One of the biggest challenges women face is building up confidence. For example:
- Being comfortable with who you are
- Being clear on your purpose and what you are trying to achieve
- Knowing the values that will help and hinder you
You might already have a seat at the table, but that isn’t enough. You have to be confident to speak up and make your presence known as a leader.
This is one trump card that women have over men, we are awesome communicators.
It doesn’t matter who you are communicating with, employers, co-workers or clients – open communication systems (both formal and informal) help produce clarity especially when done regularly, clearly and efficiently.
Louise Wood a Service Director in Cornwall Council, has been a client of mine for 5 years. She has risen quickly through the ranks in the council, down to her sharp intellect, intuition, her ability to use help well, and a strong motivation to do the best for the people of Cornwall.
Read the following account of her reflections as a leader so far:
“My name is Louise Wood I am currently Service Director for Planning at Cornwall Council. This means that at the tender age of 40 with a husband and two small people in tow I am responsible for over 15,000 planning decisions a year and some 300 people. If you asked me 3 years ago what I would be doing, it isn’t this! Thats not to say I’m not ambitious, driven and committed to doing my best for Cornwall the place I’m from and love. But that sometimes a chain of events catapult you into opportunities that you should grasp no matter how scary.
I’ve had a rapid promotion from being a staff member to leader. Self-belief takes time, you suddenly worry that you need to know everything and that everyone around you already does. But when you find a way to get to know some peers (that’s the trick, find a course that runs over a period of time with a cohort) and scratch the surface you realise everyone is in the same boat. What is calm on the outside is often not on the inside. Dealing with my inner voice has been my biggest battle, looking around in awe and wondering why you are there has been frequent but is lessoning. I’m learning to trust my instinct and believe in my decisions. Not everything will work but lots will, don’t be afraid to try. Getting some help is invaluable: a coach, a mentor and some group sessions led by a skilled facilitator like Emma will move your team forward.
My biggest gripe over the last 3 years is the need for woman to support women. There are too many male dominated consultant filled rooms for us not to do this. Working mothers are not bad, they are doing their best for their families. One of my most heart warming moments is a female colleague with a young child saying she applied for a promotion because of a talk I gave. If I can inspire just a few people, my job will be done. Thanks for listening, it means a lot.”