Despite progress in recent years, women at work still face significant barriers to achieving leadership positions. According to a 2021 report by McKinsey & Company, women hold only 27% of executive roles and 23% of board seats globally.
One of the biggest challenges facing female leaders is a lack of confidence and a feeling of deservability, which can hold them back from taking risks and pursuing opportunities. In this article, we will discuss strategies for fostering confidence in female leaders, including building self-assurance and resilience.
And what better way to do this than to ask our working professionals themselves? Read on for twelve unique ideas shared by female leaders, for female leaders, and which are also compiled by a millennial woman leader.
- Identify and challenge limiting beliefs
Limiting beliefs are negative thoughts and attitudes that can undermine self-confidence and lead to self-doubt. Female leaders may hold limiting beliefs such as “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t deserve success.” Identifying these beliefs and challenging them can help build self-assurance.
For example, a female leader who believes she is not good enough could challenge that belief by listing her accomplishments and strengths.
- Set realistic goals
Setting realistic goals can help female leaders build confidence by providing a sense of accomplishment and progress. Goals should be challenging but achievable and should align with the leader’s values and strengths.
For example, a female leader who wants to improve her public speaking skills could set a goal of delivering a TED Talk within the next year.
- Seek out mentors and role models
Mentors and role models can provide guidance, support, and inspiration to global female leaders. They can also offer perspectives and advice based on their experiences. Female leaders should seek out mentors and role models who share their values and goals, and who can provide constructive feedback and support.
A female leader could pick someone she is inspired by, her teacher from her past, or even her mother or sibling. In the years to come, she might become a mentor for someone else and keep the chain going.
Founder of Global Coaching Lab LLP, Executive Coach and Global Leadership Development Expert, Sripriyaa Venkataraman, shares coping strategies for women leaders to win in different areas of life.
- Build a support network
Building a support network of peers, colleagues, and friends can provide emotional support and encouragement to female leaders. A support network can also provide a sense of belonging and connection, which can help build resilience in the face of setbacks and challenges. For example, a female leader joins a professional organization or networking group to connect with other leaders in her industry, share ideas and resources, and build relationships.
Or when she participates in mentorship or coaching programs to gain guidance and advice from more experienced leaders, and to connect with peers who are also navigating similar challenges. It could even be someone who maintains and values close friendships and relationships outside of work, to provide emotional support and a sense of balance and perspective in her personal life.
- Develop a growth mindset
A growth mindset is a belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort and perseverance. Female leaders can develop a growth mindset by embracing challenges, learning from failures, and seeking out new experiences and opportunities. A growth mindset can help build resilience and self-assurance by fostering a sense of optimism and possibility.
For example, rather than saying, “What if I fail?” start saying, “What if this becomes the next best thing?” This simple change in the way you speak to yourself will go a long way in shaping your career and success.
- Practice self-care
Self-care is essential for building resilience and maintaining good mental and physical health. Female leaders should prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and relaxation to help manage stress and promote well-being.
A female leader can set boundaries around her work schedule and take regular breaks to avoid burnout and maintain energy and focus.
- Take risks
Taking calculated risks can help female leaders take the leap of faith and develop new skills. Risks should be based on careful consideration of the potential outcomes and the leader’s values and goals.
For example, a female leader who is considering a career change could weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks beforehand. This will help her make a decision based on her values and priorities.
- Cultivate emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and manage one’s own emotions and those of others. Female leaders can cultivate emotional intelligence by developing self-awareness, empathy, and social skills. Emotional intelligence can help build confidence and resilience by improving communication and relationship-building skills.
For example, a female leader develops self-awareness by regularly reflecting on her emotions and behavior, and recognizing patterns and triggers that may impact her leadership style. Or she demonstrates empathy by actively listening to her team members and considering their perspectives and feelings when making decisions.
Assertiveness is the ability to express one’s opinions and needs clearly and confidently without fear of judgment or failure. Female leaders can practice assertiveness by using “I” statements, expressing themselves clearly and directly, and standing up for themselves and their values. Assertiveness can help build confidence and establish boundaries in professional and personal relationships.
For example, a female leader sets clear boundaries with a coworker who consistently oversteps professional boundaries, assertively communicating her expectations and needs. Or she negotiates a higher salary during a job offer, confidently advocating for her value and contributions to the organization.
Celebrating successes, both big and small, can help female leaders build confidence and self-assurance. Celebrations can take many forms, from a private moment of reflection to public recognition of achievement. Celebrating successes can help female leaders maintain a positive outlook and stay motivated in the face of challenges.
For example, after completing a major project, a female leader takes a few moments to reflect on the hard work and effort she put in, and gives herself credit for her accomplishments. Or a team of female leaders celebrates the successful completion of a long-term project by going out for a team dinner and recognizing each other’s contributions.
Self-compassion involves being kind and understanding toward oneself no matter what situations present themselves. Women leaders can practice self-compassion by recognizing their strengths and accomplishments, and being gentle with themselves when they make mistakes.
For example, a female leader recognizes that she made a mistake in a presentation and instead of beating herself up about it, she acknowledges that everyone makes mistakes and resolves to do better next time. Or a female leader is struggling with balancing work and personal responsibilities, and instead of feeling guilty about it, she recognizes that it’s a common challenge and seeks support from her network.
- Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness involves being present and fully engaged in the present moment. Women leaders can practice mindfulness by engaging in activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.
This could have so many examples in daily life for anyone, be it a man or woman or even a child! A female leader takes a few minutes before a big meeting to practice deep breathing exercises, allowing her to feel calm and focused. A woman starts her day with a few minutes of meditation, allowing her to be more present and engaged throughout the day. Or working women professionals who practice yoga during their lunch break, allowing them to release tension and refocus their energy for the rest of the day.
And where does this leave us?
Building self-assurance and resilience is essential for female leaders to thrive in their roles. By trying out any of these tips that resonate with them, women at work can build the confidence and resilience they need to succeed. By fostering confidence and resilience in female leaders, organizations can create a more inclusive and diverse workplace culture that benefits everyone. If you want to know more about how you can empower your women leaders, contact us.