There was an article in The Times last week discussing women’s confidence – or lack thereof – irrespective of how accomplished and high-achieving they are. Based on Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s book, “The Confidence Code”, (published in the UK on May 8), it outlined the five derailers that permeate women’s thinking:
- Thinking too much (especially about the things that are in the past)
- Carrying around criticism for too long
- Staying in their comfort zones
- Failing to voice their opinions
- Failing to take risks (because of the risk of failure)
We’ve got the book on pre-order at Kissing With Confidence, because it rang loads of bells for us with regard to the issues that come up in our coaching work with women, even those in senior positions.
Interestingly, literally as I’ve been typing this, Woman’s Hour is on Radio 4 in the background. Today it’s being guest-edited by Dame Kelly Holmes, and she’s been part of a small panel discussing women’s confidence. The psychologist and coach on the panel, Averil Leimon, has just said that “Women are atrocious at confidence.” She is right. Women do well and attain senior positions, but the agonies that they often put themselves through to get there are exhausting.
Just over a year ago, my colleague Michael and I spoke to 130 women in the City about the gender gap in organisations. Despite plentiful research that shows women and men are just as intelligent, and equal (if not greater) numbers of women enter the professions, women leave, or opt out of senior positions in greater numbers than men do. It’s not down to lack of intelligence or ability. Sometimes it’s about a lack of appropriate role models, organisations that pay lip-service to flexible working, or the practicalities of being both primary bread-winner and care-giver. Often it’s all wrapped up in a lack of self-belief. We looked at how to tackle our “gremlins” ie the self-limiting voice that we all have, which isn’t rational, but which can be managed, in order to have a happier, more productive and more confident life. It’s an ongoing process, but it does get easier if you know how.
Our work with women often focuses on how to overcome the five points listed above. Don’t get me wrong – men suffer from these things too, but are often better at acknowledging the learning and moving on.
Are you a woman who would like to tackle some of your “gremlins”, or do you work with one who would? If so, give us a call.
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about the author
Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.