The current business climate is making it tough on everyone. The state of affairs is compounded for successful business women who still feel impacted by lack of opportunities based upon their gender. But the reality is that we have limited control over the business conditions or these gender disparities. Female leaders alone can’t grow the economy alone or fix diversity problems.
They can complain and get side-tracked or maybe take a different look at the problems. To start turning these concerns into opportunities for success. The challenges are real but we wonder if sometimes our reactions to such events tend to be more significant and do more to hold us back than anything else.
Even in the best of times, corporate women or women CEOs in particular face many common obstacles such as poor work-life integration, lower self-confidence to advance themselves and limited organizational help and support to help them be more successful.
Female leaders tend to be much more restrained than men when it comes to self-promotion. But the reality is to be successful, the right amount and type of self-promotion is critical. And who will do it if they don’t do it for themselves? You certainly do not want to (and should not) go unnoticed for your efforts. And while you can’t change overnight, there are a few ways for women leaders to develop the self-confidence to push through this challenge.
The first step is an honest evaluation of what you do well and what you don’t do well. If you are like most successful business women the evidence is there that you have done some things well to get you to where you are. Why did your successes occur? What did you do well? How could you replicate them? Take a look at your curriculum vitae to determine how your experiences helped created who you are. Once you have a better understanding of your background in the right context, you may start to view your experiences in a better light.
By focusing on your successes you’ll begin to approach each day in a position of strength and view challenges as a new opportunity to learn. Your work will improve, your confidence is likely to grow and your ability to self-promote yourself in the right way will grow too. Not something that will happen overnight, but with a daily commitment, perhaps a verbal affirmation recited daily, the changes will become apparent to you and everyone that you work with.
Most successful business women (and men) struggle with work-life integration. We’ve given up calling it work-life balance because there is no such thing. It’s in truth how can you successfully mix all the various aspects of your life – work, family and leisure to feel successful and achieve your goals and aspirations. The first step we recommend for female leaders is just to sit down and rank your priorities. Look at how you typically spend most of your days. What do you enjoy the most? The least? These questions and their answers will offer some important clues as to what your priorities have been and could be going forward.
Then ask yourself – Do I feel energized most of the time. If so, your priorities are likely right on. If you don’t feel energized than you may not have the right priorities. Your lack of effective integration of your work, life, family and leisure is not positively impacting your life.
Once you have answered these questions, you should spend some time to lay out a realistic plan for yourself. You may not like the answers or wish that they were different, but you may not have any other choice. Living in this situation is not an effective long-term outline for anyone. Unchecked it could lead to split up, health issues, poor relations, lack of advancement and even termination.
The barriers are there and significant. Things are changing but at a glacial rate. You can sit back and wait or take matters into your own hands. Developing the self-confidence to promote yourself and having positive energy from a workable and supportive work-life integration can propel to you to career heights and business success that you never dreamed about. Good luck getting there and joining the ranks of the growing number of women CEOs and corporate women who are getting there.