A few blogs ago, I wrote about the importance of self-confidence -- and how women often have a harder time owning their achievements.
Over the past few months, high-powered female execs like Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook) and Marissa Mayer (Yahoo) have been all over the news. I’ve written about Ms. Sandberg’s assertion that women need to take a larger place in the top levels of corporations nationwide, and some of the reasons why they might not.
I agree with her belief that it’s not so much about the "glass ceiling," but women’s own insecurities that are holding us back. Now, a new study conducted in the U.K. and reported on MSN living bears that out. The article, "Working Women Held Back by Lack of Confidence," cites a Head and Shoulders commissioned study (yes, that Head and Shoulders) of 2,000 British career women.
A startling 92 percent of them admitted having confidence-killing hang-ups. Seventeen percent admitted they did not have the confidence to ask for a promotion!
Perhaps no one will be surprised to hear that the most common self-esteem issue is a woman’s appearance. In a society where beauty is paramount and women are often still judged as objects, this is not really anything new. The fact that appearance insecurities actually keep women from moving ahead, however, is a really sad commentary on our superficial society.
A full 48 percent of women thought that they’d be further along in their careers if they could only shed their lack of confidence.
So, that begs the question, how can they?
Obviously, we cannot add something to the water that will build confidence in an entire segment of the population.
It seems to me that confidence-building is one of the fundamental building blocks of both personal and professional development.
There are many ways of going about it, but it’s something that each woman (and yes, sometimes even men!) must do for herself. If you need more confidence to move ahead in your chosen field, to make your mark, to ask for and receive that promotion, to "play with the big boys" – well then, it’s up to you to take the necessary steps, give yourself the necessary education, and learn the necessary ingredients.
There’s nothing new about any of this. It’s a topic that comes up in every generation since women hit the work force in earnest. I remember many years ago reading a great book called Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.
So, fellow professional female leaders and leaders-to-be, what are we going to do about it?
There are many things a woman can do, simple things, to have more confidence in her appearance. One of them is remembering the basics of appropriate business wardrobe and grooming -- including a polished haircut and makeup. Looking one’s best gives an automatic confidence boost. Why not pick up a good book on dressing for success? The bookstore shelves are loaded with them.
I’d also like to recommend my own book, Career MAGIC: A Woman’s Guide to Reward and Recognition. In it, I share strategies that have worked for more than 30 highly successful female executives in a variety of industries. This hardcover book will encourage any businesswoman to break through barriers to achieve their goals.