The Sunday Mail
Women & Leadership
WOMEN are plagued more by self-doubt than men — and this is a real challenge for those looking to rise in leadership.
Self-doubt manifests in second-guessing the self as well as in indecision, failing or struggling to make swift decisions, among a host of other ugly characteristics that subtract from one’s leadership quotient.
It, therefore, becomes imperative for women in leadership to deal with any self-doubt tendencies that may plague them.
The more a woman is better able to handle drawbacks such as self-doubt, among others, the higher her chances of getting ahead and higher up on the corporate ladder.
One of the impediments to fully developing one’s own self-doubt in particular and self confidence in general, is the little voice in one’s head that often rears its ugly head at the most inopportune of moments.
This little voice is the inner critic, niggling away at your self-assuredness, whispering and asking you if you really have what it takes to be in this position or if you are sure about what you are planning on saying.
At once, this triggers the Imposter Syndrome and before you know it, you are a basket case of marinated doubt, nerves and butterflies.
If this sounds familiar, you are not alone. This is all part of Atychiphobia, otherwise known as fear of failure. This comes with a long list of its own symptoms ranging from self-sabotage to excessive anxiety and a failure to follow through on your goals.
Perfectionism is another symptom, wherein you will only attempt something if you know you will finish it with guaranteed success.
But yes, that inner voice can have you jumping hoops. Naah! Drown it. Turn its volume down.
How to silence your inner critic
There are a number of tactics one could apply in order to silence the inner critic.
Tell and convince yourself that you have a right to be where you are, otherwise, if you were not, those that appointed you to that position would not have done so in the first place.
Remind yourself of your abilities, qualifications, past achievements, accolades and other glorious attributes you might have.
These may be good to be your last thoughts, especially when walking onto that stage to slay yet another dragon.
By the same token as above, also get into the habit of saying some kind and encouraging things about yourself. Fill your mind with these. Positive self-talk has been known to yield positive results.
Have a set of affirmations you routinely say to yourself every chance you get. Ask yourself what is the worst that could hap pen. Prepare for it, counter it and pre-empt that possible occurrence.
Embracing the fear that may be evoked by the little voice has been noted to be helpful for some women. Go past worrying about the fear and get down to the process of what you actually need to be doing at that point in time.
Embrace the fear as something that makes you want to push yourself harder and further. The inner critic has got to be tamed, otherwise you will not be able to do or achieve half the feats you need to.
◆ Maggie Mzumara is a leadership, communication and media strategist as well as corporate trainer who also offers customised coaching services to groups or individuals one-on-one. She advocates women leadership and is founder of Success in Stilettos (SiS) Seminar Series, a leadership development platform for women. Contact her on [email protected] or follow on Twitter @magsmzumara.