strong confident woman

4 Practical Ways to Build More Self-Confidence for Women in Leadership – Part II

 

Always remember you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. Christopher Robin

In my last post, we looked at the definition of self-confidence and why it’s so important for women looking to move forward in their careers. If you need more evidence of why confidence is imperative for women, we know that a lack of confidence in millennials can prevent them from  entering the workforce. And since they are now the biggest segment of the workforce, it should be in everyone’s interest to ensure these issues are addressed in companies through women’s leadership training through offering leadership development, mentoring and coaching opportunities for up-and-coming female leaders.

In this post, we’ll introduce four practical ways you can begin working on how to gain confidence, build inner strength and be free of that pesky voice that tells you you’re never good enough!

1. Write down the words of your Inner Bully

Now it’s also important to know the primary job of our Inner Bully. The job of our Inner Bully is to keep us safe. It wants to protect us by reminding us of our past failures and limitations so we won’t repeat the same actions that have caused us pain and humiliation in the past. But although it thinks it’s keeping us safe, it’s unaware of the damage it’s doing in the process, especially to our self-confidence. It’s like the operating system on a computer – it runs in the background so you can’t see it but it runs the entire thing.

 

woman working on herself

 

So how do we control the Inner Bully? We have to update our operating system.

The first step is to identify the voice of our Inner Bully. We are going to bring the Inner Bully into our conscious awareness so we can begin reshaping our beliefs into more positive ones. 

Take a moment now to think about your Inner Bully – what does it say to you? What are the words it uses? What is the dialogue? What are those limiting beliefs? 

Pick the main one, the one that is usually right there, and jot it down in your journal.   

2. Get in touch with your Inner Cheerleader

Now that we have identified the words of our Inner Bully, the next step is to replace those words with the words of our Inner Cheerleader.

Our Inner Cheerleader is the part of us that knows that we are good enough, we are smart enough, capable enough. It is the part of ourselves that is confident. Think about your best friends. Every time you are sad or not feeling particularly confident, you will probably call a close friend or family member and they will remind you of how wonderful you are. And you would do the same in return. What we have to learn to do is to do that same thing for ourselves especially when we notice the Inner Bully becoming loud.

So we are going to get in touch with our Inner Cheerleader as the second step to learning how to boost self-confidence. This exercise is a favorite with women who attend my workshops and keynotes because it helps them immediately connect to their power and authenticity.

To do that, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes for a moment. Bring to mind a peak experience from your past – a moment or a time in your life where you accomplished something big where you felt like you were at the top of the mountain. Really visualize that moment in time and bring it into your mind’s eye.

 

 

Think about the qualities you showed up with to reach that moment. Who were you being? What did it take to get there? Think about the qualities that got you there, and who you had to be to get there. What words come to mind?

 Open your eyes and write down the words that came to mind. What qualities did you exhibit to reach that moment? Write those down in your journal. Then turn those words into phrases or sentences. These phrases will begin to make up the dialogue of your Inner Cheerleader.

 3. Replace the Inner Bully with the Inner Cheerleader

Every time you notice your Inner Bully voice, you’re going to replace it with the words of your Inner Cheerleader from Step #2. I recommend starting out by first:

  • Keep a tally of every time you hear your Inner Bully getting loud.
  • Notice how many times a day it speaks to you.
  • In what situations or contexts does it tend to come up?
  • Do this for at least one week.

woman keeping the balance

 

In the second week, begin replacing the words of your Inner Bully with phrases you came up with from your Inner Cheerleader. You’re going to use this confidence building activity by practicing self-compassion and kindness with yourself. You’re going to talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend and it’s going to help you remember how amazing you truly are.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

As you continue to replace the words of your Inner Bully with the words of your Inner Cheerleader you’ll begin to notice the volume of your Inner Bully go down and you’ll be able to turn up the volume of your Inner Cheerleader. Over time the voice of your Inner Cheerleader will become a part of your inner Operating System. But in order for this to become truly a habit, you will need to practice to get good at noticing each time your Inner Bully rears its ugly head!

If you want further exercises to help you practice, check out the additional exercises I’ve developed featured in my book Leading Gracefully.Leading gracefully

With realization of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world. Dalai Lama

 

What Results Can You Expect?

I usually recommend at least three to six months to begin noting a shift in your inner dialogue. Be patient and realize that it’s taken you a lifetime to develop an Inner Bully, so it will take some time to undo that programming. But if you approach these exercises with the same dedication and discipline required to lose weight, learn a new language, or develop any habit, you’ll begin to see changes over time. The goal is to eventually turn down the volume on your Inner Bully and turn up the volume on feeling more self-confident, have more self-esteem, and more inner trust.

 

happy woman walking

 

As you complete these exercises:

  1. What do you notice?
  2. Does your Inner Bully become less loud?
  3. Are you feeling more confident?

Leave your comments in the feed below and share how these tools worked for you!

what is self-confidence

What is Self-Confidence and Why is It important for Women in Leadership – Part I

It is confidence in our body, mind and spirits that allow us to keep looking for new adventures. Oprah Winfrey

I speak to audiences of women as part of my day job at Highest Path Global (a boutique firm specializing in building future female leaders), and the one thing I hear all the time are women at all levels in their career dealing with a lack of self-confidence. I am always shocked to see so many hands go up when I ask the question: “how many of you in this room deal with the Imposter Syndrome,” no matter how accomplished, successful or experienced they may be. Luckily, this is one of the main topics of my book, Leading Gracefully: A Woman’s Guide to Confident, Authentic, & Effective Leadership, where I explore this topic in more depth and offer practical exercises and tools to combat the Imposter Syndrome.

For those of you who haven’t read my book, I want to break down why I think self-confidence is critical if you’re aiming to move forward in your career, start a new business, or interested in leveling up in some way in your life or career.

Let’s first start with defining what is self-confidence because you can’t have more of something if you aren’t sure what it really is in the first place.

What is Self-Confidence?

Confidence is what turns thoughts into action. Without it we hold ourselves back. We need it to get into action. And I describe self-confidence in two ways: a belief and a feeling.

Confidence is a belief we can create a successful outcome through our actions. In other words, when we are confident we believe we are good enough, we believe we have value to offer and those beliefs are what leads us to take action, for example to apply for a job, to ask for that promotion or move to another country (like yours truly!). 

confident woman on the pho

And confidence is also something we feel in our body – it can be hard to pinpoint, but it’s a feeling we have inside. For some, it could be a feeling of excitement or passion or a feeling of being calm or collected. Confidence is a feeling we experience within ourselves. 

So to understand confidence we have to look at both the mind and body for answers. 

Why is Confidence So Important?

For a long time there has been a commonly held belief among professional women that if you work hard that it would be enough to get ahead. I want to shatter this myth. The truth is, it is actually NOT enough to just be competent and perform well at your job. 

You need to be competent and confident to be successful. You need both!

But many women make the mistake of only focusing on proving themselves through their performance. They forget to take other actions necessary to increase their personal brand and exposure in an organization. 

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” E.E. Cummings

In order to increase your image and to gain exposure, you need to be able to go out of your comfort zone and build relationships with key decision makers. You need to be able to voice your opinions and speak up at meetings, give presentations and find ways to showcase your achievements. You need to be authentic and gain the trust of others. And here’s the thing: all of these things require you to be confident in yourself.

I know this first hand because I’ve dealt with a very strong Inner Bully myself and have had to overcome a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem to be able to step into my full potential. I used to be so afraid of saying the wrong thing and embarrassing myself, that I would literally just stay quiet during team meetings. My Inner Bully was so loud it would say things like, “You are too young to be in this job,” or “If you speak up, people will realize you’re a fraud.” So I would just sit there, not contributing my ideas and opinions.

woman giving presentation in office

And of course this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more I stayed quiet, the more people probably thought I had nothing to contribute of value. So my biggest fear actually came through! But it wasn’t because I said the wrong thing, it was because my Inner Bully convinced me that I wasn’t good enough.

Not feeling good enough is the biggest barrier to us following our dreams, making changes in our lives, and contributing our ideas to the world. With this lack of self-confidence, we hold ourselves back and stay stuck in our comfort zone, which eventually leads to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem and lack of drive and motivation.

How To Get into Action

In the next post, I share four practical ways you can begin to get a handle on your Inner Bully and start building self-confidence. These are tools I’ve used on myself to overcome my own fears and insecurities as well as with my clients who have all seen huge transformation in their lives and careers. I hope they will be helpful in helping you to improve your self-confidence to have more freedom, pursue your dreams, or take actions in your job that will make you shine in the eyes of others.

 

 

the devil wears prada movie scene

Ice Queen Syndrome – How Faux Confidence Can Hurt Women in Leadership

Queen Bee, the Ice Queen. We’ve all met one or worse yet, worked for one. I recently came across a slew of articles analyzing the role of the these characteristics in the office ecosystem. It’s a topic I’ve discussed at great length both in my book, Leading Gracefully and at speaking engagements across the US and abroad. So, why did these articles in particular catch my eye? They weren’t about the problems associated with being pegged as the Ice Queen, they were about embracing her!

Needless to say, I was shocked. Women have been forced into these stereotypes for decades because of discriminatory work environments, and that’s not a tradition I think we should embrace. As I began reading the arguments posed by pro-Ice Queen authors, I realized that the core of the argument in favor of being the most unapproachable person in the office was about exuding confidence.

Let’s get one thing straight: Women should not have to trade likeability for confidence.

I developed the Feminine Leadership Model based on leading with the ideal balance of our masculine and feminine traits, but confidence is neither. Women can embrace feminine qualities that make them kinder, more caring, and more empathetic – all the while carrying themselves with the kind of confidence that will get them the respect they deserve. And let’s be real, being icy and bitter only exudes faux confidence, at best. I teach my female clients that showing empathy, leveraging your vulnerability, and letting your colleagues know you care are all real ways to become a more effective leader. These methods are all antithetical to being the office Ice Queen, and lead to a healthier and more successful team dynamic.

Discriminatory and male-dominated work environments may be to blame for the existence of the Ice Queen stereotype but, by and large, the victims of the aggressive and bossy female leader are other women. And in fact, one of the top complaints I hear from my clients are stories of how their female bosses actively working to sabotage their career. Typically these are stories of female bosses who micro-manage which makes it difficult to gain the skills necessary to advance or don’t advocate on their behalf, limiting their visibility which hurts their chances for promotions. This practice hurts the overall cause for those of us who are interested in closing the gender leadership gap.

I believe it is vital for women to strengthen their professional relationships with each other in order to close this gender gap. Here’s a passage I include in Leading Gracefully: “When we become less judgemental, and more forgiving of women who may be slightly different than us, it can lead us to work better together – and give women the boost that they need to face the myriad other challenges they have to face in the workplace.”

Women in Leadership with Angela Mezzetti

I had the honor of being a featured guest on the Women in Leadership podcast with Angela Mezzetti. We had an in-depth discussion on how women can lean into their natural strengths, like using vulnerability as a strength, and how when we let go of the need to micro-manage and trust our team, how that can inspire creativity and innovation, some of the key ingredients to success in today’s competitive market. We also talk about the Queen Bee syndrome and how women have to do better at supporting one another and helping each other up the ladder.

Listen to the full interview here: http://womeninleadership.ie/2016/07/monique-svazlian-tallon-leading-gracefully/