women leaders standing with their arms folded, smiling

Women Leaders in Tech Reflect on the Confidence Catalyst Programme

Women leaders in tech often get to their positions because of their focus on perfectionism. It’s that same perfectionism or ‘stickler’ tendencies that can eventually hold them back. Good news? There are ways around it.

This striving for ‘the right answers’ came out in particular when discussing the homework I gave these women leaders in tech in one of our Confidence Catalyst sessions. As with virtually all of the homework pieces within the programme, it was a reflection piece. You got that right: this homework isn’t ‘graded’ or ‘marked’. No-one other than each individual themselves is going to see it. This reflection piece doesn’t even have to be shared amongst the group, though members often do. It’s the discussion about their answers that these women leaders in tech often find so useful. 

Putting in the Work

At the start of a session, I simply asked: ‘How did people get on with their homework?’. I’d asked all the ways they’d fill in the end of this statement:  ‘I’ll be happy when…’. Faced with sheepishly smiling faces, I then asked: ‘Did people even make their lists?’. This was an exercise in reducing the judgement they placed on themselves – not solely the way they judged themselves or others, but how they judged their circumstances. 

Personally, I’d told them my earlier answers had ranged from: ‘When I get the house just right’ to ‘When I get more work from this client I really enjoy’ and everything in between! 

Sarah was the first to speak saying: ‘I didn’t get very far in the homework because I just wasn’t sure if I was doing it right?’ I asked her what her biggest Saboteurs were, and she responded: ‘Stickler’ and ‘Pleaser.’ I asked how those voices were impacting her response to the homework. To me, as her coach, and for the rest of the women leaders in tech, her response was fascinating.

Ticking Off the To-Do List

Sarah’s need to get it ‘right’ and ‘please’ me as the coach took precedence over the learning and reflection that had been the point of the entire exercise. Once she could see that, she and others (who also said they found the homework difficult) relaxed – realising there was no one ‘right’ thing to take from the exercise. The point was to simply reflect on what it said about you, to you.

Another of the women leaders in tech said she noticed that the exercise highlighted to her how much her list overlapped with her ‘to do’ list. Unhelpfully, this kept her forever on the psychological treadmill of judgements about our circumstances; that happiness is always ‘one ticked item on the checklist’ away.  

The others nodded in agreement, and one went even deeper saying: ‘I can see that now, but it makes me question my value if I don’t keep ticking off items on my list.’ That’s not a comfortable place for this busy working mother, or for anyone, but something she wanted to keep working on as we moved further into the programme.

If This Sounds Familiar …

Ask yourself:

  1. How often do I judge my circumstances?
  2. How often do I judge myself?
  3. How often do I judge others?
  4. What would it enable for me if I spent less time judging? 

While most of us know we unfairly judge ourselves, we rarely ask ourselves: ‘What type of happiness and success do I think is just around the corner?’ This question probably takes up too much bandwidth for you, particularly among women leaders in tech. 

If this is something you want to get a grasp of, keep an eye out for my next round of Confidence Catalyst sessions!

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