Developing Your Career


Four Expert Tips to Boost Self-Confidence

By Lee Hecht Harrison on March 19, 2015

As we celebrate March as Women’s History Month, it’s a great time to recognize not only the considerable contribution women have made in the workplace, but to examine challenges they may still face as they make their way up the corporate ladder. Women’s competence, experience and education have never been stronger; still, they lag far behind men in achieving top corporate positions. Recent Catalyst research indicates that women hold only 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO positions, despite comprising 52 percent of all workers employed in management, profession, and related occupations.

In their book, The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman examine why men are promoted faster, paid more and occupy more positions of power in organizations today. Through their interviews with successful women, a common theme emerged: women have a tendency to downplay their accomplishments and are less likely to negotiate salary or ask for the promotion they’ve earned.

Is a lack of confidence holding you back? Here are four steps you can take to start building self-assurance now.

  1. Embrace your fears. Confident people try to do something that scares them every week. They know fear is simply their mind’s way of telling them they’re stretching out of their comfort zone.
  2. Increase proficiency. Competence begets confidence, so assume responsibility for improving the skills you need for an executive position. Join your local Toastmasters group to improve communication skills.
  3. Set achievable goals. People sometimes have a tendency to set big, unrealistic goals that position them for failure. Setting smaller goals on a shorter timeline will produce a series of confidence-building small victories.
  4. Shift your internal dialogue. Stop telling yourself “This will never …” or “I can’t…”  Verbalizing negativity simply reinforces self-doubt.

To succeed as a leader in today’s workforce, confidence is as important as competence. And while many women are highly competent in their positions, a perceived lack of confidence could be the factor holding them back from the highest rungs on the corporate ladder.

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