Some leaders are born women, and some women have leadership thrust upon them. Plenty of female entrepreneurs feel naturally adapted to their leadership roles, but many others struggle to feel comfortable in a position of such authority. Unfortunately, many women in the latter category eventually abandon their entrepreneurial dreams, wrongly believing that they are not suited to be business leaders. The truth is any woman can become a strong, effective leader – all she needs is a little confidence boost.
Due largely to cultural norms regarding gender roles – and to a lesser extent biology – women are notably less confident than men, especially in professional settings. However, confidence is as mandatory for success as competence, which means female leaders must find ways to increase their self-assurance. Here are a few confidence-boosting tactics used by thriving female entrepreneurs – and male ones, too:
Find Someone to Talk to
Mentorship has demonstrable benefits for women looking to advance to leadership positions fast. Mentors provide invaluable advice and guidance to their mentees, and they help mentees develop critical skills sooner. However, perhaps most importantly, mentors often serve as therapists who can lend a sympathetic ear and strong shoulder to women who are feeling less than confident in their roles.
Female leaders should consider their business role models, scour their networks, or otherwise conduct a search for worthwhile mentors. In striving to live up to their mentors’ standards, women will inevitably develop the confidence they need.
Recognize the Fear in Others
It is naïve to believe that others do not experience fear. Even the most confident-seeming individuals are terrified by some prospect; it is only their ability to take positive action and project a façade of strength that hides their insecurity and panic. Female leaders who can remember that others are just as nervous as they are, tend to feel more comfortable in their environment, helping them build up a believable veneer of confidence, as well.
Highlight Your Strengths
Just as everyone experiences fear, everyone has weaknesses. However, dwelling on those weaknesses is not an efficient way to build confidence; it is not even a particularly effective way to transform them into strengths. Instead, women should acknowledge their weaknesses, take diligent steps to eliminate them, but focus most of their attention on their strengths. By remembering what makes them strong leaders, women will steadily reduce their insecurities and bolster their confidence.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Confidence grows much faster when it is fostered in a supportive community. While women should be able to improve their own self-worth, it isn’t inappropriate to observe achievements with others. In the workplace, women leaders should encourage the celebration of milestones – such as accomplishing department or company-wide goals – as well as fun holidays. Not only does this give workers a much-needed break, it helps generate a sense of unity between leaders and subordinates. Plus, receiving whole-hearted Boss’s Day gifts is another way for female leaders to recognize their teams’ appreciation and build self-confidence.
Consider Your Goals and Priorities
One of the most notable confidence-boosters is watching one’s work have an impact – but female leaders who prioritize improperly might never experience this satisfaction. Leaders typically have an overwhelming to-do list, but many women strive for quantity over quality to the result that only the low-impact tasks ever get done. While they might seem scary, those tasks that require more time and effort tend to be more rewarding, which means they should be finished first.
Trust Your Instincts
Most women in business have just as much experience as men in similar roles. They attend business courses, they work through entry-level positions, and they earn their leadership titles. Yet, men are much more likely to trust their business instincts. There are benefits to trusting gut feelings, especially when a leader has sufficient experience to cultivate effective reflexes. Women are natural planners, but in leadership roles, they should become confident following their intuition, as well.
Be Open With Your Employees
Employees depend on leaders to direct the company in a profitable direction, and leaders depend on employees to get their work done. Both groups must be imbued with confidence in one another as well as themselves to be effective and productive in business; however, leaders are largely responsible for inspiring such confidence in their subordinates. The best way to do this is to establish a workplace culture based on honesty and respect. By being transparent with employees, leaders will gain their trust, which is a significant aid in cultivating self-confidence.