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Posts Tagged "career advancement"

Empowering Women Through Self Esteem and Self Efficacy for Professional Advancement

Posted on March 13th, 2013 by julie

Early in my career, a very successful middle aged woman came to see me for coaching. I must admit, after listening to her list of achievements – she was very well educated and held a high position in a company -I truly wondered why she was coming to see me. Then she told me that her life was a lie and she was terrified that her staff would find out how low her self esteem really was and how afraid she felt every day of her life

Over the years, I learned this was an extremely common problem.  Although some people seemed able to reach a certain level of success, they felt inadequate and knew that they were not truly reaching their full potential. Others were always held back by issues of self esteem and self belief

One study by a Sydney woman shows that when women are confused about their identity, at any level of leadership, they may have trouble advancing in their career

According to Suzi Skinner, a Sydney based business coach of SelfTalk who  conducted a three-year study on women in leadership that was supported by the Institute of Coaching at Harvard University, many women are confident about their ability to do their own job but question their leadership ability

Although there has been an increase in the number of female directors from 8 per cent in 2010 to 9.7 per cent in 2012, this still means the split is 90-10 in favour of men

Suzi explains, “the research I did showed that when it comes to leadership identify, we have been great at recognising a skills-based approach is important but not so good at recognising the importance of knowing how a person views themselves in that role. This is the area that I feel really needs developing if we are to have more successful female senior managers.”

Self esteem and self efficacy have an important part to play in women’s leadership identity and empowerment within the workforce

In looking at self esteem and self efficacy as a means of empowerment for professional advancement, let’s start by gaining an understanding of some terms:

Self image is about how we see ourselves.

Self esteem is about how we feel about ourselves.

Self worth is about the value we place upon ourselves.

Self belief is the trust that we place in our own abilities.

Self respect is about how we treat ourselves.

Self efficacy is defined by Albert Bandura as a belief in our own ability to succeed and our ability to achieve the goals we set ourselves

This belief has a huge impact on our approach to goal setting and our behavioural choices as we work toward those goals

According to Bandura’s research, high self-efficacy results in an ability to view difficult goals as a challenge, whereas people with low self-efficacy would likely view the same goals as being beyond their abilities, and might not even attempt to achieve them

So what are the benefits of high self esteem and self efficacy?

  • They contribute to how much effort a person puts into a goal in the first place, and how much she perseveres despite setbacks.
  • They increase self confidence which in turn engenders behaviours that will more likely lead to success in the workplace
  • With an increased comfort zone we experience less fear which means a greater willingness to give new things a go
  • Increased self confidence increases our resilience to not run from a challenge and not give up when the going gets tough which is one of the major factors in success
  • With high self esteem comes not only the feeling of being approved by others but also much more importantly, we approve of ourselves

So how do we increase self esteem, self efficacy and self confidence and enjoy all the above benefits at home and work?

The bad news is there is no quick fix to issues of low self esteem and self efficacy

The good news is that self confidence can be learned but it does take some effort.  I remember when I told this to a young client looking for career advancement. She looked incredulously at me and asked “I thought you only had to set goals and do the work for things such as career and finance?” This young person was unwilling to put in a little bit of work to change how she thought and felt and ultimately change her outcomes

In writing this article, I’ve really struggled to answer this question? I want to give readers “tips” but I also don’t want to trivialize what I truly believe to be one of the most important topics for us all.

Self belief is a little like pain – when pain is absent we do not even notice it but when present, it occupies our every thought. When self belief is strong we step out with confidence, when it is low life can be extremely difficult and achieving our goals virtually impossible

So here are a few things that I have found worked to help women increase their self esteem and empower themselves:

  • Raise your self awareness about specific ways you think and act. You can only change specifics not generalities so initially take some time to think this through
  • Put a gap between a situation and your response. It takes us a while to learn new ways of thinking and we need to exaggerate the learning process
  • Spend time educating and motivating yourself – talk to people who you admire, read biographies that inspire, listen to speakers who encourage
  • Get one on one help if necessary. One of the things that really saddens me, is how long people suffer before seeking help. The client that I mentioned first in this article, came to me on the 6th session and said “I don’t know how you did it but I am a different woman”  Just a few sessions and she left confident, able to enjoy life and move forward in her career
  • Understand and accept that you are not alone – most people have insecurities like you regardless of how they come across. We can find comfort in this truth and humans simply do better when they feel supported
  • Keep a journal for this specific purpose where you note situations, your reactions, what you said to yourself, how you felt and what you could say differently to yourself that would give you the results you wanted
  • Just doing something can increase our confidence. To quote Anthony Robbins, “Do what you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”Consider these two ways of increasing your comfort zone:
    • Systematic desensitization which simply means we take “baby steps” out from the inner core. We can do this by trying something new but small, staying in that place for awhile and when we feel comfortable, moving on to the next step. An example of this could be you would like to increase your professional networks but find building new relationships too confronting. Try tagging along with a friend you trust to networking events. Set a goal to introduce yourself to one new person each time and ask them a question about themselves. As people respond, your confidence will grow
    • In vivo flooding. This is exactly the opposite of systematic desensitization and involves jumping in the deep end with no “warm ups”. An example could be that you have been wanting to speak in public for work but are just too afraid. You may decide to give it a go, put up your hand to chair the next week’s meeting and trust that the nerves will abate sometime during the meeting

Try to remember that this is a journey or marathon and we train very differently for a marathon than a sprint. That being said, with the right help and tools, very quick results can be obtained in specific areas

This is an extremely big topic but if you would like further help you may be interested in one on one coaching or my course below:

“Women in the Workforce: Developing a Powerful and Positive Self Image for Professional Advancement”

  • Discover your values and beliefs: discover yourself
  • Unlocking emotional and mental blockages to success
  • Conquering fear and anxiety that stops you moving forward
  • Empowering yourself through ownership
  • and responsibility
  • Positive personal boundaries
  • Know your strengths: manage your weaknesses
  • Adapting to Change: The Essential Factors to Success and Moving Forward

Just email me for further information at julie@sigmamindset.com or phone 0430186415