Accounting for women’s unique needs in the workplace is important when creating a leadership development program.
As with most topics these days, look long enough and you’ll find research and data to support both ends of the “is there a confidence gap between men and women in the workplace” continuum. Regardless, when creating a leadership development program, taking a thoughtful approach that accounts for women’s unique workplace needs is important.
There’s research that suggests there is indeed a statistically significant difference in confidence/esteem levels between men and women, as well as recommendations for how leadership development programs can address this.
And then there’s research suggesting that the “confidence gap” is a fallacy and inappropriately places the burden of navigating systemic structural and biased ridden organisational barriers on the women themselves rather than the opposite.
I recently attended and spoke at the Women in Retail Leadership Summit—a summit bringing together some of the most impressive women in leadership positions at retail companies to uncover trending leadership strategies, share best practices and learn and grow from each other.
Our Senior Manager of Leadership and Learning Development, Chantal Thorn, delivering the key strategies for developing female leaders in your organization. @WIRLeadership #WIRSummit pic.twitter.com/cnxMc7i1nS
— D2L (@D2L) April 17, 2018
“Your leadership program is not meant to teach leadership skills… it is meant to help women remember the leadership skills that are already innate inside of them.” – Chantal Thorn at #WIRSummit @WIRLeadership #D2L
— D2L (@D2L) April 17, 2018
The issue of confidence (or worthiness or esteem) was a predominant theme. The confidence gap was addressed by everyone—from the high-profile speakers to the sponsor profile presentations. And while I absolutely cannot say for certain that every woman in that room (and there were hundreds of them) could relate to the confidence gap conversation, I will say that there was a palpable “been there” undertone any time anyone mentioned the topic.
If you’re a woman, you may be aware of your own experiences and challenges with confidence as you read this.
So, what do you do? Is the confidence gap a ‘thing?’ Is it not a ‘thing?’ Do you address it or do you not?
Key Considerations for Addressing the Confidence Gap
If you’re responsible for developing leadership programming specifically for women, let me offer a few thoughts:
- A leadership development program that is developed by someone who believes one thing but is offering something else will be inherently misaligned. As the “owner” or “leader” or “facilitator” or “developer” of a program, I’d ask you to do an internal check-in. Read all the research. Do your homework. And then ask yourself, where does the topic of confidence land with you? In your heart? In your gut? For me, it says the topic matters and so I say, include it.
- If the confidence gap is in fact not worthy of dialogue in a leadership development program for women, what are the consequences of including it anyway? If you are right that it is not relevant to the majority of your leadership program participants:
- You have the opportunity to engage in a dialogue around why there is so much talk/research to suggest that this is a concern.
- You have the opportunity to have those in your program for whom it isn’t a concern or challenge mentor and support those for whom the confidence issue may still exist.
- If the confidence gap is, in fact, worthy of dialogue in a leadership development program for women, what are the consequences of not addressing it?
The answer is clear to me.
So, once you’re committed to the idea of addressing the confidence gap in your leadership development program, the natural next question is HOW? If you’d like to engage with us on this critical piece, please join us on June 19th, 2 pm EST for our webinar “Tackling Women’s Unique Needs in Leadership Development – The Confidence Gap.”