by Karima Mariama-Arthur
In business, communicating confidence is currency—it’s quantifiable and can translate huge dividends for those willing to brandish a little bit of old-fashioned moxie. Now, while this notion has traditionally worked for men, it hasn’t always been such a sure bet for women. In a recent Bloomberg interview, BBC World News America anchor Katty Kay and “Good Morning America” contributor Claire Shipman explore this notion and expose the confidence gap between men and women. Katty and Claire are also co-authors of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know. Read more about their research and findings here.
So, why is confidence such a big deal? And, why isn’t competence the “be-all and end-all” for women in business? Well, competence is really only part of the equation. Women, just like men, do better in business by experiencing confidence in 3D. By leaving valuable trump cards on the table—like confidence, for example—we set ourselves up for less-than-stellar results.
I’ve worked with numerous male and female business professionals during the course of my career and my experience confirms that being competent means nothing if you don’t believe it. Sure—we’ve all heard that you can “fake it until you make it”, but that’s simply a prophylactic measure. Confidence must be real. It must be visceral. It must be owned.
Confidence is compelling. When you harness its power, you win. How’s that? You gain immediate, first-class, strategic advantages in business, which allow you to advance your “pawns” to premium positioning: you elevate your thinking, your performance, and your results. You can’t get those kinds of outcomes by “faking it.” With the power to seal a deal, or break it, confidence is a golden calling card that women simply cannot afford to be without. So, if the evidence demonstrates that men have mastered this criterion in business, then quite frankly, why shouldn’t we?
Ladies, here are 4 key reasons why women must own it and communicate confidence in the boardroom and beyond:
Confidence is currency. Confidence is the necessary quid pro quo (“consideration”) in every business transaction. You need it and it will take you FAR. It raises the stakes and opens doors. It helps to position you as the expert, facilitate the exchange of value, and ultimately “transact” business. You would never think of making a new purchase without first giving value (payment), right? Well, doing business of any kind without confidence is a deal-breaker and will leave you strategically bankrupt. Don’t do it.
Confidence says “Take me SERIOUSLY.” Ladies, you want to play in the big league? Get ready to play full out. If you want to be taken seriously, bring some old-fashioned moxie to the game and introduce it at the outset. Insecurity, self-doubt, and hesitation can all be seen from a mile away. And, if you’re not convinced of your own competence, then why should anyone else? That’s right. Don’t expect more from others than you expect of yourself. If you want to be taken seriously, demonstrate that you have the confidence to be in the game and win it.
Confidence influences brand perception. Your brand is your billboard and it’s always at stake. And, if you’re in business, you are always in the business of managing your professional brand. Everything you say or do has the potential to impact it. With that in mind, brand yourself as someone who executes “boss moves” with confidence and you’ll hardly have to worry about earning a reputation for being an easy mark.
Confidence impacts performance. What the mind harbors, the body manifests. If you don’t believe that you can get the job done with excellence, then your performance will reflect it. Why risk showing up like an amateur? Why risk having your qualifications second-guessed? The odds are not in your favor. Increase your confidence and boost your performance. It’s just that simple.
Here’s the deal: Confidence is an essential life skill. And, it’s critical for business. Therefore, we must own it. Make confidence the gateway, and not a roadblock to your success. Play bigger, stand taller, and… own it!
To your success!
Photo Credit: stockimages via FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Karima Mariama-Arthur is a corporate attorney and the Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport, an international consulting firm specializing in professional development. For helpful tips on increasing confidence and solving performance challenges, connect with her on Facebook, and for a quick dose of #Leadership inspiration, follow her on Twitter, @wsrapport.