Nancy Fredericks pens Women Lead Change's "Mindful Mondays" column, appearing the second Monday of every month. Fredericks is a preeminent Business Executive Strategist, Author and Thought Leader. Corporations like Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Adobe, Allergan and Transamerica have retained her to optimize individual and organizational performance. You can find her at www.CareerStretchZone.com. The views of Nancy Frederick's blogs represent her own and not necessarily the views of Women Lead Change.
Recently, I was coaching a professional executive well respected by her boss. She just wasn’t viewed as a high-potential by C-suite leaders—and she didn’t understand why. After all, she is an exemplary executive.
I gave her an exercise to help her understand what she’s unwittingly leaving on the table. Why don’t you try it yourself? Perhaps, you too, are harming your career without knowing it.
Envision a leader who you know and admire. How does he or she greet people? How does this leader stand? How does he or she look at people? Imagine vividly this praiseworthy executive interacting with you and your co-workers. Take time to saturate yourself in the essence of the leader you esteem.
Now, close your eyes, and mentally imagine living inside this leader’s ‘beingness.’ Do you feel any different? In your mind’s eyes, how do you shake hands with those you meet as you wear the energy of this leader? Are you holding your body a bit more erect? Are your eyes gazing more directly into the eyes of others? Do you feel a tad bolder in your approach?
Is there a disparity between how you present yourself and how this leader acts?
If you’re like my client, you immediately feel a discrepancy. And the mismatch you experience is all the confidence and power you give up every day with each interaction and in all the meetings you attend.
As a women executive, you’re relating to the business world through your feminine cultural norms. United States researchers recently listed the most important attributes associated with “being feminine” in part as showing modesty by not calling attention to one’s talents or abilities.
Umm, can you see the problem for women in companies? Business was created 100’s of years ago by men. Even today this fundamental gender framework influences how organizations assess leadership capacity. External evidence of confidence is a vital component of a leader’s presence and as a woman, you believe you need to show modesty.
You think this can’t possibly be what is holding you back. It is.
In fact, confidence is just as significant an element of the success equation as competency.
Check it out:
Don’t allow confidence to be the factor that holds you back from being all you are intended to be. This is one equation that rests in your hands.