A recent post on the Harvard Business Review Blog Network (HBR) explores behaviors of women that can hold them back in the professional arena. The article cites studies which show that only half of women display high self-confidence while the other half admit to feelings of self-doubt regarding their performance. This lack of confidence translates into a reluctance to apply for jobs or promotions.
The article lists four ways women unintentionally sabotage the development of their careers. Included on the list are being overly modest, a reluctance to ask for help or about new opportunities, trying to blend in, and remaining silent instead of speaking up and adding to the discussion. All of these actions can lead to being overlooked in the workplace when a new job opens up or it is time for a promotion. Not necessarily due to a lack of ability, but because managers are not aware of their female employees’ capabilities.
On a different blog, Lauren Carlson, a CRM Analyst with Software Advice, translated these behaviors into the sales field. Lauren posits that there is a difference between bragging and self promotion, and that excessive modesty leads to women undervaluing themselves and their services. Accepting that a reluctance to ask questions and low confidence inhibit women’s performance as salespeople, Lauren adds that by making relationships a priority, women are less likely to push for a sale or try to change the customers perspective for fear of ruining the relationship.
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s (GEM) 2010 Women’s Report (posted on this community here) highlights the fact that women are less likely to become entrepreneurs from fear of failure. It is easy to see how the behaviors listed by HBR and explored by Carlson tie into GEM’s findings. Carlson states that while “modesty is an admirable trait, it is foolish in the professional world.” This holds true in entrepreneurship, in order to draw support and much needed attention, entrepreneurs must be willing to vocalize their accomplishments. Similarly, the ability to speak up and voice their interests is key to success.
As the Harvard Business Review suggests, overcoming these behaviors is not difficult. Instead of focusing on adding job skills and enhancing capabilities, small adjustments to everyday behavior and attitudes can have a big impact on the way people view your professional abilities.