To be truly representative of the country, the UK needs over 500,000 more women managers according to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). This is a pattern that plays out internationally.
Evidence and experience show that women often exhibit lower levels of self-confidence than men and this can impact their success in securing, or even trying for, senior leadership roles. Coaching can be effective in building self-confidence and overcoming the imposter feelings that often come with it.
In 2020 I conducted research with 12 workplace coaches experienced in coaching female leaders. The aim was to explore the effect that having different levels of self-confidence has for females in leadership, and the role that coaching can play in promoting self-confidence.
The results showed that low self-confidence was reported to be ubiquitous in coaching conversations with female leaders, although the reasons were many and various, often masking deeper issues. Imposter syndrome, defined as a feeling of ‘not belonging’ and a fear of being found out, was frequently mentioned. Coaches called out the value of building trusted relationships from which clients felt willing to try new behaviours to identify their fears and become more effective leaders. A process of trial, reflection and adaptation emerged as being effective to build strategies to increase their self-confidence and effectiveness.
By Fiona Wilkinson
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