Last year around this time, I wrote a piece for the Globe and Mail about how so many accomplished women we see are too modest and not taking enough credit for the extraordinary things they are doing. And the problem is that this is holding them back. In response, many women asked, but what do you to get confidence?
What we know, is that Women of Influence say that “Confidence is the number one most essential element to women’s success”. And they define confidence as the ability to demonstrate self-assuredness in your choices at work, your decisions to raise a family, your communication style, your willingness to step up, how you speak up in a boardroom, how you are true to your femininity and yourself. Confidence is the most powerful solution to closing the gap of professional women’s advancement.
And here’s how Women of Influence gets confident:
- Public Speaking: Seek out and accept opportunities to speak in front of groups, lead teams, and head up committees; yes, it’s uncomfortable, but that is the universe’s way of telling you you’re learning something! The practice will enable you to develop your communication skills and be seen as a leader.
- Stretch Goals: Jump right in the deep end, bite off more than you can chew, and test yourself; it’s the only way you’ll know how far you can go! Creating “stretch goals” is an effective way to learn beyond your current talents and skills and develop new ones. Shelley Broader, President and CEO of Walmart Canada agrees, saying “You will never be ready for the next level until you go there.” Women tend to waste time preparing for the next step – we need to face the fact that you will never be fully prepared; you learn as you go.
- Fake it ‘til you make it: Showing confidence on the outside is just as important, and often a good first step if you’re still building confidence on the inside. How is that done? Start by standing up straight with your shoulders back and head up. Look people in the eye and speak in a controlled, steady voice. This will send a message of confidence. People will believe you what you say.
- Get rid of guilt: Free yourself from the confines guilty feelings about what you should or shouldn’t be doing. As women we have many decisions to make each day, whether it is at work or at home. The ability to make a decision and stand confidently behind it is a critical skill. If you decide to go to work, don’t feel guilty about leaving the kids with the nanny and vice versa, if you’re at home, be home. Be confident in your choices, so others are too.
Confidence, on the inside and out, will lead women to higher heights and begin to close the gender gap at the senior executive levels in the corporate world.
The fact is that Canada has not achieved gender equality in the workforce. Only 6% women are CEOs and only 14% women hold board positions.
There is work to be done by all. Women can do their part by forgetting the modest act and finally taking credit for the incredible feats they conquer each day.
– Carolyn Lawrence