“People who consider themselves the most confident experience self-doubt and fear just like everybody else. What sets them apart is that they won’t let these negative thoughts hold them back.” (Forbes)
In this issue of the Pulse newsletter, The WICT Network spoke with two chapter leaders about building confidence and the importance of embracing both successes and failures. Learn how these women are moving forward by building their networks, investing in their own development and sharing their accomplishments.
Building Confidence Within
Facing adversity develops confidence, which is a trait that you can continue to cultivate over time. According to La Tarsha Simmons, President of The WICT Network: Greater Chicago Chapter, there are several key points that have helped her strengthen her resilience.
- “[I have chosen] to be a lifelong learner by staying connected and forever growing.
- It’s important that I put effort into building my network. Having an effective network has helped me become comfortable with speaking to people in higher positions. I have been able to attend networking events, diversify my circle and lift others up in the process.
- I don’t get discouraged by ‘no.’ My setbacks are opportunities to grow.
- I am an optimist and have found that having a positive attitude does wonders.”
Building confidence isn’t always an easy task, says Lori Jackson, Director of Membership GA and AL for The WICT Network: Southeast Chapter.
“Having resilience is difficult sometimes. I am a highly empathetic person, and the downside is that I tend to absorb others’ emotions,” Jackson explains. “Because of this, I have learned to be conscious of those times and ensure I recognize it enough to shake it off.”
Both Simmons and Jackson agree that having self-confidence and believing in your abilities as a leader will aid in your future success. “Even the most successful, powerful and accomplished women (and men, too) have been unsure of themselves at one point or another.” Read more tips from The New York Times on overcoming impostor syndrome.
Research tells us that women tend to be collaborative leaders, and “are more likely to acknowledge others, solicit opinions, actively listen, and take turns contributing.” Source: Boston Consulting Group
Jackson says she has a more collaborative leadership style and believes in ensuring every voice is heard. “Unfortunately, this is not always seen as a beneficial style,” she says. In fact, Harvard Business Review tells us that this style can sometimes lead to burnout and “collaboration overload” without a well-balanced approach.
Meanwhile, Simmons classifies herself as a servant leader. “I’m here to help my team, in fact ‘how can I help’ is a tag line that resonates with me. My job is to serve my team, and by doing so, we all succeed.”
Both offer suggestions on ways to strengthen your leadership. Jackson recommends reading, attending seminars and most importantly, surrounding yourself with high performing women leaders. Simmons has a similar list of recommendations, which include:
- Developing empathy to help build relationships.
- Investing in self-development by continuing to learn and grow.
- Embracing failure, which encourages free thinking.
Prepare Yourself for Advancement
Going after a promotion can be daunting and lead to feelings of self-doubt. Fortunately, there are ways women can prepare themselves. The WICT Network’s chapter leaders explain how getting to the next level can be challenging and offer their ideas for moving forward.
“I’ve found that men are typically judged on their potential, while women aren’t. A lot of the time women are judged on their past experience, while their potential is undervalued,” Simmons explains.
Jackson says that it can be difficult to advance in your career based on who is currently part of the inner circle. “It’s not easy because we [as women] are not normally within the circle of trusted individuals [in high level positions].” Editor’s note: Finding a sponsor can open the door to new opportunities. Learn more here.
“I recently interviewed for a promotion. When I made it to the final round, the first thing the hiring manager said to me was that I was not on his radar, further meaning that he had not really heard of me before that point,” explains Jackson.
Preparation is vital when it comes to professional advancement.
“To prepare, women can continue educating themselves, being more direct, networking, and having mentors or sponsors in positions that they desire,” says Simmons.
“Yes, creating a community of mentors is a great way to advance. Those that currently have influence, but also those who may not. Therefore, we must take advantage of who we know,” Jackson shares.
Don’t Hesitate to Embrace Success
“Sometimes as women, we have to be uncomfortable in order to be comfortable. Although change can be scary, I encourage all women to ask themselves what would happen if they didn’t pursue an opportunity,” Simmons says. “Sometimes not making a decision is making a decision.”
Jackson has a similar message to those who are skeptical about embracing what lies ahead.
“We need to come from a place of understanding on what great leadership looks like, acts like, and sounds like. Then, we can compare where we stand against that model and fill in any gaps,” Jackson explains. “Those questioning their next move should create a community of mentors and ask for what they want, as we often don’t ask enough and assume people will see the great work we do and give it to us. Besides, what is the worst they can say – no?”