Along with other members of ICF-SF Bay Area Coaches, I recently had the honor to provide Spotlight Coaching sessions to attendees of the Watermark Lead On Silicon Valley Conference for Women.
Many of the women wanted help with taking the next step in their career. They were all clearly smart, accomplished, and had a clear vision of where they wanted to go.
While they presented a variety of challenges, what eventually emerged was the same issue I’ve encountered with many of my clients . . . a nagging sense of self-doubt.
They were self-assured and confident in their current position, but had a hard time projecting that confidence into the future. Do they know enough? Are they strong enough? Is there some missing piece they need, but don’t know what it is?
Stuck in a Catch 22, many women believe they are capable of being a leader, but also believed they have to prove it in some way before they have the right to ask for an opportunity to actually be a leader on a higher level.
I couldn’t help but think of a friend of mine, a marketing expert who’s worked with many entrepreneurs and corporate clients. She told me that across the board, men overestimate what they are capable of and women underestimate what they are capable of.
So, what to do?
The first thing I recommend is to get out of your head and start embodying your value.
The world of business is primarily a mental one. Intellect and education are highly valued, and feelings and non-business related life experience are not. Even with the recognition of the importance of Emotional Intelligence, it is still called a “soft skill.”
What I’d like to see needed more of in leadership are the very skills and qualities women can bring to the table – combining their smarts with intuition, caring for others, and big picture awareness and thinking.
You are not just your resume; you are the sum total of your life experience. So, it behooves you to acknowledge all that you do, and the different aspects of yourself, as valuable parts of a whole person.
I recommend that you make a list of ALL your skills, talents, training, degrees, capabilities, achievements and important life experiences. If you are a female over the age of eight, you’ve had crap to deal with. Write down the challenges you’ve overcome and how you did it.
List every talent you have, no matter how obscure or unrelated it is to your chosen field. I have a talent for quickly whipping up a meal with whatever is in the kitchen. At work, this skill translates as the ability to think on my feet and see possibilities. I’m also good at dealing with obscure challenges, like how to get the earring that dropped behind the heavy dresser without moving it. The core skill is the ability to look at things with a fresh eye. One of my favorite phrases I hear from clients is, “I never thought of it that way.” My husband says I’m a “good thinker.”
What are you good at?
When you integrate your skills, talents, and life experience into your sense of self, you can feel yourself as a unified being and present yourself with a more powerful presence.
Being present will also support your ability to think at your highest capability, be your most creative, and deal with other people more skillfully.
The next time you are about to walk into your boss’s office, an interview for a new job, or an important meeting, take time to embody your value. Take a few slow breaths as you sense your value flowing through your body. Feel your feet on the ground, put your hands on your hips, chin up, and tell yourself, “I belong here.”
It’s time women step up and claim the ability to engage and lead others in ways that are in alignment with your perspectives and values. The world of business needs you. The world needs you.