Lynn Morrison, Marketing Director at Opus Energy, knows this feeling exactly. “As someone who recently stepped up into a board role, I know first-hand how exciting and challenging the move can be,” she said. “On one hand, you’re thrilled to be recognised for your leadership skills, but on the other, you can’t help but wonder whether you’re deserving of a seat at the table.”
This feeling isn’t uncommon – two-thirds of women in the UK suffer from imposter syndrome at work, putting their success down to luck rather than talent and qualifications, and leaving them feeling like a fraud. But how do we get beyond these feelings? For those who don’t exude confidence naturally, there are ways to teach yourself to be more self-assured – Lynn has teamed up with the business experts from online advice and information hub Brighter Business to give us her best tips for feeling confident as a female leader in the workplace.
1. Find Your Tribe
I discovered the value of the ‘tribe’ back when I was a new parent. Finding others who immediately understood exactly what I was going through made a huge difference. I could share successes and crowd-source ideas on overcoming challenges. And it’s no different in the workplace – spending time with people in your industry, or just in the same place career-wise, can be a great confidence booster. I often test-drive pitches for new budget funding or plans for managing difficult stakeholders with these people. It is a failsafe way to get feedback and ensures that I can put my best foot forward. Finding your tribe is incredibly valuable.
2. Acknowledge Good Work When You See It
No one makes it to the top on their own. Behind every great executive is a strong team of smart and capable people who help get projects over the line, and it’s important to recognise them for the role they play in your company’s success. It reminds them that each individual success is a win for the entire team. And who doesn’t love being recognised for their work? Praising your employees gives them a boost in both confidence and morale. When your team feels appreciated, they are more inclined to work hard the next time you ask.
3. Recognise Your Own Good Work, Not Just Your Employees’
How often do you downplay a compliment? Are you doing the same thing in the workplace? Take your well-deserved credit when projects go right. Remember that strong leadership, clear ideas and guidance all play a key role in getting the job done. And don’t hesitate to highlight your successes both in private and in the boardroom – next time someone praises your work, resist the urge to make out as if it wasn’t a big deal. It can be tough to reject the impulse but start out by simply saying “Thank you”. It gives you ownership of your success and acknowledges your compliment-giver. Plus, it’s always nice to be nice.
4. Fake It ’Til You Make It
No one needs to know that you’re doubting yourself. In fact, most people will assume that you know what you’re doing and are making conscious choices for things to happen a certain way. After all, how many times have you admired someone’s career from afar, assuming they have everything under control, only to end up in a similar position and realise they were probably winging it just as much as you? Act the part, pretend you are confident, and soon you’ll notice that it’s not that much different from actually being confident.
5. Your Knowledge Is Your Power
You’ve most likely spent years building up your experience and expertise, earning the credentials needed for a leadership role. Think of this experience as a valuable resource that’s only accessible to you, because it really is one of your USPs as a leader. Call on your knowledge, implement it when looking for creative solutions to problems and don’t be afraid to share your opinion. Providing fact-based recommendations is a great way to earn the respect of your peers and remind yourself of your own skill set at the same time.
6. View Your Femininity As A Strength, Not A Weakness
Women have an innate ability to give care – it is what makes us great mothers. Those same skills are equally useful in the business world. Pull upon your natural abilities to rally colleagues around a common purpose and to champion initiatives which show employees that you care. It’s a myth that business leaders need to be cold and free of empathy to be successful. Make a point of recognising what you have in your arsenal and then find out how to use these personal skills as tools to help you hit your targets. Purpose-led businesses see greater sustainable growth and success.
7. Think Positive
It may seem trite, but the power of positive thinking is surprisingly effective. As a leader, colleagues will look to you for an indication of how things are going. Showing confidence in your own abilities and in those of your team can be just the inspiration people need to get big projects over the line. Positivity breeds positivity, and negativity breeds negativity – there’s a reason why the most successful people on the planet surround themselves with equally successful, optimistic individuals. Be the show of strength for your team, and their confidence will follow.
8. Look To Leaders Who Inspire
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take a page from someone else’s book – literally. Read the books and blogs of thought leaders who inspire you and are in the business of making you a better businesswoman. It can be easy to feel like you’re on your own when you’re at the top of the ladder, but no human is an island. No matter how few people there are above you, there are always others, perhaps in entirely different industries, who you can look to for inspiration or guidance to continue your personal growth. Check out this list of essential business books for starters.
For more business tips, guidance and information, visit BrighterBusiness.co.uk