women leaders

Breaking Hierarchical Barriers and Shifting Mindsets for Women Leaders

In the Peak Resilience Accelerator programme, we talk a lot about ‘judges.’ Those voices every human hears that rear their heads more often than they should. It is the voice of self-doubt that tells us we aren’t worthy, we are wrong, the things we do or say are stupid. I’ve got one and, unfortunately, so do you – we all do! Shifting this mindset to benefit leadership is vital, particularly for women leaders like my clients. They are often surrounded by others at work who only encourage that untrue and unhelpful line of thinking.

Find the Ten Percent

This came up in a recent session when I asked the participants for evidence that their ‘judge’ voice was wrong. Everyone could recall evidence that their beliefs were incorrect; Maria recalled a work event she’d attended just the prior week. She had been dreading attending, as it was a mix of close work contacts and a wider circle, all of whom were very senior. 

Maria’s industry is very hierarchical, with everyone vying for the attention of the ‘VIPs’ and ignoring the rest. She said she hated these events, assuming everyone would be fairly negative and greedy. This meant any deeper conversations would fall by the wayside. 

However, using one of the techniques she liked from the programme – the ‘Find the 10%’ game – she found the whole evening better than she’d anticipated. This ‘game’ reminds you to focus on even the few things on which you can agree. Maria worried she’d be surrounded by a mix of naysayers or sycophants, yet was ‘pleasantly surprised’ by the truth. Plus, Maria reminded herself that even the negative people had their own judges and were likely judging themselves!

This version of ‘proving your assumptions wrong’ is vital for the mental health of women leaders, as it means our previous judgments don’t continue to hold us back. 

Different Doesnt Mean Wrong

Maria’s memory sparked off Miranda, who’s judge was proven wrong a week earlier. A junior person on her team had had to deputise for her, and had done a far better job than Miranda had predicted. 

Miranda explained: ‘I’m a real Stickler and I go over every single detail, worrying that a colleague will try to catch me out. However, when my deputy presented, she presented far less detail than I normally offered. Plus, I was told she also had a very charming way of reassuring people that if she didn’t have all the answers at that moment, she’d find them for the person who had asked the question. I realised she might present differently, but that it was just as valid as my own. Plus, it proved to me I perhaps needn’t go to such dramatic lengths when presenting my own work.’ 

Miranda realised her colleague’s presentation style was more effective than her own, and that both pleasantly surprised and humbled her. It simultaneously removed the pressure she felt as a stickler for always being right.

Is It Time for a Mental Reset?

This mental shift is a real win for improving the perspectives of women leaders. When, in your own recent history, has one of your assumptions been proven wrong? What was the gift in that? 

If you think this kind of mental rewiring is something you could benefit from, keep an eye out for my next round of Peak Resilience Accelerator sessios! Or get in contact for some executive coaching sessions, or a webinar talk.

Empowering Women Leaders: Breaking Hierarchical Barriers and Shifting Mindsets
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Empowering Women Leaders: Breaking Hierarchical Barriers and Shifting Mindsets
Unlock the secrets to navigating industry events with confidence through empowering stories and perspectives on women's leadership and diversity.
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InclusIQ Ltd.
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