We just turned a fresh new page on the calendar, and we are ready to take on the new year. As leaders, specifically female leaders, a new year has us wondering how to start the year strong.

Here’s what I see happening with a lot of women in leadership – you start in the hole, with one arm tied behind your back, feeling like you are already “doing it all” and feeling incapable of adding one more thing to your plate.

You put yourself last, worrying about helping your team and those around you, sacrificing your own career goals in the process.

This is not the picture of a strong start. But it is often reality.

And it leaves many of us wondering how to start the year strong.

That’s why I want to talk about how starting the new year from a position of strength – instead of a position of exhaustion – is the key to hitting your goals, increasing your impact, and finishing 2022 on the best note.

What’s On Your To-Do List?

I have a coaching client who is focused on her career growth. She has big goals and wants to do the things necessary to level up her skills and prepare for upcoming advancement opportunities. But she doesn’t know where to start, because she doesn’t know where she is heading. 

This client hasn’t even taken the first step because she’s so overrun by her day-to-day tasks and responsibilities. She is highly motivated and a high-achiever, but her to-do list runs her day and she feels like she can’t keep up… resulting in her feeling exhausted, defeated, guilty, and further from her goals as each day passes.

Maybe you have experienced what my client is struggling with, too.

Do you find yourself spending all of your energy on checking off to-do items so you feel like you’re contributing… but not actually focusing on the things that actually have the most impact?

You and my client are not alone. In fact, 88% of business people don't accomplish their top three priorities on any given day. Of the time given to a workday, 80% is spent doing tasks with little to no value and only 20% is spent doing something important.

That means almost all of us are struggling with getting the right things done. But why?

You Need to Address Your Priorities

That always-open inbox and never-ending to-do list? Those keep us consistently inundated with smaller, trivial tasks. The constant presence of these insignificant responsibilities draws us in and sucks all our energy.

Want to end the overwhelm and start each day from a position of strength?

You must be intentional in deciding what matters most – with your own goals at the top of the list. 

Your goals and high-impact tasks should drive your day, not the mile-long to-do list of little time-sucking tasks.

When you’re ready to take back control of your day and step into your strength as a leader, there are three steps to take to make sure your overall vision, goals, and priorities are in line.

  1. Redefine
  2. Redesign
  3. Realign

Everything starts with redefining. It’s vital that you have a clear idea of where you want to go before you take off. You can’t work toward a goal without knowing what you’re working for.

When you take the time to redefine, redesign, and realign, you will be confident and ready to strike with the right opportunity coming your way!

How Do I Redefine, Redesign, and Realign?

Taking on these reflections and major life decisions on your own can be daunting.

That’s why I’m here to help you take the first step!

Download my Leadership and Career Dashboard to give you a head start in “redefining” the vision you have for your career & your leadership in the new year.

And when you’re ready to truly accelerate your growth, overcome any challenge, and realign your values to reflect what matters most – consider partnering with a leadership coach and accountability partner to help you get where you want to be!

Click here to schedule a call to discuss what coaching can do for you.

Does this sound familiar? 

You have achieved a certain level of success as a leader. Colleagues respect you, and your team recognizes that you have the knowledge and skills they need to be successful, too. You get results. It is clear to everyone in your organization that you are a disciplined, proven leader.

And yet you still feel like an imposter.

Every day you find yourself doubting your decisions, second-guessing your choices, and feeling like you’ll never be enough.

It’s exhausting. And you’re not alone.

Women have made incredible strides in the workplace – we’re earning more college and graduate degrees than men and closing the gap in middle-management… but men are still getting paid more and promoted faster. (The Atlantic)

So what’s going on?

According to reporters and researchers Claire Shipman and Katty Kay:

“Compared with men, women don’t consider themselves as ready for promotions, they predict they’ll do worse on tests, and they generally underestimate their abilities.”

But when it comes to actual outcomes and results for men versus women? The quality of their actual performance doesn’t differ much. (The Atlantic

As women, we doubt ourselves. There’s a massive confidence gap that’s holding us back from top leadership positions and exhausting us on a daily basis. Yes, your role as a leader is complex and stressful – that’s true for any leader, male or female.

But when you actively step into your power and embrace your confidence, things do start to feel a bit easier. You free up your mental and creative energy to focus on problem-solving and helping your team instead of constantly worrying that you’re not enough or doing something wrong.

And because you know we are all about taking action around here – I’m sharing 4 simple, direct ways you can increase your confidence, decrease your self-doubt, and close that confidence gap.

How to Close the Confidence Gap

I work with my one-on-one leadership coaching clients to help them shift their perspective, change the narrative, reframe the stories they tell themselves, and declutter their minds so they can lead with less overwhelm and more balance, less stress, and more ease; less push and more receive.

Those changes and shifts take months to fully take hold, but you can follow these steps to start closing your own confidence gap today.

Step #1: Know Your Values

Make a “Top 5” list of the qualities you think it’s most important to have. You’ll feel more confident – and more authentically you – when you know you’re living and leading by your own set of values instead of trying to conform to someone else’s.

Step #2: Keep an Open Mind

Sticking to rigid thinking leaves you second-guessing every choice and decision. Approach your work, your team, and your colleagues with an open mind and see how much easier it is to appreciate good ideas, be more creative, and stop worrying so much about being “right.”

Step #3: Practice Boldness

A huge reason for the confidence gap? Men believe their ideas are great and women are timider about putting themselves out there. Start small – with speaking up in a meeting or starting a conversation – and practice increasing your bold actions each day. Will it feel uncomfortable? Probably. But keep practicing, and soon, you will feel comfortable standing up and standing out!

Step #4: Avoid Perfectionism

Done is better than perfect. So many times, we (women) second-guess our work and let perfectionism keep us from sharing an idea, solving a problem, or achieving a result. You are not naturally perfect (no one is), and the sooner you can let go of that need the sooner you will see your confidence bloom. 

Why Does Confidence Matter?

Doubting yourself and second-guessing your decisions is exhausting. It also ends up hurting your productivity, your results, and ultimately your career. 

If you want to be the most effective leader possible, you have to step into your confidence and lead from a place of feeling empowered, capable, and authentic. That is when you will really live up to your potential, see your true success, and help your team members grow. 

Feel like you need some help in this area? It can be difficult to overcome your self-doubt tendencies on your own. That’s where a coach can make a huge difference. I help women identify their own confidence gap and make major shifts in perspective, mindset, and beliefs in order to increase their confidence, ditch the stress and overwhelm, and lead with ease.

If that sounds like something you would like to experience, you can click here to check out my 1:1 services

And if you’re ready to tackle your confidence gap on your own, make sure you start with the steps above and systematically break down your doubt and fears. Your team, your organization, and your career will thank you!

Women in leadership face different obstacles and challenges than their male counterparts. According to a Pew Research Center study, 43% of Americans agree that women in leadership positions are held to a higher standard than men. So those feelings you may have of needing to work harder to prove yourself or achieve better results just to be seen? They are real.

So what is a motivated, ambitious female leader to do?

We believe the workplace is better for everyone when there are more women in leadership positions. We also know that it can be a daunting task to take on heightened expectations and unfair bias on your own. So over the next few months, we’ll be posting all about how to overcome some of the major challenges you face as a female leader. We will focus on identifying the issues and giving you concrete, actionable steps to overcome each obstacle you may encounter.

Yes – it is harder to be a woman in leadership, but we can do hard things. And together, we can help improve the workplace for our colleagues and the generation of women leaders behind us. Let’s get to it!

Is Anyone Listening?

One of the biggest struggles I faced as a leader in the corporate space, and a struggle many of my clients identify with, is being able to clearly and effectively communicate your thoughts and ideas in a male-dominated space. This is also one of the most common challenges for women in leadership.

One of the worst ways I see this struggle play out is through “bro-propriating.” Here’s what happens – You, the female leader in a group of men, share a solution to a problem. No one listens, and your idea is pushed aside, and everyone keeps talking. A few minutes later, one of the men in the group offers up the exact same solution you suggested… except this time, everyone is on board. The idea is heard and valued because it came from a male leader in the room.

If you’ve ever worked somewhere that allows (and even promotes) this kind of behavior, you’ve probably felt discouraged from sharing your ideas and possibly even internalized the subconscious bias against female voices.

What Happens When Women Don’t Trust Their Voices?

When your voice is consistently diminished, devalued, or ignored, a few things can happen:

None of these are helpful or productive for you or your workplace.

I know when I personally felt unheard or devalued, I tended to react aggressively. I would talk over others, speak quickly, and make snap judgments, all in an effort to force others to listen. This is not my style. My value, knowledge, and skills were devalued by my delivery style, which led to me feeling even less appreciated and seen.

If you’ve experienced the struggle to be heard in a male-dominated group, you can probably also attest to the frustration and fear that comes with this particular challenge. You may have found yourself wondering – Do I really deserve to be here? Do I know what I’m doing? Should I just be quiet and listen?

But you don’t have to stop here. There are some simple, direct steps you can take to overcome the communication barrier and ensure your voice is heard, valued, and appreciated.

How to Overcome the Communication Challenges for Women in Leadership

The first step in overcoming the challenge of communicating clearly and effectively as a woman in the workplace is acknowledging that this is a challenge. You need to put extra effort into this area of leadership in order to truly be heard.

Once you’ve acknowledged and accepted that this is an obstacle you want to overcome, there are some key steps to moving forward.

Stop Worrying and Start Trusting

You have to stop caring what others think. Your ideas are just as valid as the next person’s, and you need to start trusting your own voice. When you’re too wrapped up in worrying about what the group will think or if someone will judge you, you lose your power. Trust your skill. Trust your knowledge. Trust your voice.

Get Comfortable with Self-Promotion

Women traditionally find self-promotion to be a challenge. For most of us, it is much easier to celebrate and promote the people around us than it is to stand up for ourselves. The more comfortable you can get putting your ideas out there, the more people will listen. Be willing to stand up for your idea if it is questioned. Defend your position when it makes sense. Put yourself out there with confidence, even when it’s not your natural instinct.

Call Out Double Standards

The next time a male colleague cuts you off or starts to speak over you, calmly and confidently say, “Hold on. I’m not done speaking,” and resume the point you were making. If you find yourself the victim of “bro-propriating,” say something about it. You can use your sense of humor or be direct (find the style that works for you) but call it out. Remind everyone that you brought that idea to the table just a few moments ago and reassert out the value or appeal of your original suggestion. Even though you may feel angry or frustrated, you will be more effective if you can point out these inconsistencies and biases confidently, without resorting to yelling or arguing.

Your Voice Matters

Communicating well in a male-dominated group is much easier and effective when you truly believe in your own voice. Start with acknowledging that most women in leadership face this same challenge – it’s not just you! – and then take the steps outlined to overcome this challenge and make a place for your voice at the table.

And if you need some support in implementing these action items or building your own belief in your value, you may consider working with a leadership expert who can help you improve your skills and sharpen your self-confidence. I offer one-on-one leadership coaching for executive and senior leaders, as well as new or high-potential leaders. I would love to help you identify your own unique leadership challenges - often the most common challenges for women in leadership - and work together to find solutions and help you show up as the leader you want to be.

Leadership Coaching for Women – The Support You Need to Sharpen Your Skills

True or False: Leadership coaching is only for someone who is failing or falling short in their role at work.

FALSE. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Coaching is for women who are committed, passionate and looking to make a meaningful shift in their professional life.

The leadership coaching for women that I do is all about having accountability and support to take an important step or make a significant change. It’s about elevating your leadership, not “fixing a problem.”

But it can be hard to understand exactly how coaching can accomplish those goals when you’ve never experienced it. Today I’m inviting you to engage with a few case studies that highlight specific clients I’ve worked with, their goals, and the powerful shifts they were able to make because they worked with an experienced leadership coach.

Let’s dive in and see what’s possible!

Non-profit CEO Builds Successful Board

The Context
This client, an experienced business development professional, replaced a former CEO who had only been in role for 8 months. She had strong external relationship-building skills and understood the importance of assembling the right team to support the organization.

The Shift
Because she was new to the organization, I helped her take a step back and evaluate the big picture of what had happened before she came on board. We worked together to understand the internal dynamics that were draining the organization. Then, together, we were able to create organizational design solutions and strategies to specifically address those internal issues.

The Result
This client was acknowledged by the board for making tough internal decisions and building a highly effective team. Under her leadership, the organization achieved unprecedented financial results.

Healthcare Company President Inspires Workforce

The Context
I worked with a charismatic leader whose desire was to double their healthcare company’s revenue in 2 years but felt bogged down with employee relations issues and the internal details associated with a highly regulated industry. It was hard to make any progress.

The Shift
Our work together focused on taking steps to create a shared vision and then align the organization with that vision, creating a cohesive, company-wide culture. I helped this client identify activities and responsibilities they should delegate, freeing up their energy and attention for the vital tasks they needed to focus on.

The Result
This client was recognized as the most inspirational leader in company history. Because of the delegating we identified and prioritized, they gained appropriate bandwidth and focus to successfully position the company for a major sale.

Executive VP of Sales Embraces and Excels in Leadership Role

The Context
This talented and dynamic regional sales leader was promoted to a larger role, with full P&L responsibility and a position on the executive leadership team. They wanted to be intentional and make the most of this promotion.

The Shift
Through one-on-one work, I helped this VP cultivate the leadership presence they wanted to have. We also focused on messaging and decision-making, so they felt confident in both areas before starting the new role. We also found opportunities for collaboration with other functional areas, so this leader could demonstrate their commitment to the organization as a whole.

The Result
The leader assimilated successfully to the executive team, without excessive growing pains or redirection. They demonstrated an acute ability to wear the “company hat” so they were seen as a leader for the organization, not just their assigned function.

What Leadership Coaching Can Do For Women

Let’s look at one last client in even more detail to uncover the shifts she was able to make with the support and direction of coaching and see the benefit or value of those shifts.

This client wasn’t feeling heard and was tasked with driving significant transformation within her function. She needed support finding a leadership approach that was authentic to her (and also sustainable) while allowing her to use her voice.

Shift #1: She moved away from being defensive

Shift #2: She moved away from acting as the “police”

Shift #3: She moved away from combative relationships

You don’t need to wait until you feel stuck to work with a leadership coach. Together, we can sharpen your skills, help you make significant shifts in your beliefs, attitudes, and actions, and help you reach your big goals.

If you’re interested in putting the power of coaching to work in your own life, click here to learn more about working with me and see what leadership coaching can do for your career.

How to Delegate with Intention: A Key Skill for Women in Business Leadership

"It will get done faster (and better) if I just do it myself!"

“Even when I explain in detail how to do it, it isn’t done right.”

I don’t want someone to think I’m dumping something I just don’t want to do on them!”

If you’re a woman in business leadership, you’ve likely made a statement like one of these recently.

Delegating is a skill that does not come easily to most leaders. We struggle with giving up control of the outcomes and worry others will see us “avoiding” work if we ask them to handle it.

But learning how to delegate with intention is one of the key leadership skills you need to master if you want to be a truly effective leader. Delegating with intention elevates your leadership and helps you empower and develop the people you lead. Done well, delegating might just become your new favorite task.

WHAT DOES DELEGATING WITH INTENTION LOOK LIKE?

In practice, delegating with intention helps us combat our discomfort and unease with the practice of asking others to take on work for us. It’s important to remember that sharing the right work with the right people means that each person – you included – can focus on those things that add the most value.

When it comes to delegating with intention, you have two areas of focus:

  1. Empowering and Developing Your Team (and yourself!)
  2. Adding More Value to the Organization

So let’s see this at work...

You have a data set that needs to be sorted before you can use the data to make a recommendation to a committee about the next steps for a specific project. You also have a few memos to write, an employee review to complete, and some admin tasks. If you decide to do all of this work yourself, you know it will be done correctly, but it’s going to take you an entire day to work through everything.

The kind of delegating you’re used to (that feels uncomfortable) would include you calling up someone “beneath” you and tossing the work that you don’t have time for at them. No wonder that doesn’t feel great!

But you’re a woman in business leadership who leads – and delegates – with intention. So you think about the conversations you’ve been having with your team lately to see who might be a good fit for a few of the tasks you have on hand.

Samantha mentioned that she wanted to deepen her analytics skills in your last one-on-one, so you ask her if she can step in and support the team (and develop a skill she’s interested in) by sorting the data set. She’s thrilled to be trusted with a side project in her area of interest, and you’ve freed up some of your time.

You’ve noticed that Greg is an excellent writer, so you let him know you appreciate his writing skills and could use his help crafting a few key memos for the team. He completes the memos in a fraction of the time it would have taken you, and they are clearly written and easy to understand.

Because you’ve learned how to delegate with intention, you now have plenty of time to sort through the data Samantha aggregated for you and make a well-informed, insightful recommendation to the committee. You don’t have an endless to-do list dangling over your head, so you’re able to be more focused and intentional in the employee review.

HOW TO DELEGATE WITH INTENTION AS WOMEN IN BUSINESS LEADERSHIP

Sure, the above scenario sounds great, but how do you start delegating with intention in your own role?

There are some key questions you can ask to help start putting this important leadership skill into practice. A skill important to develop for women in business leadership.

  1. Why is this task important?
    Get clear on why the task at hand matters. That will help you decide who is the right person to handle it.
  2. What is the desired outcome?
    Understanding the desired outcome will help you realize how important each task is, and help you feel more confident about delegating it to someone else or keeping it on your list.
  3. Why do I not want to delegate this task?
    Do you feel like it’s a waste of time to explain to someone else? Are you worried that they’ll think you’re giving them work you simply don’t want to do? Figure out why you don’t want to do it so you know how to course-correct. Maybe you need to shift your mindset, change your attitude, or remind yourself of the value of delegating.
  4. What is it that only you should be doing?
    Knowing your zone of genius – those things that you truly excel at – will help you sort through the things that need your personal attention and those things that someone else can take over. Saying “no” to work you don’t need to do gives you time and energy for those things that specifically need you.

WOMEN IN BUSINESS LEADERSHIP BENEFIT FROM DELEGATING WITH INTENTION

Learning how to effectively and intentionally delegate helps:

Delegating with intention is essentially a win-win.

“When you get the best from your employees, the company gets the best results."
– LEAD WITH HEART AND LEAVE A LEGACY

Asking employees to manage certain tasks will help them develop new and existing skills. They’ll also feel empowered and appreciate being needed. People want to feel valued – and delegating with intention is one of the best ways to help them contribute to the team.

When you give yourself space to focus on the things you are best at, your work will be even better. You can pour your time and energy into focused tasks, improve your own skills, and deliver excellent results.

Your organization will benefit in a number of ways when you start delegating with intention. First, everyone is involved in delivering better work – which improves the quality of the organization across the board. You’re also helping improve employee quality and satisfaction, which leads to better organization-wide results. In fact, highly engaged teams show 21% greater profitability (Gallup).

READY TO START DELEGATING WITH INTENTION

You see the benefits and you’re ready to sharpen your delegating skills. I’m excited to see how this benefits you and your team! And to start dividing up tasks based on urgency and importance, I highly recommend using Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle.

You can click here to download a free guide to help you get started delegating with intention and improving outcomes. You’ll be delegating like a pro in no time!

Tricia Manning © 2022 All Rights Reserved.
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