Three recipes for success women can learn from men

With women being only 14.6 per cent of executive officers, 8.1 per cent of top earners, and 4.6 per cent of Fortune 500 CEOs, they are still not equally represented in the most senior leadership and executive roles in business. Laura Garnett, boss of the New York City-based career counselling firm Garnett Consulting, puts that down to what she and others call “the Confidence Gap”.

Picture: ZoomTeam / Fotolia

According to research men are innately more confident than women in several areas. Women therefore need to overcome the most common confidence-killers – traps men know how to avoid.

A study from Hewlett-Packard revealed that the women working at HP applied for promotions only when they believed they met 100 per cent of the qualifications necessary for the job. Conversely, the men were happy to apply when they thought they could meet just 60 per cent. Women can learn from men to jump for opportunities that excite them and feel like a perfect fit with their strengths — no matter what the exact qualifications are.

After working with men legendary National Basketball Association coach Mike Thibault has been coaching women for 10 years. Here is what he has to say about the difference between male and female players in handling failure: “The propensity to dwell on failure and mistakes, and an inability to shut out the outside world are the biggest psychological impediments for my female players, and they directly affect performance and confidence on the court. There’s probably a distinction between being tough on themselves and too judgemental” he said. “The best males players I’ve coached don’t let setbacks linger as long. And the women can. Men brush off criticism more easily than women — and we can learn from them by doing the same. 

Being held back by what others think. Studies suggest that men rely less on praise to feel confident than women do. Men brush off criticism with ease, while women hold on it and spend way too much time wondering why it happened, what they can do to fix it, or beat themselves up for not being what those have criticised them for. 

According to Laura Garnett the key to success is to not care what others think. She says: “Start noticing when you are making decisions or initiating action: Why are you doing this? Is this coming from your own truth or based on what others think? Once you notice how often you care what others think, you can begin to reverse the behaviour. The more you can stay true to yourself in the face of opposition, the better.”

Read more atForbes

Barbara Bierach