way is, I might have the skills, am I demonstrating them? Again, I think LinkedIn’s a great example and the work that you’re doing.

Michelle: Am I known for these skills? Am I known as a businesswoman who can move the organization forward? And have I really been intentional about nurturing that? What do I do about that if I’m not known? Well, number one, you’ve got to audit. Am I known for it? You’ve got to go out and ask for advice and ask for feedback, which is tough.

Michelle: “Renata, am I known for this?” “Well, not so much, Michelle

. Maybe not.” Okay, now I know. Now I’ve got to do something about that. What do we do about it? Start thinking about the language we use, the way we are writing, the way we show up on LinkedIn, the way we show up in job interviews. What am I talking about on my CV?

Michelle: Am I talking about a whole heap of fluffy stuff? Or am I talking about the way I move the business forward? So this is the demonstrating. And then the third way, of course, is this career advice that I talk about. The third way BQ doesn’t show up is, I need to start paying attention to what I need to pay attention to, which is, don’t forget about EQ. Just go, you know what, it’s time for EQ. It might be time for EQ to take a little back seat for the moment. Now I’m going to listen to podcasts about business. Now I’m going to do maybe a finance for non-finance managers short course. Now maybe I’m going to listen to an online course about strategic acumen and strategic leadership.

Michelle: I might read a couple more books on, etc. And when I talk to my mentor, I’m going to shape the conversation to say, “I know, Renata, you wanted to talk about my confidence this week. What I’d rather talk about is, can you give me your experience in the job-hunting landscape? What are the strategic initiatives you are seeing that are going to really impact people?”

Michelle: Blah, blah, blah. You get the drift. I’m going to really shape my conversation so I get from you, my mentor or my coach or my boss, the career advice that I need. So that’s the three ways. So understand those three ways and then do something about it.

Renata: Yeah.

Michelle: That’s what she has to do.

Renata: Yeah. That’s great. You got me at fluffy stuff because I see so much fluff, you know, when people are—I wouldn’t say desperate—but anxious. Anxious for work, anxious for job opportunities. And that anxiety leads to over-explaining and then a bit of fluff, which is so counterintuitive because you want to explain what’s going on, but then you over-explain, you add too much fluff, and then you dilute the essence of what the recruiter is actually looking at and looking for in your resume. It makes it harder for you to explain. For them to find. Maybe because my niche is more experienced professionals, men and women, I find that they have the BQ.

Renata: They just haven’t thought of it. They just haven’t really positioned it or been strategic about showcasing it. They start with the fluffy stuff at the top. Top of the headline on LinkedIn, you know, the first thing they say about themselves is fluff, and they forget that the fluff is not going to get them the job.

Renata: The fluff is a good filler for, you know, some casual chats or the end of a, you know, a pitch, but you need to start with the reason why you’re there in front of them. And that usually has to do with the BQ, not the SQ or the EQ. Am I right?

Michelle: Yeah, totally. And I look at it in terms of make it easy for people to buy from you. Whether you’ve got a business or you want a job, we want people to do business with us. We want to be hired. So that means they need to know you, respect you, trust you. It also means that you have to make it really easy for them to make that decision.

Michelle: And this is the work that you know better than I do, Renata, that job hunters have to do. Know who it is that you’re pitching to. What are their problems? And how are you going to solve them? What value are they looking for and how are you going to create that value? And what are the measurable outcomes they want delivered and how are you going to deliver them? So, and what I’m talking a little bit about here is yes, track record. So talk about your track record, the problems you’ve solved, the value you’ve created, the outcomes you’ve delivered. And I think, you know, you talk about your process in a similar kind of way. And then, but also talk about your potential.

Michelle: Potential to do that. And particularly with, whether it’s with the recruiter or with the hiring manager that yourself, be really clear. If I’m going to go for a job with Qantas

Renata: Mm. Mm.

Michelle: The chief customer officer, my goodness, I’m going to do a lot of research about what their problems and their opportunities are right now.

Michelle: And I’m going to talk about how I’m going to solve that. And I’m going to talk about the outcomes that that’s going to create for people, customers, and shareholders. And that’s the stuff. You made an interesting point about senior people kind of forgetting about it and they do the fluff. I had a really interesting situation where, and our friend Susan has had similar ones in her past as well, where I was interviewing in an in-house program, some C-suite executives, and one of the women from the audience, I said, “Oh, what are the things, the skills that you think have made you successful? That got you to where you are?” Both of these executives talked about everything but BQ. Okay. Well, this is very interesting here. Very interesting. Very interesting.

Michelle: Anyway, let me finish this. Rightio. I said, “Please tell me why you didn’t talk about your business strategic and financial acumen.” And my words, not theirs, but both of them said, “Well, I wouldn’t be sitting here unless I had that.”

Renata: Yeah.

Michelle: It’s a given. You know, it’s a gate opener. Like I just would not be here if I didn’t have it. It is a given that you’re going to have that. So in terms of those senior people that you’re helping, they need to restate, it is a given that I’m here, but I’m going to tell you why it’s a given.

Michelle: These are my core skill sets and what sets me apart. Yes, I can drive for the outcomes, but I’m going to bring people on the journey. And I’m going to be an amazing strategic networker for the organization, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Michelle: So fascinating. And this is also where that gap emerges as well.

Michelle: When we’re giving advice, we forget it’s a gap. Well, it’s not, we’ve got to tell people it is a gate opener, not a given.

Renata: Well, I have something to share with you from last night. I had a first consultation with a client. She booked a consultation to do some reviews with me of her pitch and her resume. And at the end of that hour, I basically told her, you know what the issue is and the reason why you haven’t got the job that you deserve?

Renata: It’s because you’re too smart. You’re too smart and you’re coming to this conversation assuming that everybody is just as smart as you are, forgetting that the first thing that is going to be reviewing your application may not even be human. It may be a bot. And the second reviewer will be a very young HR professional who is not in your area of expertise.

Renata: And then the third will be an HR partner who again services your area of expertise and you are talking to them as if everything that you are bringing as your BQ is a given. You’re talking, it’s going above their heads, the writing and the way that you’re talking to me right now, even I can’t understand, right?

Renata: Like you need to dumb it down for us. You need to, and this can be very frustrating for men and women when applying for jobs, that they need to address the keywords, that they need to address the content, almost paraphrasing what’s in the job application, that they need to remind everybody of why they’re sitting there, why they’re the ideal candidate for this position. And it can be very frustrating for them because they want to jump ahead and be in the position and talk to their hiring manager and have a more sophisticated conversation.

Renata: Right, so that I find really interesting and that’s where I think they get confused because then they think they need to fluff it up and it’s not really fluff. It’s just that information translated to a simpler language. Communication style that’s easily understood by either the bots, if you’re applying for finance or retail or in any global organization, chances are it will be a bot reviewing your application and then, you know, a young HR professional or even a recruiter, a researcher, not the headhunter or the partner of the firm, but a researcher in the back office.

Renata: That gets a brief that says, “Find me on LinkedIn, 10 people that we need to contact to apply for this job.” So your LinkedIn needs to be written for that young professional as well. Make it easy for them to identify you.

Michelle: Absolutely. And Renata, this is about, you know, also in fact, there’s two points I want to pull out of that. Number one, I’m going to do second, which is the system. We need to change the system. But the second part is I have to pitch to my audience. And I think you’ve explained that beautifully.

Michelle: And there’s those, all those different people along the value chain to recruitment of people or bots. How do I target and use keywords, etc.? So how do I make sure I can get past each process? It’s a strategy and you’ve got to have the skills and the support. So, you know, that’s your domain. Well done. Awesome. But the second part is, and so we adjust our message. We adjust our message based on the recipient. Not everyone is going to

, you know, it’s the communication one-on-one. I’ve got something going on in my head and it comes out of my mouth, lands in your ears and goes into your head. If we were to look at both of our heads, we’ve got two lots of squiggles that don’t resemble each other because you’ve received the information in a way that you process it.

Michelle: So I’ve got to be really empathetic and this is where EQ skills come in. I’ve got to say, “Okay, how does Renata need to hear this? What’s going to work best for her?” How can I show up in the best way so that she sees me in the best version of myself? So that’s really important. But then the second way, the first way, the system, we also have to educate the bots, the recruitment analyst, the researcher, the chief hiring person, and the hiring manager about what’s important to look for.

Michelle: And to craft really good interviews where people can demonstrate. Because what we’re still doing is underplaying the importance of demonstrating. So, so, honestly, if I could have one wish right now, it would be that every hiring manager, let’s assume our women have got all the way through, or everyone has, but, that every hiring manager says, “You know, when I come into this interview with Renata, how am I going to get the absolute best out of her?”

Michelle: “And I want to know that she can run my business.” So I’m going to say, “Renata, it’s really important that in my business, you’re able to drive for outcomes in this domain, this domain, and this domain. The work that we do is like this and this. Can you tell me about your skills that deliver those kinds of outcomes?”

Michelle: It’s coaching in the moment, but it’s helping her in that moment bring her best self forward. I still feel like I get feedback, and I don’t know if you do, Renata, but I still feel like in hiring processes people feel like they’re in some kind of, you know, in front of a firing squad when they’re in an interview and they feel like, oh, they can’t possibly make a mistake.

Michelle: And I want that to change because I think this is the way to bring the best out of humans. Let’s bring the best out of them by telling them what we need to hear. Because they’ll either, they can either do it or they can’t. Because you can’t make this stuff up, right? So there’s a system thing here as well.

Renata: Well, definitely. You know, the recruitment system and the way that it’s set out is very standardized. It doesn’t take into account not just gender differences, but cultural differences. You know, if you come from a blue-collar background or an indigenous background, or if you come from a completely different country and you have, you know, 15 minutes to talk to a recruiter about yourself and answer three, four questions, it’s overwhelming for somebody who doesn’t—you know, that doesn’t mean they can’t do the job. So I’m with you 100% because I cannot change the system myself. I try, but you know my goal is in educating whoever is going through that stressful situation to remember that depending on your culture, your background, your values, your gender, you may perceive things differently.

Renata: So some people will come out of the exact same interview situation and say, “Oh, I’ve done well.” And others will say, “Oh, I’ve done so poorly,” you know, and usually there’s a gender difference there and women tend to talk more. So 15 minutes is usually not enough for them. So just, you know, if we can extend that to 30 minutes, that in itself helps so much with diversity and inclusion in so many different ways, you know, just getting your brain sort of eased up, you know, because it takes maybe five to ten minutes for some to go from high cortisone to regulating your hormones for stress and then being able to think more creatively. Fifteen minutes is not enough. So all of those little things that we could do.

Renata: But look, I think one thing that I want to end up with today that I see happening a lot and, you know, value my time with you because I know it’s so rare for us to catch up, but it’s this thing that I see all the time and I always wonder, you know, in my mind, I wonder what would Susan—I mean, I’m going to put the link to Susan’s episode here in our previous conversations in the episode show notes as well—but it’s with salary negotiations, Michelle, salary negotiations and women, and even identifying the right roles.

Renata: And I get really frustrated with women who achieve a certain level of success, then for one reason or another find themselves without a job. And then they really struggle to remain at that level. And I think it’s because the higher up you go, the fewer women you find and the harder it is for them to retain a C-level or the head-of-level position that they’ve achieved in their previous place of employment. And then they start seeing themselves just lowering their expectations, right? So what do you think we could do to address that inequity? Bias. And I know it’s driven by environmental factors because they already know that they have a lesser chance of getting that role because there are fewer women in C-level positions.

Renata: I understand that. But how is it that they can, we can help them remain confident and patient to get the roles that they deserve?

Michelle: Great question. And really timely because I had a conversation with a very senior woman earlier this week who was adjusting her expectations about what role she was going to re-enter the workforce through. And I said, “Why would you do that? Stay, keep aiming high. Why would you do that?” And she’d been referred to me by a friend who said, “Michelle will tell you how it is.”

Michelle: And I just said, “I’m going to tell you how it is. Don’t lower your standards. If you pitch lower, you’re going to get lower. Pitch high, aim high, embrace your ambition, and go for it. And then ask people to help you get there.” So that’s number one, is that mindset shift. And part of that is saying, “I am worthy. I’m skilled. I’ve got the credentials and I’m competent.” And this is what Susan talks about: competence builds confidence, confidence creates courage. There is this—I love formulas, I love three-set formulas. So when we have the competencies, hello, I’m competent. I’ve been a C-suite leader, I’ve delivered X, Y, Z, blah, blah, blah.

Michelle: I have these competencies. No one can take that away from me. So I feel very confident because I have those competencies. Now that confidence is going to give me the courage to say, “No, I don’t want the general manager’s role. I want the executive general manager’s role because that’s what I’m worth.” And by the way, that also comes with this salary package because the whole, you know, salary negotiation is where you started off, but aim for what you deserve.

Michelle: Brene Brown says, “Stand in your worthiness. Don’t hustle for it.” You do not have to hustle for stuff that you have. You’ve got a track record of credentials, accomplishments, deliverables. Stand on them and shout from the rooftops, “This is what I’m good at and this is what I deserve.” So the very first thing we can do, Renata, is start having those conversations.

Michelle: Do not settle, but this is what not settling looks like. Now, if in a process someone says, “Look, we don’t reckon you’re quite ready for EGM, but here’s another role,” and you think, “Well, okay, I could live with that,” and then there’s a pathway. I could live with that as long as there’s a pathway to the EGM and what’s our plan for me to get there.

Michelle: That’s the stuff. So we do have to—you know, competencies. Remember our competencies. Don’t get accomplishment amnesia. Be confident in those abilities and step forward. Ask for help. Ask for people to help you get there. People love to help. You and I like that, Renata. “Can you help me?” Yes. It’s even easier to help someone who knows exactly what she wants.

Michelle: So ask for that help. So as leaders—so I’m now talking to the system—as leaders, I want us to have more of those conversations. Don’t settle. Aim high, I’m going to help you.

Michelle: And for her, I want her, if you feel wobbly and you think, “Oh, I don’t really think I could do that,” please go and talk to Renata or me or someone like us because we will disabuse you of the notion that you are not worthy.

Michelle: You are.

Renata: Mm. Yes. I agree. I agree. And it is a typical—the challenge of being in that position where you start getting wobbly is that you said if you go down, you’re going to get it. You actually won’t. My experience is if you achieve the level of success and then you get wobbly and you decide to apply for jobs that are beneath that role that you had just recently, you’re going to be considered overqualified. Right? And it will be hard for you to convince the recruiter or the hiring manager that you want that job and not his job.

Renata: So it is

Michelle: Absolutely.

Renata: Super hard. You know, I have those conversations day in, day out with people. And I’ll be honest with you, Michelle, four or five years ago, I was very reluctant to be so straightforward about my opinions.

Renata: And because I wanted people to get whatever jobs, you know, I was just really happy to help right

now. People call me, have conversations with me about this every day. And I tell them, do not go down that path. It’s a losing path for you.

Renata: It’s—yeah, so I am very—I have a strong opinion about this because I have seen the success when you stick to your guns and you follow Brene Brown’s advice.

Michelle: This is where your strategic network, your personal board of advisors, your cheer squad will keep you on track. No woman is an island.

Michelle: You can do this, and we are here to help you. Renata is here to help you. This is why we have professionals like you to help us.

Renata: Well, thank you. But I also want to remind people of the book, The Leadership Compass. That is like a wonderful investment. Just looking at the chapters, you will see how important this book is for you. The second is your community. So do you want to talk about it? Because I’m a big fan and I want you to.

Michelle: You are, and you’re a great contributor. So the Lead to Soar Network, which is an online network with, geez, with people, with women, with content, with experiences, that is designed for ambitious women who want to reach their full potential. So it’s got chat, it’s got courses, it’s got posts, it’s basically LinkedIn for women, LinkedIn for businesswomen. And we have group coaching sessions, both in America and here in Australia. We have online meetups, we have in-person meetups, so it is a place for ambitious women to reach their full potential.

Renata: I love that forum. I love to participate. I should participate more.

Michelle: We are there when you need us, Renata.

Michelle: This is the whole thing. It’s, it’s that we are there when women need us, and it’s, it’s designed—it’s not a Facebook, it’s not an Instagram, it’s, I’m going to go, it’s like my book, you can put us down and pick us up as you need us, and we are always going to be there for you.

Renata: Yes. Now, I, when I told you this, that when my clients finish the work with me and they find the job, that’s what I think they need to do next. You know, they need to join Lead to Soar and stay connected with other women. And you have an event coming up in Melbourne. I remember the first event you did was in the US, and I’m like, “Oh, I hope she does one in Melbourne.” And this is the second time you do an event in Melbourne, and I’m—

Michelle: It is.

Michelle: Oh, you’ll be away. Yeah.

Renata: I’ll be away, but I will put a link in the show notes for the book, the Lead to Soar Network, and the face-to-face event happening in Melbourne in the second half of the year. Anything else you want to—

Michelle: Oh, as always, I want to thank you for giving me space and, you know, having this space for me to talk about my work, particularly in the context of your work. So I’m really grateful to you, Renata. You feed my soul. You feed my business. You help so many women leaders. So I’m grateful for you and, you know, I think you do just so much to help the whole industry be so much better.

Michelle: And thank you for that. So thank you for allowing me—

Renata: You’re very kind. Thank you so much, Michelle. Great having you.

Michelle: Thanks.

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