EP: 157 Five Power Leaks: Take Your Power Back And Fill The Gaps To Own Your Brilliance

BWW 157 | Five Power Leaks


How do women leak their power at work? Today, Jennifer Pestikas flies solo to share the five power leaks she sees among women from time to time, whether that be within herself or when coaching her clients. Take back your power once you notice that you are giving your power away, and as a result, you can stand in your power personally and professionally. So, what is a power leak? What happens when you are in a state of power leak? Join Jennifer in this episode as she gives the answers and shares some of the things that cause the power leaks and what we can do about it to plug those holes and move forward.

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Five Power Leaks: Take Your Power Back And Fill The Gaps To Own Your Brilliance

How are you doing out there? I’m excited because you get a solo show. I’ve been wanting to do a solo show for a while. Finally, it has worked out in my production schedule. Something that has been on my mind lately is how women leak their power at work. Let’s be honest. We leak it professionally and personally. Sometimes, it’s consciously. Other times, it’s subconsciously. I want to share the five power leaks that I see in myself from time to time, as well as with my coaching clients. Here’s the great news. Once you notice that you are giving your power away, you can take it back. As a result, you can stand in your power personally and professionally more often and hopefully, each and every day.

Before we get started, if you’re enjoying this show, please make sure to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. If you’ve already left a rating and review and we’ve gotten some sweet reviews lately, I thank you so much. Your support of the show means the absolute world to me. A quick reminder, I still have one to two spots for one-on-one personal leadership and career coaching available. If you are a working woman who would like help with professional confidence, asking for what you want, negotiating pay and benefits that feel in line with your contributions, and getting to the next level in your career, you can go to my website at BraveWomenAtWork.com. You simply click on Schedule A Discovery Call to see if coaching is the right fit for you.

One thing that I wanted to share that makes me different if you’ve been looking at different coaches, is that I wanted to share with you, I customize all of my coaching to meet my clients’ needs. That means that I’m going to be sending you the recordings after each session. I’m going to be sending you notes and other exercises. I may even send you things like screens for your iPhone, Android phone, or for your laptop if you’re thinking about affirmations. Those are some examples of how I customize the coaching experience for my clients and enjoy doing so.

Let’s get started with power leaks. Let’s start with a quote, “Women whether subtly or vociferously have always been a tremendous power in the destiny of the world.” That’s by Eleanor Roosevelt in It’s Up To The Women. What is the power leak to begin with? Power leaks are exactly what they sound like. With a power leak, you’re not fully owning your power and your strengths. When you’re in your own power, imagine yourself, you’re standing with your head held high. I’m even putting my head up higher. Your shoulders are back and down. You’re in confidence. You walk into the room and you own it.

I have a show if you want to go way back in the history of the show, called Own The Room. If you want to get more of this topic, go back to that one. You present yourself with confidence, knowledge, and experience. You know you’ve got this thing. On the opposite hand, when you’re in a state of power leaks, you are not walking tall and proud. You may be slouching or your shoulders are turned inward. You’re almost rolling yourself into a ball. You do not walk into the room with confidence. You walk in with fear and self-doubt. You may sit in the back of the room, not ask questions, or not show your brilliance.

You’re going to read me say the word brilliance a lot in this show because that’s what it’s about. It’s about sharing and showing our brilliance. You try to hide and you’re not sharing your gifts and your talents. You are playing small instead of big as Tara Mohr states in her famous book Playing Big. We have had moments where we rock it and others where we leak our power. During this solo show, I want to share some of the things that cause those power leaks and what we can do about it to plug those holes in the boat and keep moving forward.

Weak Language

What are the common power leaks? The first one that I see is the use of weak language. What are examples of weak language? They are filler and crutch words. They’re telling stories that allow us not to share our bigness, knowledge, and expertise. Here are some examples of what I mean by weak language. “I was just sharing that with you because I wanted you to know about it.” The word is like any of those filler words “I was just.” Anything that uses the word just is going to make you smaller. All of those are tentative. I see that I use the word twice because I think about this. I use this one a lot. These are the words that make you smaller.

You can google or do any type of internet search and get a list of more. There are many that would consist of weak language. You want to be on the watch when you use those. In what situations are you using weak language? With what individuals? With whom are you using that weak language? That might be triggering you to think about it differently. Opposing to plugging that boat, what about strong language?

What is strong language? It shares confidence, expertise, growth, and “I’ve got this thing.” Examples are, “I am confident that based on my experience, expertise, from my knowledge, I know that, I believe in.” Do you hear the difference? There is a significant difference between a weaker language and a stronger language. Everybody uses it. All sexes use it, men, women, and the like, but women have a tendency to use it more often.

I’ve talked about this topic week versus strong language, but it bears repeating. When you’re going to use that weak language out of habit or a reflex, I’m going to tell you, “Don’t beat yourself up about it.” Recognizing it’s happening is absolutely half the battle. After you recognize that it’s time to choose again, choosing again is simply deciding to replace the weaker language with a more powerful choice, word, or phrase during the next interaction or opportunity. It’s going to take practice and patience, but I believe in you. You can absolutely do it.

Recognizing it's happening is absolutely half the battle. Share on X

I shared the word just twice because I must have been thinking about it. My weak language word is the word just. I have used this word to death. When I use that word now, I may even decide to correct my language mid-sentence or mid-conversation. You may be like, “Isn’t that weak?” I don’t think because you’re doing self-correction techniques in the middle. We’re all human and we’re all on a learning journey so “So what?” is my answer.

Here’s an example of the use of the word just and this might be an email or something verbal, “I was just checking in on how you’re doing with a project.” How does that sound? By putting in the word just, it sounds like I may be inconveniencing you like, “Can I talk with you on the status of that project?” Let’s reframe that. Let’s reframe that same scenario of, “I’m checking on a project.” How about this, “I am checking in on your piece of the project. How is everything going? Are we still on track with timewise?” How does that sound in the opposite? You’re doing the exact same thing. You’re checking on the status of a project but is much more powerful than the first example.

You’re not making an apology. You’re not saying you’re sorry for following up or making yourself small by following up. The word just for me is a tough one, and it’s something that I have to work on all the time. Remember your words matter. As Edwin Land said, “The world belongs to the articulate.” I was talking to a client about the idea of articulation. It is important. There’s a Canadian author and speaker Jordan B. Peterson who’s written many books that say that people, especially women, who articulate are very dangerous because we can speak up and say what we want, ask for what we want in a very clear and concise manner. There’s something to our word choice here.

Not Speaking Up At All

What is the next power leak? On one spectrum, we’re talking about using weak versus powerful or strong language. How about not speaking up at all? That’s the next power leak. We often, included and let our work speak for itself. We will not raise our hand in meetings. We will not ask the question. We will not advocate for ourselves. We will not share our ideas. I’ve shared on the show before. I was the kid who was too shy to speak up or was even told, “You’re raising your hand too much because you know the answers. Let other people have a turn.”

That teaches us, especially girls, not to raise our hands. Now that I’m an adult I’ve often been told I’m too much or I have too many ideas and I must pick my battles. Isn’t that similar? It’s similar. While there is some truth to picking my battles and determining my timing when sharing something, there is absolute truth for that. There’s absolutely professional prowess. I beg you to speak up speak up. By not speaking up, we’re not hearing brilliance.

Others are determining your level of power of knowledge, expertise, and influence based on their knowledge or opinions of you. Think about that. If they have an opinion of you that’s faulty, aired, or not true. That’s what’s coming forward. What if they’re your manager? What if they’re a sponsor or a future Mentor or someone that can get you to a promotion or not? We don’t want that. We want you to stand in your power and on your own accord, on your own two feet, and not the other way around. How can you take your power back in this area?

During the next meeting, I’m going to challenge you, “Raise a question.” It may sound silly or trite that I’m asking you to insert a question. It’s got to be a well-placed question. I don’t want to be some random question. Think about it. It’s got to be a smart and well-placed question in the conversation in the meeting but do it. Leadership is going to recognize your participation, especially if you haven’t been participating on a regular, and see you as someone who is engaged in the conversation.

I’ve been in upper management for 10 to 15 years. I’m like thinking back. I can’t even think how long but it’s been a long time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “This person isn’t engaged. This person is too quiet,” because they don’t speak up. I’m challenging you to open your mouth. Share your expertise. Ask the question and speak up.

Self-Doubt, Perfectionism, And People-Pleasing

The next power leak is and it’s like a big vat of self-doubt, perfectionism, and people-pleasing. They could be their own power leaks individually, but I’m going to mash them together for the sake of time, but they are big ones. These are tough power leaks because it’s almost like us against us. It’s our brilliance against our own head game of saying, “We’re not good enough.” We’re leaking our own power. That’s hard to admit. That’s hard to say, “I’m the enemy of me.” How can we be leaking our own power in these scenarios?

Let’s start with self-doubt. The negative thought in your own head, self-doubt, would be saying stuff like this, “I’m not good enough. I can’t do this. They’re going to find out I’m not qualified for this job, this project,” you insert whatever here, “I’m a fraud. Who am I? He, she, or they would be much better for this project.” That’s the inner critic or self-doubt talking with the splash of imposter syndrome, “They’re all in my mind. This is my opinion.” They’re like all cousins and related to one another in that self-doubt family. I know that there are differences. There are entire books and resources on this, but for the sake of this episode, I’m putting them all together.

The first way to plug this power leak is to notice that you are being terribly mean to yourself. I was rereading a book by my former guest L’Oreal Thompson Payton and her book Stop Waiting For Perfect reminded me of naming our inner critic so that we can separate ourselves from it. I was on a plane. As I was reading her book, I was like, “What I’ve never named my inner critics. What is her name?” I named her. Her name is Fearful Fran. I’m sorry to anyone whose name is Fran. This is what came up for me. This is what my gut and intuition said. I’m going to go with Fearful Fran.

You can name your inner critic anything you want, but make sure you notice when Fearful Fran, Negative Nancy, sorry if your name is Nancy, or whatever her name is speaking versus the most powerful version of you would be saying instead. As soon as you notice that then you can tame that inner critic voice by telling her, him, they, or in my case, Fearful Fran, that you’ve got this thing and you’re ready to take control of your career, your life, or whatever the situation is, enter here. You can put whatever situation in here because you’re inner critic can run rampant in any situation.

Coupled with self-doubt or the inner critic, I have historically dealt with perfectionism and people-pleasing as their sidekicks. They’re my other power drainers. Why is perfectionism a power drainer for me? I’m only speaking for myself. I have such high standards for myself. This is what happens. Fearful Fran jumps in and then I procrastinate because Fearful Fran doesn’t want to make a mistake. If I can’t do something perfectly, I might as well not do it at all, I’m asking you even though it’s like almost like we’re mythically talking a coffee, “Does this resonate? Have you put things off? Have you said, ‘I’ll do it. I’m going to get to it?'” All of a sudden, it’s a few days, or weeks, and then it never happens.

By not taking action, I automatically lose so do other people because I don’t shine my brilliance and my gifts. My power is leaking out because I’ve been too afraid to fail. I stay in my comfort zone. Whatever you believe whether you’ve tuned in to this once like this is your first show or many of them or all of them, I thank you for being here. It means the world to me. If I had stayed in my comfort zone because I was too afraid to fail because I never took a podcasting class, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be in whatever number I’m through now. I wouldn’t be where I am right now without this podcast because I would have been too afraid to start because I would be too afraid to fail.

Let’s share on people pleasing. We cannot take it for granted because it’s another tough power leak. We can’t be authentic. We can’t be our powerful selves if we’re too worried about making sure everyone else is happy. I’ve done this with my family, especially, my mother and my parents, always gold star chasing, wanting to make sure everyone was happy. The brutal truth is that most times, standing in our own power is going to upset other people.

BWW 157 | Five Power Leaks
Five Power Leaks: We can’t be authentic and be our powerful selves if we’re too worried about making sure everyone else is happy.


I wish it wasn’t the case and that everyone was on board with you when you were making brave and bold moves, but it’s not true. People are going to be off but because you’re doing something different, out of character, or out of pattern. You are going to have to know that by standing in your power, you may upset others. An example may be saying no to something that no longer works for you. It may be speaking up when that person would prefer that you keep quiet.

It may be asking for something and that person doesn’t want to provide it, reluctant or whatever. It’s speaking your truth. This is the hard stuff. It’s in these times that we build resilience and grit. It’s through resilience grit and many other ingredients. If you think of all of this, this is like one big soup. Life is one big soupy mess. These things, resilience and grit, enable us to live and work in our power. I’m putting them all together. They can be for other shows for us in the future, but I wanted you to know that I struggle with all of these things even to this day.

Lack Of Preparation

The next power leak is a deceptively simple one and it’s a lack of preparation. Here are some examples. You go in cold into your annual performance evaluation. Even though I’ve been putting it out on social media, “This is how you prepare.” I’ve mentioned a brag file or smile file. You’re like, “I don’t need to do that. I go in cold.” That’s an example of a lack of preparation. Others are, “You don’t practice before a job interview.”

You go in cold or you walk in with no notes to a negotiation. That automatically puts you in a weaker position. What is the result of these examples? For the lack of preparation for the annual performance review. Let’s start there. It can set you back in a conversation for your next promotion or the boss comes in prepared or the HR person comes prepared and says, “We need you to be improving these areas and you disagree with it. You weren’t prepared to have a retort about and give them examples of how you did improve in those areas. I can impact you not only on promotion but in your current year review and performance.”

In the second example, you may not get the job. That was the job interview because you’re not as polished as the next candidate who took time to prepare. What about that negotiation, which you all know that I love to talk about negotiation? I’d love to talk about women and money because I think that we all need to earn more. This could directly impact your bank account. Who doesn’t want to make more money? I want you to make more money. You could accept a job or negotiation without a second thought. You’re thankful to get the job, project or whatever that you find out that you could have been paid more. It could’ve been a few thousand more, $30,000 to $50,000 more. You didn’t go for it.

That can sting. Let’s talk about preparation and how you can do it. I’ve already mentioned and I put it out on social media. Please connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram. I talked about a brag file. a brag file or smile file is simply putting together literally a paper file like a circular file or and I do an electronic file of times when you got kudos and complements when you were told you got you did a good job or you know, you did a good job and took notes on a project. Any of those need to go in your brag file or your smile file, good performance reviews, and 360 reviews, which are evaluations from cross-departmental parts of the organization. If you do 360 reviews in your organization, all of that needs to go in the brag file.

Researching the company in advance. Now we’re on the job interview. You are interviewing that company as much as they are interviewing you. You want to research the company in advance to show that you’re truly interested in the company and the opportunity and also to ask insightful questions to ensure that this is the right fit for you because I will tell you’ve made this mistake, I’ve jumped at jobs because it was more money. I get there and I’m like, “This is not the right fit.”

BWW 157 | Five Power Leaks
Five Power Leaks: You want to research the company in advance to show that you’re truly interested in the company and the opportunity and also to ask insightful questions to ensure that this is the right fit for you.


I’ve known 2 or 3 days into jobs and I tell my husband I’m like, “No, this is not the right fit,” and overstay. Those are mistakes I’ve made along the way. Another way you can prepare is by creating an agenda for a meeting with talking points and or questions. That can be in your day-to-day work. If you’re going into a meeting, you want to have your homework done. You want to come in with your own talking points. You want to come in with your own questions. I even work with my coaching clients on scripts, which you may think, “You build scripts for people? Isn’t that perfunctory?” Doesn’t that sound weird? No, because no one knows that you’re bringing in a script. No one knows that you’re coming

repaired with the bullet points that you want to say because let’s say you lose your footing from a communication standpoint. We talked about articulation. You need to be articulate you want to be clear and concise. By having scripts or talking points and/or an agenda, they don’t know what you’re coming in with. They know by how you’re representing yourself and presenting yourself that you’re prepared. Who doesn’t want that?

By doing the homework, understanding what the market is paying for your current or future job, and practicing in advance of the discussion, you can achieve your desired outcome. I’m talking about negotiation. That can be about asking for them to pay for graduate school or at least a part of it. That can be asking for an extended maternity or paternity leave. That can be asking for more money or better benefits, a hybrid schedule or what have you. It does not have to be about money. Although, I am passionate about making sure that women get paid what they’re worth.

You want to do that homework and understand what the market is paying. I’ve talked about Salary.com. There are many others. I’ll give you a couple of other resources, but Salary.com is what’s coming up right now when you’re looking for that salary research and all you do is put in your job title. You can compare jobs and go into your geographic location. HR professionals are going to use various tools. Salary.com is not a science. It’s not exact. It’s more of an art. You have to understand that there may be different scales or companies that people use for salary evaluations and salary studies, but you want to do your homework as well. I know you’re like, “You’re asking me to do even more.” I’m asking you to do more. Preparation takes time and effort, but it’s going to be worth it. I promise you that.

Running Solo

As I have Illustrated with these examples these things by being prepared is going to enable you to maintain and be in your power. The next way I see the leaks happening is the decision to run solo. Not leveraging your networks, running solo, and deciding, “I can do it all by myself.” That is a lie of the capital order. I learned that as a child. I always thought that I had to do everything by myself. I had to control everything by myself because of that perfectionism tendency.

If you are a perfectionist out there, you understand. You don’t want to share weakness or vulnerability with people because you want to control everything because it makes you feel better. As a result, you are leaking power all over the place. By trying to do everything on your own and not leveraging those inner circles, whether that’s your friends or family members. I’ve talked about a personal board of advisors. Whoever is in your corner, you’re not allowing people to help you and share their brilliance and gifts with you to make your life easier.

We only have so much energy and time in the day. As I was thinking about this section of the show, I thought about Laura Vanderkam who’s a famous author. She’s a time and productivity guru. She tracks like every hour of her waking life. I’m calling her a productivity researcher/almost scientist, and that’s my title not of her own. She has reminded me every time I read one of her books, and I highly recommend you go check them out, we all have the same 168 hours in a week.

One hundred and sixty-eight hours is what you have in a week if you didn’t know that, but that’s what you have. If we decide that we’re going to tackle all the things without leaning on our village, we’re going to be doing things that are not within our range of strengths. When we do this, we’re automatically leaking our power all over because we’re wasting our time on things that we probably should not be doing. I don’t like the word should as you know, but we probably can be putting them somewhere else to focus on our zone of genius. How do we fix this?

We have to be vulnerable. We have to ask for help. I believe and I’ve learned the hard way that asking for help is a symbol of strength. We have to lean on our posies. We have to leverage our networks for support. If you don’t have a network for support, you can email me at Hello@BraveWomenAtWork.com to get started or find me on LinkedIn. I’ll be your first person in your posie of support and for insight.

You need to lean on your posies for mentorship and/or sponsorship right to get you and those higher places and spaces in your career. These networks both personal and professional are going to help us tremendously by staying in those zones of genius. We can leverage the power. It’s going to allow us to save time and energy which I am all about lately because time is one of the most precious, if not, the most precious commodity. Doesn’t it sound amazing to say, “I need help?” You can free up time. Maybe you can do something that is more joyful for you because isn’t that what it’s all about?

As a bonus, if you’re wondering, “I don’t even know what my strengths are.” You’re like, “I don’t know. I don’t even know where to start.” Here are some resources some tools. The first one that I always think of and share with my clients is the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment at Gallup.com. I do not get paid to promote Gallup.com or StrengthsFinder 2.0. It’s a great assessment and resource. I do want to let you know that there’s a cost associated with that assessment. Keep that in mind. I went on their website and it arranges between under $20 to $60, depending on the scope of the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment purchased. You can choose by going to Gallup.com if that’s the right fit for you.

Let’s say you’re like, “I want a free resource.” I’ve got your back. A free way to determine your strengths is by asking for feedback from your manager and peers. You can even go beyond that. Go to your posie because your manager and your peers are going to give you maybe even a varnished response. I hope that they’re honest but let’s go to our true posie, our family members, friends, personal board, advisors, and mentors, those folks. Here are some questions that you can ask them. You can preface it by saying, “I listened to a podcast. I’m working on finding my strengths so that I can better use my time and energy.” You can use what I said in your intro email.

You can say, “I just listened to a podcast. I’m working on a strengths project so I can catalog my top strengths so I can better use my time and energy. Can you help me?” Most people want to help other people. You’re going to say, “Please give me your honest feedback.” The question is, “What are my top three strengths or qualities, which are the same or similar?” You may want to ask, “Can you give me an example? Why did you mention what you mentioned if you’re going to talk to them live?”

This is vulnerable, but if you ask a range of people you’re going to start to see patterns and then you’re going to be able to start to reflect on those patterns and be like, “I’m great at articulation. I’m great with time management. I’m great with productivity or whatever it is.” You’re going to find those strengths. It’s vulnerable. It can be uncomfortable because no one wants to hear feedback but I don’t want to say no one, but a lot of people struggle with getting feedback. It’s like, “What are people going to say?” You’d be amazed that people want to help you and it’ll be worth it for you to ask for that feedback.

You'd be amazed that people want to help you and it'll be worth it for you to ask for that feedback. Share on X

That resource is entirely free. In summary, here are the top five power leaks that I have personally experienced and/or seen in my coaching clients. Using weak language to appear small or not professional, don’t have the expertise, or what have. You’re using weak language or not speaking up at all. It’s the second power leak, letting your work speak for itself. The third one sabotaging themselves with self-doubt, perfectionism, or people-pleasing. All of them in my mind are interrelated, interconnected, and twisted family members. Not being prepared in critical career, professional, or personal moments, trying to do it all, and not leveraging their networks or posies for support. Bonus, this is the sixth one, to back it all up, not knowing your strengths. I’ve given you some tools to find those strengths and hone them.

That does it for our discussion on the top five power leaks and how to fill those gaps. My questions to you until next time are, do you have any of those power leaks? I do. I still do I’ve mentioned. I’m humbly coming to you that I still struggle with some of these myself each and every day. You got to notice them. You have to be compassionate with yourself and choose again. If any of those power leaks strike a chord with you, write them down.

Think about who they appear with and what scenarios so that you can make course corrections. Where do you want to start filling those gaps? You can share your brilliance and achieve your personal and professional goals. Are you seeing any of those leaks? Do any of them strike a chord with you? Where do you want to start filling those gaps? Those are three questions for you to journal on, reflect on, and talk with your posie or personal board of advisors to get started. I want you to know that I believe in you. I believe that you can stand in your power with a little effort and determination.

When you do, I cannot wait to see how you leverage your strengths to light the world on fire. As a reminder, please rate review, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. The show is also available on Google Podcasts and any other podcast platform you enjoy. Until next time, show up, stand in your power, and be brave.


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About Jennifer Pestikas

BWW 157 | Five Power LeaksJennifer Pestikas is an executive with over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. She is currently the Senior Vice President of Business Development of a Chicagoland financial institution. Jen understands the necessary skills to make significant leaps in your career, including mindset, asking for what you want, interviewing skills, the ability to negotiate, professional presence and more.

In addition to her corporate work, Jen is now leveraging her experience with her personal company, Brave Women at Work. At Brave Women at Work, Jen offers career and leadership coaching for women. She helps her clients better identify their strengths, what they want, what is holding them back and how to remove these barriers so they can take bolder and braver action in their careers.

Jen has a Bachelors in French and Spanish from Indiana University and an M.B.A. from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. She is also a Certified Professional Coach and an Energy Leadership Index (ELI) Master Practitioner from the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC).

You can find Jen online at bravewomenatwork.com. Please also connect with Jen on LinkedIn or listen to her podcast, Brave Women at Work, which is available on Apple, and Google Podcasts, and Spotify. You can also pick up a copy of Jen’s books, Brave Women at Work: Stories of Resilience and Brave Women at Work: Lessons in Confidence, which are anthologies of women’s real-life stories of overcoming professional and personal challenges, wherever books are sold.

Outside of work, Jen loves spending time with her husband and two daughters, reading, going to the movies, and taking travel adventures with her family.

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