As true as it is that 21st century woman leaders still face many challenges in the work – including the glass ceiling, misconceptions, social stigma, gender differences and negative employee reactions – the biggest challenge we face is ourselves.
Our levels of self-confidence as female leaders tend to fluctuate at the best of times and can often be critically low. What can we do to boost our confidence and performance as leaders? Here are some practical tips for doing exactly that.
- Don’t be afraid to be confident—a major factor holding us back from being confident is the fear that people will perceive us as arrogant. This is not true—there’s nothing wrong with being assertive, regardless of your gender. Remember that if you exude confidence, your subordinates, peers and business associates are likely to be confident in you.
- Focus on your skills—reflect on what you’re good at. Reflecting on our strengths and the wealth of our experiences is not a natural state for humans—especially women—to be in, so you’ll have to consciously sit down and make a list of the things you’re good and the value that your various experiences have added to your skills set. If you really can’t think of any strengths, ask those who know you well what they are.
in some cases you may have to act confident before you really feel confident.
- Ask about training—specific courses in self-assertiveness or public speaking can help you in areas of confidence that you’re struggling with. Ask your employer if there are any such in-house training opportunities they can sign you up for. Alternatively, consider attending external training. Taking a day or two off work to attend an outside course is a worthy investment into your professional –and personal –development.
- Seek support—as well as formal training, advice and support from your superiors and peers can often be useful. Keep lines of communication with your employer well open and don’t be afraid to discuss matters with them. By having a good relationship with those associated with your work, you’re likely to feel confident in your work environment.
- Act confident—in some cases you may have to act confident before you really feel confident. By holding yourself properly, speaking with authority, voicing your opinions and taking immediate charge of situations, you’ll begin to build genuine confidence, even if it isn’t there to start with.
it’s easier to feel better in yourself and therefore more assertive if you’re looking after your mind and body.
- Be active at meetings—if you’ve left a meeting without contributing much, you don’t feel as if you’ve added any value to your organisation. Don’t be a passive observer at meetings. Get involved with the discussion and risk having your opinions or suggestions challenged. Once you’ve been in this situation a couple of times, you’ll begin to handle it with expertise, therefore boosting your confidence.
- Look after yourself—it’s easier to feel better in yourself and therefore more assertive if you’re looking after your mind and body. Eat a healthy and balanced diet, exercise regularly and stimulate your mind by consistently pursuing your favourite hobby, be it reading novels, visiting art galleries or learning a language. When you feel healthy and alert inside, this will exude from you and leave you feeling ready to handle almost anything.