All around the world, International Women’s Day represents an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women while calling for greater equality. Make It Happen is the 2015 theme for International Women s Day encouraging effective action for advancing and recognising women. A survey by RSA, the executive search firm, found that “women bring empathy and intuition to leadership” with nearly two-thirds of respondents (62%) thinking that women contribute differently in the boardroom, compared to their male colleagues. A similar proportion saw women as more empathetic, with a better insight into how decisions play out in the wider organisation and when it came to communications and effective collaboration, “over half felt that women were better”. Studies show us that profitability improves when women take on positions of leadership in companies. So what tools can best help women move ahead?
One powerful tool is mentoring. A mentor can show you how to ramp up your skill-sets, network effectively and work around or eliminate your weaknesses. They can even open some very important doors to leadership positions. We wrote a popular blog post on how women can develop their leadership skills and discussed this at the Women in Leadership Conference that was organised by the Student Union here at Bath. A common theme emerged which was around lack of confidence holding back women and the unwillingness to take risks. The Institution of Leadership & Management's research 'Ambition & Gender at Work' suggests that over 50% of women report feelings of self-doubt about their performance and careers. Time and time again research shows that women are less self-assured than men—and that to succeed, confidence matters as much as competence.
So how can women develop confidence?
- Use empowering language: Aston Universities Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King says women tend to use more cautious, less aggressive/assertive language, and often apologise for what they are about to say - ‘This isn't quite my subject area, but perhaps you might consider…’ ‘I am not sure this is exactly relevant, but…’ This can be interpreted as weakness and makes what women say easier to dismiss or ignore.
- Banish Negative Self-Talk: It is amazing how self-talk can lead us in to or out of a situation. If you can, take time to visualise the discussion or event going well rather than thinking of the things that may go wrong. Ask yourself, 'whats the worst that could happen?' - when you do this, you get a clarity and a bit of fear vanishes.
- Take a risk: Become comfortable with things that you don’t know, and turn your fear and failures into an eagerness to learn new skills.
- Celebrate your successes: The best confidence boost is to celebrate your successes and keep reminding yourself of it by writing them on post-it notes. Then have them displayed in an area that you can view each day e.g. kitchen, wardrobe, medicine cabinet etc.
Lets #makeithappen in 2015!