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  • Writer's pictureSkye Deane

IWD 2022 - #Breakthebias

"The RLE WaRL IWD2022 blog post series came to an end in March and here is the summary. 2 Weeks. 14 days. 13 amazing Resilient Leaders Consultants, writing 14 blogs or posts, sharing stories, ideas, suggestions, and thoughts, all supporting women. We have been blown away by the content, and a summary of which can be found here. However, we wanted to highlight our key findings from all 14 posts together in one place, including links to where you can read the full blog. Each post links to the Resilient Leaders Elements framework which brings to life the 4 elements of Awareness, Leadership Presence, Clarity of Direction, and Resilient Decision Making. This framework brings us great structure in the work we do with leaders, and when you then link the elements to our 2020 research, citing the 7 most commonly shared barriers preventing women from reaching their potential, it brings even greater impact on how we can build our own muscle in becoming confident in what we do and who we are. Enjoy.

Lack of Confidence and Imposter Syndrome are two key internal factors that many women, and men for that matter, suffer from. Key messages throughout our blog series really highlight the importance of knowing self. Really believing in who we are and the strengths that we bring. That awareness of you, of those around you, and also the environment, can stop that imposter syndrome from rearing its head and will help build confidence.

I mentioned in our first blog that ‘Awareness is not a luxury, it’s a necessity’ offering some simple steps to follow to start building that journey of awareness. If you want to take yourself through a 4 step plan of building your confidence, head back to Alex Webb's blog Lack of Confidence – is it only me Cath Baverstock in her blog, Women Power and The Resilient Leaders Elements – draws our attention to the word ‘power’ and what that means to us – is it to do with control or dominance? How can we, as women, connect with our inner power and use it as a source of strength? Cath explains how it can be used as a force highlighting models of power that foster ‘power-over’ or ‘power with’. ‘Power with’ encourages collaboration, consensus building, and creativity. By changing our internal narrative to what the word ‘power’ means to us, helps us understand our relationship with that word. We can then use this to build our Leadership Presence. We can be true to ourselves where authenticity really can shine through. A statistic that really stood out to me was in Kate Smith’s blog, 'Imposter Syndrome in Women Leaders', where:-

‘98% of Headteachers anonymously told us they have imposter syndrome.'

That’s crazy! Kate’s questions around ‘Who are we are for others versus who are we for ourselves?’ Certainly an interesting starting point. We need to give ourselves permission TO BE and believe that TO BE us, works, it adds value and it’s welcomed.

How about the 3 points of wisdom, shared by Rachel McGill, to increase your confidence and stop those imposter syndrome moments: o Knowing the things you are great at o Who or what you are in service to? o Bring people with you and involve them. You don’t have to have all the answers. Having this clarity around who you are and what you do can really silence that inner critic that can often talk louder than our supportive voice. Being Heard was our 3rd internal barrier that stood out in our research and Caroline Broad highlights various situations that we may find ourselves in which may stop us from speaking out. Check out her blog ‘Ensure you are Heard’. How many do you relate to?

Are you worried about speaking up because you’re in a minority, knowing that people have a bias to pay more attention to those who are more like ourselves? Caroline looks at what we can enable, what we can influence and what we can change. Her starting point though, as always, is to start with self. What are we already doing well? (Look out for the message sponsor and Obama story. A great skill to adopt.)

We all have our own assumptions and perspectives which can be unhelpful if we’re unaware of them. Understanding your own biases is key. I, in my post, helped us focus on our own biases which come from the element of Awareness. Awareness of self and others. What are our internal conversations? Be aware of them and understand where they come from. Appreciate the diversity of others with no judgments or assumptions. She ends with a great quote too.

And we know that the workplace and the environment that we’re in can play a huge part in our awareness and how our own biases can manifest which makes it even more important to build a positive culture. An environment that feels safe to those working within it. Anna Hemmings, with her work in teams, highlights the importance of creating a safe environment so that people can be authentic. Because when you have this safety, you can lead with vulnerability, challenge ideas without fear of retribution, this helps create high-performing individuals as well as high-performing teams. Anna, in her blog ‘What high performing teams do,’ looks at the impact of having Cognitive Diversity and Psychological safety to create a safe environment, working towards #breaking the bias. This need for diversity in the workplace whether that is diversity in background, experience, role, perspectives, decision making etc is what brings creativity in the work we produce and also the decisions that we make. Julia Hancock brilliantly connects the element of Resilient Decision Making with many of the barriers preventing women from being their best. She highlights that decisions are made with our feelings, our experiences, our internal narratives. So fully understanding why we make the decisions in the way we do can be so helpful to our own resilience. If we have this awareness of self and others, we have clarity of direction, we can be authentic, knowing who or what we’re serving. Our decisions will be creative because we’ll have the confidence to think outside of the norms. Julia offers us these questions:- - Do we really believe in the decision? - Are we more worried about being judged by others? - Do we want to comply with the norm or break the barriers? - Do we have the confidence to push beyond the boundaries? Julia brings our attention to a great mix of films, playwrights and musicals. Shakespeare, Elphaba from Wicked and even Mary Poppins get a mention! A great read to understand where our decisions come from, how creative are we being? Maybe it’s time to do things differently, so ‘share your song and rewrite the lyrics in your own voice’. You need confidence in self though to do that which again leads us back to that self-awareness and the stories we tell ourselves. Now we have diversity in our thinking, we recognise those around us because we are aware of our own biases, we have greater confidence and imposter syndrome is decreasing, so how do we know that we can grow as leaders? Is there a Narrow View of Leadership within your organisation? How can you change this?

Dee Solley shares her own experience in her post around the issue of this Narrow View of Leadership and highlights that those organisations that pay attention to leadership development, knowing that anyone can be a leader, they are the ones that rise. Helping leaders, at all levels build awareness, confidence and resilience so they know they have a voice, they can show up authentically and this becomes the standard. When moving to a new company, you need to be asking these questions. If we can see there is focused support for development, you know the leaders are there to grow others and not just for the title.

And is it this Narrow View of Leadership that is causing the problem around diversity? Audrey Pentalis brings this to life in her blog ‘Diversity, you can’t handle diversity!’ She highlights one of the quotes that came out of our research:- ‘Majority of senior people are men. I am expected to behave and dress a certain way. How do I continue to progress by adapting to meet the needs of senior positions whilst maintaining my individuality?’

We all say, well most say, that we’re inviting in difference but are we really committing to that change, not just tick box change but real change in behaviour? Or are we staying with what we’ve always done? Audrey reminds us that we ARE all different and there is POWER in those differences. Let’s not be afraid to move away from groupthink! And we can’t have a women’s blog series without mentioning Menopause! Increasing awareness of Menopause for women, and also for men, linking to Unconcious Bias and Narrow View of Leadership. Nicky Bright's blog, ‘Leadership and the Menopause’ highlights that:-

'59% of women between the ages of 45 and 55 who were experiencing symptoms said it had a negative impact upon them at work.' She also highlighted that 12% give up work altogether. This blog really does support you in understanding a little more about how Menopause is affecting leadership, especially when we recognise that pre-pandemic, this was the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, with more women of this group in #leadership positions than ever before. If you want to check out the 40 symptoms linked with perimenopause/ menopause, you can check them out here.

We hope this round-up of all our amazing blogs has been helpful for you and if you like to listen, rather than read, then please do listen Hannah Wilson’s REAL podcast series for Resilient Empowered Authentic Leaders. Through series 1 and 2, she interviews many of us who have taken part in our Women as Resilient Leaders IWD blog series. Take a listen when you’re on your next dog walk, run or taking some me time. Please do share these blogs and highlight the power of using the Resilient Leaders Elements to increase your confidence in who you are and what you do.

If you want to know more about our research, you can find this here. If you’re looking for a coach or want to take part in one of our many Women Leaders Programmes, please do connect with Alex and myself via email Resilient Women Leaders – you’ve got this!"

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