…and that, dear reader, is something very simple.
Deal with your own ‘stuff’ first.
Simple – but not always easy is it?
I help women to help themselves; I don’t believe we should sit back and wait for conditions to change before we move into leadership roles, and we certainly shouldn’t wait for other people to ’empower’ us either. We can empower ourselves. There are a lot of obstacles in the way when it comes to women moving through the pipeline into more senior roles and women taking control of their own careers is something that should sit alongside efforts to change society and the cultures embedded in many working practices today.
A key part of creating conditions in which women feel empowered and enabled to make bold career moves, is in supporting other women. Sadly, I’ve often heard the phrase ‘other women can be our own worst enemies’ when I’ve worked with clients, and certainly an early experience for me backs this up.
In my first book, Strategies for Being Brilliant, I tell the story of some unwanted feedback I was given from a woman on an interviewing panel, many years ago. This taught me valuable lessons in coping with criticism, lessons to this day that I share on my workshops and 1:1 work with new and aspiring female leaders. The real shock of the event for me though, was the fact that another woman chose to criticise my parenting skills and confidence levels.
I’ve witnessed similar stuff happen to other women over the years too. Luckily, most women I know and choose to spend my time with are incredible. Sometimes though, I see and hear unsupportive behaviour from women towards other women – the dirty looks, snide remarks, subtle put-downs, judgemental comments and one-upmanship.
Why does this happen? What stops us being supportive to each other? What prevents some women from being happy when they see another woman’s success, or from being able to admire one another’s achievements? What gets in the way of us helping each other up the ladder?
Our own sh*t, that’s what. This isn’t often talked about.
A lack of confidence in ourselves, a lack of self-worth, self-esteem and insecurity can result in behaviour that shows a real sense of threat from other women. This is when unsupportive behaviour raises its ugly head, much like jealous behaviour can sometimes be seen in a relationship. It’s less about the other person, more about ourselves.
When we feel strong inside, we are grounded and rooted in a deep sense of who we are. This inner confidence creates foundations that help us to stand firmly, certain of our own identity and what we have to offer. And when we’re like this, we’re much less likely to feel threatened by someone else’s success or feel jealous when we watch someone else achieve something we think we could do too.
This is not to say all women who feel they lack confidence in some areas aren’t supportive!
So – the best way to support another woman, is by working on your own stuff first. Be confident, secure and proud of yourself.
Women who are like this, are also women who:
- Speak up for other women
- Mentor other women
- Encourage others
- Are supportive, helpful and generous
- Genuinely feel happy for the success of others
- Recommend other women
- Promote the success of other women
- Build friendships as well as business relationships
- Champion women
- Compliment them on their achievements not just their appearance
Sometimes, turning the gaze inward and confronting our own demons isn’t always easy – but consider how you’ll show up differently by working on yourself, rather than going to work on other women? This is why working on your own confidence levels is so important. Apart from the inherent benefits to ourselves, it helps us to be better and more supportive colleagues, friends and business partners.
What do you think? Here’s a challenge for us all this week. If you could be a little more supportive to another woman this week, what would you do? Me? I’m going to make an effort share articles and book recommendations to women in my network.
If you’d like more help to become the kind of leader who really supports their team and builds great relationships, then you can download 5 Steps to developing Your Leadership Presence, a free 30 page guide, by clicking on the link here.
I’m Susan Ritchie and I help emerging female leaders to develop their leadership presence by raising their profile, creating more impact and become more influential. This means they become relaxed, happy and confident leaders who enjoy their role and excel at it! If you’d like to find out more about working with me, you can contact me at email@example.com