Ditching Invisible Woman Syndrome

Ditching Invisible Woman Syndrome
February 8, 2017 Linda Murray

One of the most common challenges faced by many professional women (and men) is learning how to confidently stand out from the crowd and get the credit you deserve.  Unfortunately, some of us are our own worst enemy when it comes to breaking free from the “invisible woman syndrome”.

To receive recognition, you must first change your own mindset. You need enough self-assurance and confidence within yourself about your skills and abilities to speak out rather than waiting for your “turn” to be recognised.

Lack of confidence and self-esteem will hold you back

Our faith in ourselves is important to achieve the level of success we desire. We can have exceptional skills and abilities but, without self-belief, it’s impossible to muster the courage to try new things. Without belief in ourselves, we avoid the prospect of failure, simply by not trying.

As reported in an article in The Atlantic, numerous studies show women underestimate their abilities, while men tend to overestimate them. Lack of confidence is a significant obstacle that holds women back from achieving their peak performance and success. This lack of faith in skills and abilities prevents women from seeking greater leadership roles.

The lack of self-confidence is a handicap for women in most organisations, but it is an obstacle that we can overcome through changing mindset.

Increasing confidence and opportunities by changing your mindset

Here are a few strategies that executives and professional women (and men) can use to help change mindset, be authentic and achieve greater success.

Speak with authority

The first step to overcoming doubts is to learn how to speak with authority, and authenticity. Using a more confident posture when speaking allows you to calm nerves, command attention, and control the pace and tone of your voice.

  • Practice standing straight while relaxing the muscles in your neck and arms as you breathe into, and speak from, your own natural center of gravity. Your center should be located within an inch or two of your navel.
  • Stand comfortably and make eye contact with others as you speak, remembering to relax and smile, when appropriate.   When sitting, resist the temptation to curl inwards towards yourself. Don’t be afraid of taking up too much room, but relax, spread out, and control your physical space.
  • Avoid ending sentences as questions. To people listening and seeking your feedback and guidance, this can make you appear less confident, and your audience will mirror this self-doubt back to you.
  • Apologising for things that are not your fault. There are often things that are out of our control so only offer an apology when you have actually done something wrong.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to present alternative ideas that disagree with others. If you are interrupted when speaking, rather than responding with anger, try using humour to help you regain control of the conversation.

Identify your unique qualities and toot your own horn

Building your confidence takes time. To start the process of changing your mindset to become more confident and to ditch the invisible woman syndrome, you need to understand what makes you stand out from others. To identify those qualities that set you apart from others ask yourself;

  • What areas do you excel at?
  • What unique contributions have you made to your organisation?
  • What value do you add?

Once you’ve taken stock, don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. Let others know how your experiences and achievements make you the best choice to lead. Don’t let others take credit for your efforts and results. Speak up and be recognised.

By taking steps to proactively manage your image and reputation with others, especially decision makers within your organisation, you are more likely to be in their thoughts the next time a choice opportunity comes up.

Ask and you shall receive

Lack of confidence can be a hindrance when a new opportunity arises or when an opportunity to lead is presented. Often it leads us to wonder why we were passed over and someone with less experience, but has an abundance of confidence to ask, is selected.

If you know that a leadership position is opening up within your organisation, prepare a list of reasons why you are the best choice. Don’t be afraid to ask and tell the hiring manager about your interest.  If you are turned down, don’t stop trying. Continue to network within the company and seek new opportunities to practice your leadership skills.

Seek feedback

Finally, if we want to grow and achieve greater success, you must be willing to seek advice and feedback.

While some women are afraid to ask because they see it as a sign of failure, feedback is a great way to obtain objective advice. Look at feedback good or bad as a positive for you to grow and learn.

  • Seek feedback from your peers and other respected leaders within your organisation. Ask them to evaluate you on your strengths and help you discover areas you can work on.
  • If you have been passed over for a new challenge, go back to the decision maker to find out what areas you could improve on.
  • When asking for feedback, don’t just focus on areas that need improvement, ask for examples of when you have performed at your best or what you did well. This will allow you to receive positive reinforcement, which will help you to increase your confidence in your abilities!

Our faith in ourselves is important to the level of success we achieve, without self-belief, it’s impossible to muster the courage to try new things and step up. It’s time to step up, have courage and ditch the invisible woman!

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