Confidence: Why It Matters for Women Leaders & How You Can Build It
By Audrey McGuckin, CEO, WOTW -
Confidence matters. It’s a skill that can be learned. Yes, building confidence in yourself can transform your life, your career, the organizations you work for. Building confidence in the women leaders within your organization can reverberate far and wide. Study after study shows that confidence is a key component for success and happiness.
What is confidence? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines confidence as “a feeling or consciousness of one's powers or of reliance on one's circumstances.” In other words, confidence in belief and trust in yourself.
Before we get into the ways to build confidence, let’s discuss why confidence matters when it comes to women in leadership. Sheryl Sandberg, Former COO of Facebook of author of Lean In, says that confidence is important in women for 3 reasons:
- Women systematically underestimate their abilities.
- Women often attribute their success to external factors.
- Women don’t apply for roles where they don’t believe they fulfill all job requirements
In other words, when it comes to our careers, confidence shapes how we self promote, how much we’re paid, how we network, and our impact. It shapes the roles we ask for and how we navigate our entire career. It shapes the trajectory of our lives.
As someone who facilitates and enables leader’s “Aha Moments,” one of my favorite moments in our Navigator program is when woman leader begins to understand and unlock their confidence. Confidence is revisited several times throughout the program and to see a woman step into her power and feel her confidence is life changing for her and her cohorts. It’s inspiring.
Navigator facilitator Dr. Nayla Bahri, leads these sessions. Dr. Nayla has a particular interest in helping women leaders grow and in women’s leadership communities. The experiences that she designed for Women On Their Way empowers attendees in her key areas of expertise: leadership confidence, personal leadership, and career satisfaction.She is an executive coach, teacher, and co-host of The Inside Job Podcast. Her mission is to help everyone she collaborates with to create their ideal relationship with work, one that lets them thrive, experience more satisfaction and flow, lead with impact, and deliver excellence.
Dr. Nayla begins her sessions on confidence by saying confidence “is an inside job.” And it is. We build confidence within ourselves and then we share that confidence with the world. When we are confident we can use that force as the fuel to expand our capabilities and soar to new heights.
I understand that for women confidence can be a double-edged sword. We’ve been conditioned to be confident yet we fear in the workforce that when we’re overly confident we can be seen as arrogant or unlikeable. That’s what society has told us. It is the messaging we’re heard but we can choose to ignore it. After all, men don’t worry about seeming too confident. That’s because their social conditioning has taught them to use confidence as a skill.
That’s why I believe in helping women leaders develop this skill. The great news is that confidence is a muscle that is built over time. The more you practice it, the more you can leverage it. The more you learn the nuances of confidence and what feeds it, the more you can start to build it for yourself. Confidence requires training and as Dr. Nayla likes to say, despite our conditioning as women, “confidence and humility can co-exist.”
So, how can you build confidence? Start at the beginning. Understand that confidence is a set of thoughts and beliefs that you can change. Look at areas of your life where you feel confident. Start to evaluate why you feel confident and how you can apply that confidence to other areas of your life. Notice areas where you feel less sure of yourself and try to understand how your lack of confidence in these areas stops you or holds you back. In other words, start to know yourself and you will start to uncover the areas where you can build and enhance your confidence. Work on it from the inside to bring it to the outside world.
Also, there are so many great resources for women leaders on how to build confidence.Start to seek out TedTalks, books from other women leaders, and trainings like our Navigator program. All of these resources can help you learn how to tap into your own personal confidence, which will benefit your personal and professional lives immensely.
If you’re interested in transforming your leadership skills, schedule a meeting with our Chief Client Officer, Erica Jossim. We’d love to help you.