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5 essentials for ambitious women who want career confidence

When I talk to women privately (whether in a coaching session or just recently in conversations about my Career Confidence and Leadership Confidence programmes), I am always surprised (annoyed even) at how much a woman can lose confidence in herself and her abilities in the workplace.

Why do women lack career confidence?

It’s not that women lack talent, or ambition or experience. The truth is that we work in a male-dominated society. The modern workplace has matured around male values, male preferences and male styles of leadership and communication.

A woman’s instinctive style is different to a man’s

A woman’s instinctive, natural leadership and communication style is different to a man’s. I learned that when I expected my husband to read my mind!

The thing is organisations benefit from both styles of leadership. As we progress in our careers, there are fewer female role models. When we compare ourselves to our (male) peers, we don’t feel that we come off as well (because we are different and don’t value those differences) or we find ourselves adopting a leadership style that does not play to our strengths. It’s not that we’re not good enough, it’s that we are different.

If you are experiencing less confidence than you want in yourself or your career, here are 5 essentials that ambitious women need for career confidence.

Contribution

The first essential is to get clear on your contribution to the world i.e. your combination of talents, strengths, and experiences. Nobody else has the exact combination. We look at zebras and they look the same. But look more closely and you see each zebra has a unique set of stripes. That’s you too. You are unique. Even if sometimes you need help to recognise your strengths and talents.

When you are clear on who and what you are – your contribution – you will discover an inner strength that will boost your confidence and your resilience to deal with knockbacks.

Wellness

When was the last time you took ‘me’ time? Wellness is the second core element in your Confidence Circle: wellness is looking after your physical, emotional and mental health. Self-care is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. How can you possibly expect to give your best, to achieve your full potential, if you don’t take care of your own wellness.

It’s about having clear boundaries and knowing when (or if) you are OK about crossing those boundaries. It’s figuring out the work-life balance that works for you and understanding whether you are at the separator or integrator end of the continuum. Loved it when Anna Meller shared what psychologists know about work-life balance in my online conference.

For many of the women I work with, the penny drops when I point out that how you behave, what you say and what you do – is the role model for your children. If you rush around in a constant state of overwhelm and stress, never taking time to stop and relax, what message are you giving to your children? Our children don’t do what we say, they do what we do.

Mindset

Mindset came up time and again in just about every interview in The Confident Mother online conference. When I talk to women in business who have jumped from muddling along to industry trendsetter and ask “What changed?Mindset” is always the answer.

What we think – our thoughts and our beliefs – underpin our feelings. In turn, how we feel, determines how we behave. Your behaviour (your actions) leads to results. Whether they are the results you want, depends on your thoughts and beliefs.

Often our beliefs are unconscious. Beliefs that are not positive or unhelpful can also be referred to as limiting beliefs. However you can choose to have a different belief (and take different actions leading to different results).

I worked with a senior HR manager in a law firm recently – she had been encouraged to apply for the top HR role in her firm. But she was hesitant to put herself forward for promotion. During our 60 minute session, we uncovered that she believed you need a degree to be the Director of HR. Never mind the fact that she had more than 20 years experience! Once we identified that belief, we were able to choose a more helpful belief, and then take the appropriate actions to reinforce that belief. Now there’s no stopping her!

To develop your mindset, start by noticing your thoughts and beliefs. What is positive and helpful? What is not? Become aware of what’s working and what’s not.

Investment

You can listen to fabulous interviews, read brilliant books written by the best experts, talk to inspirational women, however none of this works unless you make an investment. That could be:

a financial investment: work with a coach (like me for example), find a leadership programme, join relevant professional body, sign up to a personal development course, or study a new skill.

a time investment: networking, reading, studying, connecting, volunteering, nurturing relationships, and most importantly time to take action.

Make an investment in you and your career. Career success doesn’t happen by accident. It’s not magic. It happens ‘on purpose’. Your purpose. Your investment.

Plan

The fifth essential to get career confidence is to have a plan.

You need the big goal and vision however you also need an action plan and strategy to achieve that goal. The best plans include smaller steps and milestones. Without a plan, you’re drifting. Drifting might be fun. You might get somewhere exciting but the journey will be easier and quicker when you have a plan.

Not just a plan. Get support and accountability too. Kelly Pietrangeli advocates forming a Power Pair which sounds fabulous. I work with a business accountability partner and we meet over Skype every Monday morning. I also love being part of a group – it’s at the heart of my personal success. I’ve worked with a business mastermind since 2014, never more than 8 people. Magic happens when you bring together a group of like-minded people and the result is always bigger than the sum of the parts.

The 5 essentials you need to get career confidence

The 5 essentials you need to get career confidence are Contribution, Wellness, Mindset, Investment and a Plan. You can achieve career success without all these essentials in place. However pay attention to all five and your career confidence will rocket skywards. And when you’ve got career confidence, you will achieve your career goals and ambitions more easily and more quickly.

p.s. how is your career confidence doing? would it benefit from a boost? Let’s talk. Click HERE to book your complimentary confidence booster call.

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Sherry Bevan

It can be hard to balance career and family. Sherry helps ambitious women get clear on what they really want, then find the confidence to do it.
If today's the day, you want to put your head in your hands and cry, know you are not alone. Why not check out these tips on how to cope with overwhelm.

Coach | Author | Speaker | Dog sitter
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