Filling the Confidence Chasm: Tips for Women for Improving Confidence in the Workplace

With Theresa May moving into 10 Downing Street and Hillary Clinton close to becoming the first woman President of the United States, you’d think that women would be more confident than ever. But as BBC-America anchor Katty Kay puts it, there is still a confidence “chasm” between men and women when it comes to the workplace.

Last week Katty keynoted AARP’s “2016 Women’s Leadership Forum: Cracking the Confidence Code” and shared research and insights from her New York Times best-seller, The Confidence Code, co-authored by Claire Shipman. Manar Morales, Alliance President & CEO, joined a panel of women CEOs to provide her expertise on women’s leadership as well as her personal insights on starting her own company, building her confidence, and achieving her goals.

We need to bring our perception of our ability in line with our actual ability. Katty launched the program with an explanation of how differently women and men approach confidence in the workplace. Women apply for a job when they know they have 100% of the skills, men apply when they know they have 60% of the skills! She added that women attribute their success to external factors, but blame themselves when something goes wrong. Katty urged women to stop holding back because of a lack of confidence and to redefine talent to include confidence.

Think less. Act more. Be authentic. According to Katty’s research the biggest hurdle women face is perfectionism. Women need to stop trying to be perfect, take more chances, and stop underestimating their abilities. Katty’s advice: don’t overthink, act more but always remain authentic to who you are.

You have to set your intention and commit to a certain vision. Manar explained how she knew she wanted to create her own company and committing to that vision helped to boost her confidence and to make her own path. “You commit to your vision and the ‘how’ will come,” she said. Manar added that you should always be proud of who you are and what you bring to the table.

Women can have it all, you just don’t have to do it all by yourself. Manar highlighted the importance of negotiating at home and at work when trying to balance a career and family. Men can help by being equal partners at home and at work. She added that it’s important to decide how you as a woman add value in your career and at home and then focus on these specific goals. Don’t underestimate the importance of surrounding yourself with positive support.

Women’s leadership and the advancement of women is not a women’s issue, it’s a talent issue. Clearly women bring a unique perspective and companies that employ more women are more profitable. Manar emphasized how important it is for men in corporations and organizations of all kinds to recognize their role in the advancement of women. Men have to come to the table as much as women on these issues for there to be a change in corporate culture to one where women leaders are fully embraced and supported.

The forum was moderated by Adriana Mendoza, Associate State Director for AARP California. Other presenters included Loida Nicolas-Lewis, Chair & CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC and Patricia Hill, CEO of Bay State Computers, Inc, who also shared their personal insights and advice on overcoming hurdles and making the best career decisions. Both of these CEOs lost their husbands and business partners suddenly and attributed their strength and confidence when thrown into a position of company leadership to faith and support from others. Their words of advice: women must think positively, support each other, face our fears, celebrate our differences, and learn from our mistakes.

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