It’s not news that women in tech often suffer from a lack of confidence. It’s also no surprise that a lack of confidence translates into worse outcomes for women. This could range from lower pay to fewer promotions.
But despite these facts, I hadn’t thought much about confidence in the workplace until recently. A couple weeks ago I attended a workshop on Overcoming Confidence Killers. The workshop was led by Stephanie Judd, of the leadership consultancy wolf + heron. As a set up to the interactive event, Judd cited several statistics about how confident workers have much better outcomes. In fact, according to some research, success in the workplace is just as tied to competence as it is to confidence.
For someone who places a high value on being competent (or even more than competent) at my job, that statistic really bothered me. But it also got me thinking. I wanted to share my thoughts about how confidence is encouraged in my current workplace, and how I can put some of the lessons from the workshop into practice — so I can be both competent and confident!
Radial’s Value of Courage, and Confidence
One of the core values at Radial is courage. That means as employees we are encouraged to do the hard things. To me, that translates into confidence. For example, sometimes we have to have a tough meeting with a client, perhaps about how their communications instructed us to do one thing, but now he or she is not happy with the results and wants us to take a different approach. The developer that handles this communication with a client is stepping out confidently and working to get everyone once again on the same page. In doing so s/he boosts our entire team, because ultimately it keeps the project on track.
Of course, getting to the point where you can be courageous in this way takes confidence. And that’s where a tip from the workshop comes in. We learned that one way to act confidently was to identify the specific barriers to your confidence, so-called “confidence killers”.
These barriers tend to come up in situations where you have an option to either take action or to be passive. Taking the action is the confident step, but it also makes you vulnerable. The action you take could be anything from speaking up in a client meeting to going to your supervisor and asking for a raise.
To practice confidence, you have to first identify what you are afraid of. Personally, I might be worried that having a tough meeting with a client up will result in him/her being angry at me. According to Judd, identifying the fear: “Someone is angry at me” also helps me to overcome it. I’ve isolated that “confidence killer.”
Knocking Through Your Barriers
After identifying or naming a barrier, Stephanie Judd told us: “The only way out is through.”
As Judd noted, we have to train our confidence muscles in the same way we would train our biceps at the gym. That’s through strengthening them with repeated exercise. In other words, I need to do more speaking up in situations where someone might become upset with me.
It sounds hard, and it is. But in the end, I believe the confidence I build will be worth it. It will help my personal career while also benefitting the clients and colleagues I work with here at Radial.