Don’t Be Afraid to be Yourself – Advice for Women Executive

According to recent research published in the Telegraph women still only represent a sixth of senior executives at the largest listed British companies.

Over the course of their career women executive still earn £500,000 less than their male counterparts, may have something to do with it. This is despite 40 years of legislation demanding equality in the workplace.

So what’s going wrong?

There are many factors that influence the situation. Including a lack of role female models, challenging maternity and childcare, poor work life balance/flexibility at a senior level, fewer women in c-suite ‘feeder’ roles and a less effective network.

What can be done to change the situation?

Know and use your strengths

For many women the key factor is confidence and mindset – many simply don’t recognise their strengths and underestimate their competence.
My advice would be don’t try and fit into an idea of what you think a leader should be. Be true to who they are. Knowing yourself and your unique strengths is one of the keys to being confident. It is also essential if you want others to perceive you as being confident. Gallop have a great strength finder assessment if you’re struggling to identify your unique strengths. How long has it been since you last reviewed your skills, achievements, and strengths? writing them down can help you to understand what is it you bring to the party
The command and control school of leadership is dead. New leadership styles like servant leadership plays directly to women’s natural talents. Not wanting to generalise but, women naturally have greater soft skills that their male counterparts. Use these strengths to your advantage. Using your skills to motivate, engage, develop, grow and support your people, and the results will show for themselves.
We’re entering a ‘social age’ where positional authority alone will no longer cut it. This will only increase as more millennial enter the workforce. Over the last 5 year there has been a significant shift in how you build your reputation. The focus is now on authenticity, humility, trust, collaboration and mutually beneficial networks rather than hierarchical, command and control structures. Use this to your advantage.
Women Executive in need of executive coaching
Have a positive mind-set
Building a positive mindset can help in so many ways. From stress management to building the energy and resilience required to continually challenge the status quo. There are many ways of doing this. I like to use a mantras which is a positive statement that I repeat over and over to yourself especially when I get frustrated. The second is to spend 10 minutes each week to write a list and include:
* 3 things that have gone well
* 3 things to be grateful for
* 3 things that have made someone smile 
This isn’t just pink fluffy stuff – it is about forging neural pathways of positivity. It is about taking the time recognising the positive rather than the negative. This practice can also improve resilience when things don’t quite go as planned.
Understand the culture and values
How diverse is your organisation especially at the top?. Does the organisation you work for treat all employees with fairly? If not, you need to ask yourself what you are doing there.
Are your values aligned with the organisation’s values? Do you even know what your values are?. Being clear on what your values will build your self-efficacy and self-belief.
Everyone wants to work with a leader to ‘walk the talk’?

Seek feedback at every opportunity

Seek out as much feedback as you can, this can be a great way of continually learning and developing. Spend some time each day reflecting on your performance. Try not to only pick up on the negative. Personally I like asking the following questions
* What went well today?
* What did I learn today?
* Area for development
Keeping a journal / record of this feedback can be useful to keep track of and understanding where you are in relation to your career goals and what you need to work on.

Little voice in your head

What does that little voice inside your head say to you? How do you know what it says is true? Lots of us have negative self talk. If your sentence contains ‘should’ ‘ought’ ‘must’ then stop and ask yourself ‘is this really true? for example I should be able to do X, Y and Z? Beware of the pressure your self-limiting talk is putting you under.

None of us are perfect

We all have things we do and personality traits that are stopping us being more successful. Self-awareness is key in leadership. Spending time reflecting and looking at situations for other points of view are vital skills that must be learned.


Blow your own trumpet

Lots of women underplay their achievement. Blowing your own trumpet is isn’t about boasting or being arrogant. It’s about letting your organisation know you skills and how you can help to achieve goals. Finding a way to promoting your skills that you feel is comfortable for you in important. Don’t just assume that everyone knows you’re doing a good job.


Get out there, build contacts and share the love

Network, blog, speak, share knowledge and collaborate as wide as you can. Social media and the internet has made the world a smaller place. There are loads of people you can help and that can help you. You just have to get involved. This is also a great way to remain current and non-institutionalised.
I hope this post has helped and would love to hear your views on what has helped you. Please share using the comments below.

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