When I upgraded my iPhone the other day the man that was serving me asked what I do for a job. I explained that I work with entry-level leaders and managers to bring out the best in them so they can lead and inspire others. I told him that I have noticed a pattern of those leaders lacking confidence in their ability. He replied, “Not me, I’m in that role here and I just get on with it”. That’s when I added, “I failed to mention, and the work I do is mainly with women.”
That got me thinking, why is it that women hold themselves back because of their perception they aren’t good enough? It’s even more than that – from a space of low confidence they then compare themselves to their male counterparts who ooze confidence and it diminishes even more. Do you feel stuck in your job, struggling to move from hands-on manager to inspiring leader? Are you then putting pressure on yourself to juggle work and home balance? And so the spiral continues.
What I have found from working with my clients is there are three key ways to overcome this lack of self-confidence.
- Wave your own flag
“Men are more confident across all age groups, with 70% of males having high or very high levels of self-confidence, compared to 50% of the women surveyed” – 2011 Study by Europe’s Institute of Leadership & Management
For many women, the concept of ‘managing up’ is something that sends fear tingling down their spine. But what will people think of me? I don’t like talking about myself. If you aren’t communicating the great work you are doing with your teams, then you aren’t representing them well. Proudly talk about your achievements, let your passion for what you do have a chance to shine. That enthusiasm is a powerful influencer – to both you and your manager.
- Trust in your ability
“Women’s experiences in organisations are highly likely to be shaped by the products of unconscious thinking, whether it be as a result of others’ stereotypes and biases, or as a result of the self-handicapping effects of their own unconscious gender biases and beliefs” – CEDA “Women in Leadership: Understanding the gender gap” June 2013
You already have everything you need within you right now as a leader. Push away that negative self-talk and replace it with all the reasons why you are great at what you do. Gather evidence each day and use these as reference points to strengthen your beliefs. Replace disempowering language with words that will support, nurture and empower you. For example remind yourself often “I am awesome this” and “I am worthy of leading this team” until you are certain you are.
- Focus on what you are great at
“Women will only apply for jobs when they believe they meet four of five selection criteria, whereas their male counterparts will apply when they believe they meet two” – Harvard Business Review research
What you focus on is what you get to the exclusion of everything else. If that is true, then it’s time to focus on what skills you bring instead of where the gaps are. Use a strengths-based approach to your leadership and talk to this when you are looking to be promoted. Take the time to find out what you are great at and work to those strengths. Here’s a great resource to get you started: http://strengths.gallup.com/110440/About-StrengthsFinder-20.aspx
“It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not.”
Working with women to change their everyday thinking has a significant impact on shifting their results – both professionally and personally. Small adjustments to how you think can make a big shift in how confident you feel and that’s when momentum builds.Tags: confidence reframing self confidence thought processes