There’s so much fear and uncertainty that takes root when we see major companies conduct layoffs and hear newscasters talk about the possible impending doom of an economic recession. And the truth is something far more nuanced. Yes – our economy is in a state of flux (as it always is) but that doesn’t necessarily mean your career will be directly impacted. This kind of scenario creates fear in us because it threatens what we think of as our security…the biweekly paycheck gives us structure and stability and even the tiniest threat of losing that puts us into fear.
Add to that the pressure of supporting a family or juggling other responsibilities, and the fear puts us into self-protective mode really quickly.
That’s totally normal – but I’m here to tell you that fear is not useful. Fear causes us to contract and shrink, hoping that we will get through the scenario unnoticed. But in a season of perceived job instability this can easily create a self fulfilling prophecy. There are four major ways that I see fear impacting the careers of women in the corporate world. I’m breaking those down this month and sharing a solution that helps you expand, instead.
FEAR RESPONSE 1: WHEN WE FEEL FEAR, ANXIETY OR UNCERTAINTY AT WORK WE ARE MORE LIKELY TO QUIET OUR OWN VOICE.
We speak up less in meetings, we are less willing to voice contradictory opinions or give honest feedback. Our brain convinces us that being seen and not heard is the solution to this problem and that speaking up (especially in contradiction to others!) is just unnecessarily rocking the boat.
We become so afraid of saying the wrong thing, of the power of our voice…that we stop using it all.
But a great employer will never hold you using your voice powerfully against you. In fact, your opinion and approach is part of the value you bring to your position – so you need to be able to communicate that value effectively. The minute you stop speaking up at work is the moment you start to be seen as non participatory and potentially disposable in the workplace. You obviously don’t want to become known as a complainer, but you can avoid that negative perception by learning confident communication skills.
SOLUTION: CONFIDENT COMMUNICATION SKILL GROWTH
In Confident Leader Collective we focus an entire month on confident communication skills because it’s so vital to the success of women in corporate leadership. You must be able to show up as a champion for yourself, which means confidently sharing and emphasizing the value you’re creating. You also must be able to communicate with confidence and empathy to those you manage, and be able to communicate with all levels of stakeholders.
At their core, confident communication skills entail:
Knowing when and how to contribute
Understanding the superpower that is having a different perspective from others, even if it makes you occasionally feel like an outsider
Having a cohesive strategy for verbal, written and nonverbal communication in an increasingly remote working world
Understanding the gendered nuances of how we communicate
Overcoming the discomfort of not knowing every answer
Making others feel heard and valued
Staying true to your authentic self with a voice that is true to you
If you’ve noticed that any time you hit a bump in your career (missed a promotion, economic insecurity making you fearful, etc) you tend to quiet your voice – now is the time to take action to unlearn this fear response and develop confident communication skills. Click here to learn more and apply for the leadership incubator designed for modern women leaders at work! Enrollment closes Sunday, September 11th!
FEAR RESPONSE 2: WE REFLEXIVELY BEGIN TO COMPARE OURSELVES TO OTHERS AND DOUBT OUR VALUE.
This fear response is your brain trying to keep you safe. Your brain thinks that if it can identify the ways you potentially fall short before others notice them, you can fix them and remove any potential threat your fear has created.
Unfortunately, we often don’t know when to stop and we definitely don’t counterbalance this assessment with acknowledgement of our strengths. Even if you’ve always considered yourself a confident person, comparison is the quickest way to begin doubting your value at work and eroding your confidence.
The frustrating thing about this is that there’s nothing we can do to become the perfect employee or team leader – there’s always another opportunity for growth that we could have pursued. But trying to fix any perceived gaps in our skill set and knowledge means that we’re thinking everyday about our deficiencies, and giving ourselves less time to operate from our strengths.
SOLUTION: HYPERFOCUS ON THE EVIDENCE OF YOUR VALUE & LEAD WITH YOUR VALUE, FIRST.
Instead of spending all of your time considering the ways in which you’ve decided you fall short…start gathering that same level of evidence for why what you do and how you do it is valuable. We facilitate this process in Confident Leader Collective by using my proprietary leadership strengths process called The Personal Power Code. Over several months, you’ll begin to identify your leadership strengths and how to use those more effectively. Once you begin to see those traits as truly valuable, you’ll structure your days around working with yourself and those gifts – which will make your work that much more powerful.
You’ll stop comparing yourself to others and instead focus on differentiating yourself and standing out for your excellence. Click here to learn more and apply for the leadership incubator designed for modern women leaders at work!
FEAR RESPONSE 3: WE PLAY THE WHAT IF GAME AND ISOLATE OURSELVES SO THAT OTHERS DON’T KNOW WE’RE FEELING INSECURE IN OUR ROLE.
When we feel uncertain, anxious or fearful about our next steps in our career, we tend to isolate. We feel shame for not knowing exactly what the next step looks like, or we are anxious because we’re constantly playing the ‘what if’ game – what if the economy collapses? What if layoffs happen at my company? What if I lose everything?
We think if we just don’t voice our concerns and fears, they’ll go away. Instead they build up and cause us to feel stuck in a dreadful loop.
We’re nervous to reach out to our network because we don’t want to cause other people to see us as unclear or uncertain. We keep hoping a solution will fall into our lap.
SOLUTION: CULTIVATE TRUE, UPLIFTING COMMUNITY THAT CAN BE WITH YOUR CAREER VULNERABILITIES AND OFFER YOU OTHER PERSPECTIVES.
Networking is a dreaded term for so many corporate women, because it often feels disingenuous and forced. But finding a community of like minded, high achieving women who have similar goals can be absolutely transformative for your career.
Think about this: What if you could reach out to a group of those women, those who inspire and support you, and ask for their feedback on a tough leadership situation? What if you could ask for ideas on where to go next with your career direction? If you could ask them for any insight into their experiences – without worrying that all of these requests will find their way back to your boss, because the community is external?
You deserve to have a community that supports you, and research shows that high performing women often rely on a small network of other women to get ahead in their careers. If you’re unsure how to go about cultivating such a mastermind, I have great news for you: that’s exactly why I created Confident Leader Collective! You can step right into a powerfully curated community and start getting support immediately.
FEAR RESPONSE 4: WE DIAL BACK OUR DREAMS, THINKING WE NEED TO BE MORE REALISTIC.
Dialing back our dreams feels like the most logical choice when we’re feeling uncertain or fearful about job security. Who are we, after all, to want more? We should be thankful to just get a paycheck.
Despite some economic fluctuation, economists say that this job market is still in favor of employees. This is not the time to dial back your career desires and play it small. You deserve so much more than a paycheck – you deserve to feel challenged, valued and fulfilled by your work. If you want to be promoted, climb the corporate leadership ladder, or manage people with excellence – do it! Instead, it’s time to get radically clear on what those dreams are and to start building structures for yourself to succeed at them.
SOLUTION: TAKE BOLD ACTION.
We all know the saying that if you want different results, you need to take different actions. It applies to our career move as well. If you’re unhappy in any capacity at work, it’s time to take a new approach. Propose a stretch assignment, take on a special initiative, or even limit your workload through radically prioritizing and then delivering excellent results. I like to call this type of behavior a pattern interrupt – a task that interrupts your typical pattern of day to day life, and lets you see new opportunities and experience new experiences. This is key to getting yourself out of any kind of work related rut!
It also proves that you’re tenacious, create and self-directive to your boss. It’s an opportunity to prove that you know how to take initiative and that you’re a solution focused employee. This is the perfect chance to point directly to value you create for the company, and to build your confidence in your ability to take higher levels of leadership on.
Ultimately, it’s more powerful to be seen trying than to be seen ‘quietly quitting.’
Instead of quietly quitting, try taking bold action by getting a career support team on your side with Confident Leader Collective, a modern leadership incubator for career women. Building your confidence, identifying your leadership style & practicing coaching skills will all set you apart as an ambitious individual and help to counteract any fear telling you to scale down your dreams.