5 Key Ways Women Leaders Dress in Success
The best thing a woman can wear to work every day is confidence. Instead, we constantly question ourselves, stunting our personal and professional growth. In fact, 56% of small businesses are owned by women, but only 2% of women-owned businesses hit the million dollar mark. The reason? We limit our ambition due to our fears. We don’t speak up. We lack support.
Although I worked in a leadership position at my old company, I didn’t feel heard by my boss. Rather than allowing me the freedom to share my ideas, I felt like she expected my opinions to align with hers. Women need to celebrate each other’s creativity instead of getting threatened when others succeed. It’s time to become businesswomen who are confident, bold, and graceful leaders. Here are five key steps that will empower and inspire you to reach your full business potential.
According to author Mel Robbins, “Confidence is the ability to hear your ideas and trust in them. It’s the skill of believing in and listening to yourself.” Confidence is key if you want to get ahead in work, but oftentimes women don’t feel confident until they’ve reached perfection. I’ve learned that the way to build trust in myself and my ideas is to STEP UP:
S – Speak up in meetings. Be bold enough to share your innovative ideas. Organizations need employees at every level to think strategically, communicate persuasively, and act decisively. This isn’t just key to the company’s success and advancement, but to yours as well.
T – Trust your own voice. It’s easy to second guess yourself; however, if you think there’s a better approach, then you’re probably right. When you start trusting yourself, others will trust you as well.
E – Earn the respect of others. Sometimes “no” gets more respect than overcommitting. If we don’t set expectations and stick to them, we’re telling others that they don’t need to respect our boundaries.
P – Push past what’s comfortable. Allow yourself to talk about uncomfortable topics, whether it’s salary, a raise, or bias in the workplace.
U – Understand your value. You’re unique, so it’s important to know your worth. If you have confidence in your skills and the value that you bring, you’ll be instrumental in driving strategy, building a culture of success, and making positive change.
P – Pave the way for those behind you. Determine ways to empower those around you (both men and women). Businesswomen need to share their knowledge and skills in a mentoring capacity so that all can benefit.
Women need to lift each other up by collaborating more and competing less. Having a strong network of other successful women is critical to success in the workplace. According to Inc. Magazine, “48% of female business owners state that a lack of mentors and available advisors limits their professional growth.” When women join together in a community, they immediately have a forum to share their ideas and learn from each other. Rather than trying to climb over each other to be on top, cheer each other on. If one woman succeeds, we all succeed.
Networking groups also allow you to share ideas and cultivate an environment of empowerment and creativity. The more supported we feel, the more we can reach our maximum potential at work. Instead of cutting each other down, we need to affirm to one another, “you make the cut.”
Women feel like they have to do it all. We have to be the perfect spouse, mother, friend, and professional. We worry about disappointing others, but deflate ourselves in the process. That’s why balance is so important. Work life balance doesn’t mean splitting your hours between work, home, health, and everything else. Instead, it means being intentional and identifying where to focus your time and energy. What areas in your life are “taking away,” rather than giving you life? Identifying the “excess” in your routine will allow you to maintain your inner spark. You’ll be able to multiply your time and feel satisfied after a long day.
In business, women think they have to put in extra work to gain leadership opportunities. While at home, they feel like a failure if they don’t spend enough time with their family. It’s important to give yourself grace and understand that life ebbs and flows. Stay true to who you are and don’t force yourself to be all things to all people.
Pro tip: Take time to write down your core values and priorities. Once you determine your beliefs (the why behind your actions) you can use them as a filter through which you make decisions.
Many of today’s successful leaders share a common characteristic: they’re always seeking knowledge. They’re curious about new approaches and ways to grow. They read business books, attend professional development training, and seek mentors. They’re also not afraid to fail. In fact, men will apply for new business opportunities even if they feel only 60% qualified for the position, while women need to feel 90% qualified before they apply.
To overcome fear of failure, start by taking small, less significant risks. From there you can expand, taking on new roles outside of your comfort zone. It won’t always be comfortable, but the reward is worth it. Remember, some of the biggest breakthroughs are the result of taking risks and being innovative. Here are a few pointers to help you continually grow in your business:
Open communication is the linchpin of any relationship. Consequently, brands that communicate their beliefs with honesty and transparency immediately inspire others. You are your own personal brand, whether you own your own business or work in an organization. When people are invested in your beliefs (the why behind your actions), they’ll stand behind you. Allow people to peek behind the curtain and see what drives you. You should also share the success and failures you’ve experienced while pursuing your dreams. This humanizes you and your personal brand, allowing people to connect on a deeper level. Women don’t always like being vulnerable or highlighting their problems in the workplace because they’re afraid of losing credibility. However, approachability creates respect. Respect creates loyalty.
Once you’ve identified your values and personal brand voice, make sure they’re consistent. If your actions don’t align with your beliefs, people won’t want to engage with you. It’s important to have a consistent brand image and voice whether it’s on social media, in-person, or on your business website.
Women, let’s dream big and be bold. It’s time to get out of our own way and allow ourselves the freedom to thrive. Start by being confident and STEPPING UP; create an environment where collaboration and community are encouraged; take action to achieve balance; and make your personal brand as authentic as possible. Only then can we truly dress in success!