We all spend a lot of our time communicating, whether it is written, verbal or face-to-face. In a corporate environment it is vital to have an impact when you communicate, which is sometimes easier said than done when hierarchy and politics are in the mix.
The use of technology now plays a big role in how we communicate, with more meetings taking place online via telephone or video conferencing. Whilst making life easier for participants, they can reduce an individual’s impact inadvertently.
Whilst not exclusively a female challenge, women are known to face more issues around personal impact, confidence and self-presentation…particularly in male dominated environments.
Research also tells us that women’s careers suffer due to lower self-confidence, greater family responsibilities and fear of failure. I know that women face challenges on a daily basis, challenges that largely go unspoken because they aren’t deemed to be important by the men they are surrounded by. Challenges such as not being seen or heard in meetings and being overlooked for promotions for their lack of so called ‘gravitas’.
During my career I continually received feedback that to get ahead I would need to have more gravitas. Not sure of what this really meant, I went through major crises of confidence, convinced that it was my blonde hair colour holding me back, or the fact I wore too much make-up, or the colour of my clothes. Eventually through working hard on improving my self-belief and confidence, plus getting practical help with how to present and talk with impact (aka gravitas) I made it to the boardroom table.
I know I am not alone in these experiences – at one time I led a team of 130 people around the country, the majority of whom were women and they all had similar stories. They lacked confidence to be themselves at work, they felt supressed and that they needed to fundamentally change who they were in order to be taken more seriously in their career. And that was in an organisation that massively supports and champions women, so imagine what it is like elsewhere?
In my experience, confidence grows out of knowing yourself, understanding how other people see you, and adopting some simple tools and techniques which help you have greater impact. Through my blog www.ladderclimbinginheels.com I share stories and advice for women climbing the corporate ladder. Here I help women with practical advice and guidance on how to communicate effectively whilst staying authentic and true to yourself.