What’s holding you back in your career?
"Quite often for the women that we work with it’s confidence to take the leap or make the next step. They are often so focused on doing a good job that they don’t find the time to look to the future and think about where they want to go in their career. "

What would you do if you felt 100% confident? This is a question we often pose to our clients. For some the answer is easy; I’d go for promotion, I’d retrain, I’d start my own business. For others, even considering that presents a challenge, either they haven’t thought about it or they’re held back, by self limiting beliefs, narratives they’ve constructed or “truths” that they’ve been told. Understanding where those limits have come from and if they’re based on evidence is important to address.

There is a definite disconnect between competence and confidence, a study by Cornell university showed that men (in general) overestimated their ability and performance whilst women underestimated both. We only have to look at some world leaders to witness over-confidence vs low competence in action and we hear many examples within organisations of super confident individuals progressing because everyone believes the hype.

There is no doubt that women have proved their competence in the workplace but in our experience it’s rare that they are high both on competence and confidence. What happens is that they are often so focused on demonstrating their competence that they don’t develop their confidence. It’s also been proven that being “confident” can be a double edged sword for women. Self promotion is often judged differently, even when women do feel confident they are reluctant to self promote as they fear a possible backlash. 

What is the right amount of confidence if you’re a woman? Hilary Clinton was accused of being wooden, Theresa May robotic, a survey of most inspiring women earlier this year had the Duchess of Cambridge in first place, followed by Michelle Obama and the Queen, two of those women are precluded from self promotion! There wasn’t one female business leader on that list.

We know that the workplace was designed by men for men. With still too few women in leadership roles there are not enough role models. A generation of working women had to survive in a male culture and arguably adopt a male style to progress. Now evidence shows the strength and efficacy of a more female leadership style. Organisations with gender diverse leadership are more successful in many aspects including profitability, productivity and creativity. 

We rarely find that the women we work with lack confidence is some part of their lives. In fact often they are super confident in some other area of their lives, running a sports club, being on the PTA, volunteering, etc. We ran a poll this week on social media: 95% of our followers said they were confident, yet only 65% were confident in their career. A survey we did a couple of years ago showed a fifth of women felt they were not where they should be in terms of their career.

There are obvious steps that we guide women through to find their career confidence and take charge of where they want to go.

Self awareness is key.

Where are you competent? What have you developed so far in your career and what do you need for your next move?

Understand what’s holding you back and where did it come from?

Who or what was the source of that self limiting belief, is it accurate?

What do you need to feel more confident?

More feedback or recognition?

Training or coaching?

A better support network?

We’ve written over the past few weeks about taking responsibility for your own career development and the challenge of being in your mid career. Taking charge of the direction you want your career to take will definitely make you feel more confident.

We launching our Career Transformation Programme for Women in September, get in touch if you’d like to know more.