In my last post, I talked about the powerfully positive impact women can have in business. I pointed out some key statistics showing how, despite advancements in education, women still lag behind when it comes to leadership positions across many industries in the US and abroad.
While there are many reasons why women are underrepresented in leadership roles, today I want to talk about just one: confidence.
Lack of Confidence Leads to Missed Opportunities
Citing the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) 2012 Women’s Report, Entrepreneur.com author Catherine Clifford points out that women often don’t think they’re capable of launching their own businesses. According to the report, there are substantially fewer female entrepreneurs than males, and in general, women report being more afraid of failure than men.
Interestingly, the GEM data also showed that around the globe, female entrepreneurs are more likely to run businesses that work directly with the consumer. Why? The data suggests women may choose retail and other consumer-related businesses because their growth ambitions are lower than men.
And in every economy studied, women reported lower perceptions of their entrepreneurial abilities than men did. In Japan, just five percent of women surveyed thought they had the skills needed to start their own business.
It’s not hard to see how a lack of confidence can lead to missed opportunities in your personal and professional life. Having a role model can make a difference – in countries where a higher percentage of women knew other female entrepreneurs, women were more likely to have confidence in their entrepreneurial capabilities.
How to Send Your Confidence Levels Soaring
Author Christine Perkett, a Forbes.com contributor, says in a recent article that confidence and self-esteem are like a “savings account” that guard our “bank accounts” from anxiety’s greedy threat to “overdraw” us.
Start making some deposits into your own “savings account” by trying out these helpful tips:
- Define what makes YOU great. Everyone has a unique set of talents, abilities, or characteristics that can be channeled positively. What are yours? What do you think gives you an advantage? What special ability has helped you – or someone else – and continues to be a driver of your actions?
- Quit comparing yourself to others. Face it – there will always be someone out there you perceive to be more attractive, successful, wealthy, etc. Instead of draining your energy by focusing on what others seem to have, focus instead on yourself and on continuing to express your greatest attributes.
- Take care of yourself. This is a basic statement that goes a long way – strong confidence in yourself and your ability to lead starts with self-care. Set aside time for exercise, shop for flattering, new clothes to enhance your wardrobe, eat foods that support health and wholeness, and take time out to reflect.
- Avoid sacrifice. Especially for women, this one can be incredibly challenging. When you find yourself constantly missing out on what’s important to you, what happens? You’re probably not very happy – and when you’re not happy, you can’t be your best self. The next time you find yourself making another sacrifice, check in with yourself and acknowledge you’re doing the best you can. And then show up for yourself like you haven’t before.
- Embody the powerful woman you KNOW you are! This means you can’t always be friends with everybody. A leader simply cannot be “nice” to every person all the time. Take a stand, stay well-aligned with your values, and don’t be afraid to be the decision-maker. As you continue behaving from an empowered standpoint, others will naturally start respecting you more, too.
Change isn’t an outward act, but an inward journey. In a Harvard Business Review article about women in leadership, the authors affirmed that becoming a leader encompasses far more than simply being placed into a leadership role, learning new skills and adapting requirements to suit the needs of the role. It involves a major identity shift, and for many women, this shift must begin with a change in self-perception.
Do you want to gain the confidence and clarity you need to accomplish your professional goals? Apply for a Bolder Moves Discovery Session. Or, contact me via email or by visiting my website, BolderMoves.com, anytime!
Colleen Slaughter Raue, Managing Partner of Authentic Leadership International
Colleen is a transformational leadership coach who guides international leaders as they attain the clarity, courage and self-confidence necessary to realize higher levels of productivity and fulfillment in both their personal and professional lives.
Her purpose is to facilitate her clients’ transformation from limiting beliefs and self-doubts into a deeper, more powerful knowingness of how much they – and what they envision for themselves – truly matter.