The business world has made tremendous strides to ensure more and more women reach the C-suite, but many still struggle with low self-confidence -- the ultimate roadblock for women on their path to reaching their full potential.
As we come to the end of celebrating Women's History Month, I had the opportunity to connect with several powerhouse female CEOs determined to inspire and empower other aspiring female leaders with the confidence they need to achieve greatness.
They share their insight on silencing self-doubt and embracing self-confidence to find success. Here is what they had to say:
Believe in yourself
Vanessa Yakobson, CEO of Blo Blow Dry Bar, North America's largest blow dry bar franchise, stresses the importance of embracing vulnerability and believing in yourself even if others don't. Yakobson shares, "When you act confident, you will start feeling confident."
By practicing confidence and rehearsing self-assurance, you'll be equipped with the courage to take on challenges, command respect, and encourage others to listen. This can start with small actions such as paying attention to body language, watching tone of voice, walking with purpose, standing tall, and making eye contact.
Yakobson explains that as a leader, you must prove to yourself that you are capable. "Don't be afraid to put yourself out there," she says. "Don't be afraid to try. Seek out opportunities, take your place at the table, share your ideas and observations."
Once you see how others respond positively to your contributions and self-assurance, Yakobson notes that you'll be more and more inclined to participate actively in the future.
Always be prepared. Always keep learning
Linda Chadwick, CEO of Rita's Italian Ice, calls upon previous wins to share how she gained confidence in the workplace. "I find that my confidence came from two core factors," she says. "The first factor was something I learned pretty early in life: Always be prepared."
Chadwick shares that in order to win, she knew she needed to be the most prepared person in the room. "As a result, I used a basic principle of 'plus two,'" she states. "I would learn the subject matter I needed to tackle -- for example, explaining how we would grow a given percentage over the next quarter. But then I would mentally go two depths deeper on the topic."
In addition to ensuring preparedness, Chadwick shares the second key to finding confidence. "I made sure I was constantly learning," she says. "After having a particularly good meeting, I would reflect, celebrate, and anchor the feeling of success. If I missed the mark, I would correct any issues -- then celebrate for learning something new. This allowed me to grow more and more confident with each encounter and engagement, and now my confidence is rarely shaken, no matter the outcome."
Build competence over time
For Shannon Petteruti, CEO of the DripBar, a franchise helping people obtain their best health using intravenous therapies, the advice for building confidence begins with building competence, celebrating wins, and persevering.
"Confidence can be built by being open-minded and willing to learn from the knowledge of others, regardless of the position they hold in your company or your life. A great mark of confidence is being open to new thoughts that may challenge your own ideas," says Petteruti.
Winning can help reinforce confidence on every level. But Petteruti also stresses the importance of remembering to get back up when you fall short. "No matter how much you strive for perfection, you will fall at some point," she says. "Accepting that as part of your journey and not letting it rattle your confidence are critical elements to growth. There are no failures, only lessons to be learned."
Prioritize professional development
For Kim Gubera, CEO of Pirtek USA, the leading hydraulic hose repair and replacement franchise, prioritizing professional development is what ultimately led her to gain more confidence.
She hired a speech coach to develop her speaking skills prior to an important, companywide opening speech as a new CEO. "I didn't consider myself a charismatic speaker back then. So I decided to go to a speech coach beforehand, which contributed to building my confidence immediately, which ultimately made me feel and act more charismatic when speaking."
Gubera recommends using coaches, mentors, or any trustworthy sounding boards to further build confidence as you advance in your career pursuits.