There’s a confidence gap in the workplace. Research by KPMG has found that only 49% of women consider themselves to be confident. This is cause for action and focus. Confidence is critical to your success as a leader, especially if you’re a female.
Why is confidence so critical? A lack of confidence can impair women’s advancement potentials. KPMG research has revealed that 92% of females do not feel confident asking for sponsors, 76% do not feel confident asking for access to senior leadership, 73% do not feel confident pursuing a job opportunity beyond their experience, and 65% do not feel confident requesting a promotion.
Successful female leaders focus on developing high levels of confidence. They take on stretch
projects that will allow them to gain new skills and help them reach their potential. They seek
out mentors and organizational sponsors who can provide encouragement and constructive
feedback. When female executives have confidence in their own skills, they’re more likely to be
assertive and advocate for themselves, especially when it comes time for opportunities for
Fear not! Confidence is a learned skill and can be honed over time. In my work as an executive coach, I’ve seen time and time again that confidence is best gained through a ‘fake it till you make it’ mindset. The best first step to sporting a new more confident skin is to tweak your body language. Here are 4 simple tips to help you gain confidence.
Your smile says a lot about you. An inviting smile is a key sign of a confident smile. It lets others know that you’re approachable and comfortable in your own skin. Smiling also slows your heart rate and releases endorphins that can reduce stress and leave you feeling more confident. So, show off those pearly whites!
Your posture says a lot about your confidence. Stand up straight and tall. Don’t slouch. Engage your core and relax your shoulders. Make sure your feet are well-balanced and approximately hip-width apart. If you’re sitting, make sure your rear is touching the back of the chair and your feet are firmly planted on the floor. Good posture will ensure you maintain proper breathing and allow your organs to function at peak levels.
3. Use hand gestures
Confident leaders use hand gestures. When you’re communicating, use hand gestures to help your audience visualize what you’re saying. Don’t fidget, instead use natural movements that effectively emphasize key points.
4. Eye contact
Scores of research have confirmed the power of eye contact. Maintaining it with others is a clear signal that you’re confident, trustworthy, and likeable. Breaking eye contact can signal a lack of interest, lack of respect, or that you’re uncomfortable in your own skin.
Far too many female executives fail to reach their professional potential. KPMG’s research revealed that the majority (76%) of women wish they had learned more about leadership and had assumed more leadership opportunities earlier in life. Fortunately, it’s never too late to develop and hone your leadership skills. Body language is the first step to finding a new more confident you.
Regardless of your gender, an executive coach can help you bridge the confidence gap and equip you with the skills, tools, and tactics to strengthen your leadership abilities. This coaching toolkit can act as a metaphorical wrecking ball with the strength to destroy glass ceilings. Amen to no more floppy handshakes!
Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders and has dedicated her career to helping them.
As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’. amazon.com/author/nadinegreiner