Confidence is a dynamic characteristic to have in any work setting. It’s a trait that comes naturally to men, but for some women, self-assurance may be a little harder to grasp. Women usually struggle with speaking up in the workplace and may be hesitant to let their work skills take center stage. It’s an issue that often leaves women scratching their heads, wondering how they can get their confidence in check.
Accenture, which ranks at No. 15 on DiversityInc’s Top 50 List for 2015, may have the answers for any woman who is trying to figure out how to improve her confidence in the workplace, as well as the confidence of her fellow coworkers.
Nellie Borrero, Global Managing Director of Inclusion & Diversity at Accenture, recently sat down with BBC World News anchor Katty Kay during a webinar titled Leading with Confidence where the two discussed the steps women should take to enhance their confidence in the workplace. Both women shared invaluable advice on how women can advocate not only for themselves with confidence but for others as well.
What is Confidence?
The ladies agreed that women tend to shy away from showing too much confidence in the workplace because they don’t want to be labeled as being too aggressive, especially in a male dominated office. Kay said women shouldn’t worry about the labels, though, and defined confidence as being “the stuff that turns thoughts into action.” It’s a practical quality that Kay suggests career women should include in their daily lives, which admittedly takes courage.
However, Kay noted that a fine line exists between confidence and courage. She explained that women’s perception of their ability usually skews lower than their actual ability. She cited a study conducted by Columbia University that concluded men tend to “overestimate” their ability by approximately 30 percent, while women routinely “underestimate” their ability. This is where the confidence gap between men and women resides.
So how do you shrink that gap? Kay suggests that women need to change their thought process. They first need to place their perceived ability inline with their actual ability. Once that is accomplished, then women who lack confidence will be able to perform with more confidence.
Borrero and Kay explained that there are a few key points critical to building confidence in women. They suggest the following:
• Try new things
• Go outside of your comfort zone
• Meet and overcome new challenges
• Master a subject
Borrero added that it’s important for women to go through a checklist of themselves. “Take a look at your degree you earned in college, the skills you developed over the years throughout your career, and be happy with the fact that you rarely screwed up,” advised Borrero. “You were hired because you have the skill sets that we need.”
“Confidence is about recognizing your abilities and taking action even when you’re nervous,” Kay noted. “Women have so much talent and ability, we just need them to be able to promote themselves.”
To hear the confidence discussion in its entirety, log into Accenture Women’s Network and click on the Accenture Defining Success Forum: Leading with Confidence: Advocating for yourself and others.