In today's competitive business environment, it's not surprising that every professional, irrespective of their gender, faces an inner critic or battles moments of self-doubt.
However, research indicates that women are 54% more likely to struggle against this inner critic, often to the detriment of their professional advancement.
In a recent episode of the B2B Leadership Podcast, host Nils Vinje had an interesting chat with the awe-inspiring Catherine Blackmore, furthering the discourse on this significant concern.
Overcoming the Hurdles
Catherine illustrates the idea of this debilitating inner critic by explaining how women frequently tell themselves that they just need to 'row harder' to be successful.
This mindset, unfortunately, only serves to exhaust them, rather than lead to the advancement they anticipate.
Another idea she expounds on is the concept of the 'big lie.'
The misconception that most professionals harbor is that success or promotion is directly proportional to the amount of hard work they put in.
Catherine debunks this myth, emphasizing that working harder is not necessarily the path to professional growth.
The Role of Inner Confidence
Often, professionals tend to lack the necessary confidence to ask for what they want or the help they need.
This is particularly true for women who face additional burdens, both at home and in the workplace.
According to Catherine, women need to remind themselves that they are worthy and deserving of what they desire.
A unique technique that can aid in boosting confidence would be the formation of an alter ego or an 'alt persona.'
This persona could act as a guiding voice — a 'Jiminy Cricket' — that encourages positive affirmations and advises against self-deprecating thoughts.
The Case for Psychological Safety
The development of 'psychological safety' within the work environment is of utmost importance.
It is an underpinning that could facilitate the highest productivity while empowering individuals.
Researchers have discovered that when professionals feel safe and can be their authentic selves at work, they exhibit heightened creativity, better collaborative skills, and are more innovative.
Catherine commendably calls out a challenge: for every person to become acutely aware of their implicit biases.
The first step to enacting change lies in accepting these natural prejudices.
The ultimate objective would be to make a concerted effort to view men and women through an equal lens within professional settings.
A Word to Leaders
Leaders have the power and ability to modify this current narrative and promote change within their organizations.
A significant element in achieving this change would be 'mentoring' and 'sponsoring'.
Catherine talks about the distinct differences between a mentor and a sponsor.
While a mentor helps in recognizing one's potential and aids in skill development, a sponsor holds a position of power and can influence promotions and advocate for you to take on significant roles.
Developing a one-on-one mentorship program within your organization could play an instrumental part in advancing women's careers.
By providing personal leadership training and focusing on psychological aspects, leaders can enable and empower women to overcome their inner critic.
Leaders can also initiate efforts that focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Such endeavors will ultimately not just benefit women, but the organization as a whole.
One of the key takeaways from this insightful conversation between Nils and Catherine is the belief that actions bring about change.
There is a necessity to both understand and propagate this notion of individual worth.
It's crucial for women, particularly, to realize and harness their superpowers.
Confidence in oneself, coupled with the courage to ask for and accept help, can take you a long way both personally and professionally development-wise.
Remember, whether you're rowing in rough seas or gliding through the calm, you are enough, and you are powerful.
Don't let your inner critic tell you otherwise.
You, just as you are right now, are worthy.
By being an advocate for change, we can create more inclusive and empowering environments that foster balance and the development of robust leaders for the generations to come.
And that's something we can all strive towards.
We've rowed far; we can row even further.
Check the "Mastering Your Inner Critic" book here
Check out these TED Talks mentioned in the show: