The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Be Bold For Change’ and asks the world to take bold action to drive great change for women in 2017.

A recent study by KPMG shared the startling fact that while the majority of women wanted to lead, more than half of women agreed that they were more cautious towards taking steps towards leadership roles and six in 10 found it hard to see themselves as leaders.

This persistent lack of confidence is a barrier towards women claiming leadership positions, and we need to do more to encourage and build confidence in women.

I wanted to share five tips to help women build confidence in their own vision for leadership.

1.    Cultivate self-belief

Believe in yourself and your vision for leadership. Bring whatever secret thoughts you have about who you want to be and how you want to lead out into open and into the light.

Ask yourself: what are you telling yourself you are not capable of? What limiting belief do you have about your ability to lead? Follow the steps in my earlier blog to understand and reframe your scripts.

2.    Lead with emotional intelligence

Taking a bold step towards leadership does not mean that you must model the leaders that have come before you. I encourage you to tap into your own style of leadership by leveraging emotional intelligence. Think about the five attributes of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, personal motivation, self-regulation, empathy and social skills. Put them in your toolbox for leadership.

3.    Own your talent

How many times have you brushed off a compliment about your work? What is your reaction when someone says,” That was amazing!” How often do you use the words “just” and “only” when referring to your achievements?

Many women leaders struggle with being able to openly talk about their accomplishments, achievements and abilities. They often give credit to others, or their team, instead of accepting it for themselves. They worry about being seen as boastful or arrogant, but over time this practice obscures your own awareness of what you can do and what you are capable of. It becomes easier to dismiss yourself and harder to advocate for yourself when there is something you want.

Own your talent. Take a piece of paper and make an inventory of your strengths and abilities. Take pride in them. The next time someone compliments your work, gracefully acknowledge and simply say “thank you.” You will be surprised at how much better it will feel.

4.    Practice self-care

Have you heard the expression “Put your oxygen mask on before you help others?” The most successful leaders are those who know how to care for themselves, who understand that they need to manage their energy in order to continue to deliver.

Feed yourself well. Exercise. Sleep. Remember: self-care is not the same as selfishness.

I have found this HBR article, “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” a remarkable introduction to how you can practice better self-care and understand what feeds your drive.

5.    Be strategic

We set goals because when we can visualise our destination, the journey becomes easier. When we know that we are navigating towards that bright star, turning away for a moment becomes less frightening and simply part of the journey. As explained in my previous blog, we all struggle with what is expected of us, instead of being, doing and having who we want to be. Without knowing your vision, we are unable to navigate and take actions towards what is truly aligned with your leadership goals. Do you know your vision? I urge you to explore setting your vision and making sure your day-to-day priorities are aligned to it.

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