Guest Contribution by: Michelle Langdon + Ella Chase
If I just show up and keep providing value, won’t that speak for itself? I want to be recognized for my work, but it feels inauthentic to have to promote myself all the time…
I had just gotten off a call with a client, who was super successful in rising up the career ladder, but struggling to get to the next level. She had been turned down for the last three management level positions she had applied for, and she was stuck. She was smart, ambitious, a hard worker…and she sucked at talking about herself and her accomplishments.
I took a step back and realized how often this comes up for the ambitious, go-getter female clients we work with. Many of them — as well as the majority of women out there — are trying to grow their own leadership in their respective fields, businesses, and communities.
The problem is, they don’t know how to “sell” themselves. They don’t know how to pitch their best features and verbalize the value they bring to the table. And this is particularly important if you’re stepping out on your own or launching your own business.
Why We Don’t Speak to Our Strengths
In short, we’ve internalized the patriarchy; we’ve been told to sit down, be quiet, and look pretty. We’ve been taught to question ourselves and our value. Even if we’re not aware that we’re doing it, this is oftentimes the underlying truth as to why we’re not able to speak to our strengths.
Think about a male counterpart or colleague you had at your last or current job. Do you remember him being praised for his contributions to the company? Do you remember him openly talking about his on-the-job accomplishments? As we’ve written about before, the corporate world prioritizes and rewards assertiveness, confidence, direction, dominance, competition, and control—all generally considered masculine energy traits. Therefore, it’s likely your male colleague had been taught—and had internalized—to lead with them in the workplace.
But what about women? We’ve been taught quite the opposite: to not rock the boat, to not make anyone uncomfortable…and oftentimes, this leads us to start abiding by mantras like “Let your work speak for itself.” However, even if your work is outstanding, it still can’t speak to the real world effects it has. Sure, it can provide you with all the numbers and fancy analytics, but how did your work’s performance help out your colleagues, your boss, and the company as a whole? Who’s time did it save? How did it make processes more efficient? It is to these strengths and more that we must speak ourselves.
So how do we do it?
What You Can Do to Shift Your Thinking
Here are some ways we can start to shift our thinking and show up for ourselves.
1. Stop fearing inauthenticity
We often confuse feeling “inauthentic” with us simply being out of practice or not used to doing something. The reality is, it might feel more authentic if we talked about our strengths more, and made it a common practice in our own social circles. Try this out with a trusted group of friends: go around the circle, each speak to your own strengths, and help tease each others’ best traits out even more.
2. Toot your own horn
You’ve probably noticed that one thing men consistently do in the workplace is drop what they’re good at and have accomplished into conversations, sales pitches, etc. We get it; this can feel boastful and pretentious at times. However, not doing it is costing you more money, time, and promotions. In other words, it’s costing you much more than that feeling of discomfort you might occasionally feel when tooting your own horn.
3. Practice, practice, practice
The best way to conquer anything that makes us uncomfortable at first is to practice, practice, practice. Check out the prompts below and start practicing them in the mirror a few times a week.
Now’s the Time to Show Up with More Influence
Here are some prompts we challenge you to sneak into one conversation each day. Make sure you use “I know” vs. “I think” language:
- “What I am known for is…”
- “Here’s what I am good at…”
- “Here’s what I stand for…”
- “Here’s why I’m the right fit…”
If that little, nagging, imposter-syndrome voice starts sounding off as you’re speaking, tell it to shush. You’ve got this. You’ve worked hard and have earned everything that’s gotten you to where you are right now. You deserve to talk up your accomplishments.
And if they’re smart enough to listen, your colleagues could learn something from you, your future clients will see more clearly why you are the right fit, and your supervisors could realize it’s time to put you in a position where you can make more of a difference in the company.
Know a mid-career female professional who works in a male-dominated industry and is feeling unfulfilled? We’re enrolling for our RISE program starting June 17. Our signature RISE program gives women access to new tools for sales, communication, and negotiations while creating community. Come learn more at this free female leadership webinar on May 18th.
Hi! We’re Ella + Michelle of Wellth Works. We are a leading provider of coaching, mentorship, and community for women who work in male-dominated industries. Our mission is to help female leaders grow their confidence, executive presence, sales, and communication skills to help launch a world where the Fortune 500 has a majority of female CEOs (hint: it’s 38 today). OUR RISE program is a leadership development accelerator, which helps women rise in their careers and lives with confidence and ease. We are passionate about creating communities that support women getting what they want.
Before creating Wellth Works, Ella spent a decade as a top sales woman and leader within Fortune 200 companies and has over $1,000,000,000 (yeah, you read that right; billion) in corporate sales in an extremely male-dominated industry. Michelle has been at the negotiating table on major international deals with leaders of countries from around the world and brings deep knowledge in behavioral economics from her role as a US Treasury Representative and a World Bank Board Advisor, resulting in 25+ years of experience creating success and leadership. In addition to our academic and business accolades, we are both trained professional executive coaches.