Hello SOTGC community,
My radio show, Breaking the Glass Ceiling, Going Beyond Expectations, focuses on the “inner” glass ceiling – those limiting mindsets and beliefs that women hold on to that keep us from having the career and life we deserve. Every week I interview amazing women who have played by the rules, overcame adversity, and thrive in their careers. What I find interesting is that we all face similar issues: balancing the numerous demands on our lives, striving for perfectionism, and struggling with self-doubt. One of the questions I like to ask my guests is: “What can women learn from men?”
Do men doubt themselves? Of course, but they don’t let their doubts stop them as often as women do. If anything, men lean toward overconfidence — and studies show they come by that state quite naturally. Ernesto Reuben, a professor at Columbia Business School, has come up with a term for this phenomenon: honest overconfidence from a study he published in 2011, where men consistently rated their performance on a set of math problems to be about 30 percent better than it was.
Men know that confidence can you get far in life. When people are confident they believe they are good at something, and it shows up in their verbal and nonverbal expression. Their body language is relaxed, vocal tone is calm, and they speak up sooner than others. Just as you’re thinking this might appear self-serving, it won’t because in the eyes of others, those who are confident are the most beloved and respected in the group. They may not be the most knowledgeable or capable people in the room, but they are the most self-assured, and we all gravitate to that charisma.
Men know that confidence matters just as much as competence. Early in my career, I didn’t understand this. I followed my own set of rules: I kept my head down, worked hard, and eventually believed someone will notice my good work. What I learned from men was that having talent wasn’t enough; confidence was also needed in order to succeed.
I also learned that perfectionism is a confidence killer. Study after study shows that perfectionism is prevalent mainly in females. For example, women don’t answer questions until we’re totally sure of the answer, often women won’t apply for a job until they have 110 percent of the skills required, and women won’t submit work until we’ve crossed all the “t’s,” dotted every “i,” and even the lower case “j’s”. As Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, writes, “Girls got a lot of praise for being perfect in grade school, while boys absorbed more scolding and punishment. In the process, boys learned to take failure in stride.” Dweck also writes, “Boys’ mistakes are attributed to a lack of effort, while girls come to see mistakes as a reflection of their deeper qualities.” Over the years, the combination of taking failure in stride, resilience, and self-confidence are qualities that have served men well and have advanced their careers.
Which of these qualities are you willing to adopt to advance your career?
Here’s to your success!