If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know I have recommended Lean In — and I still do. I thought the author, Sheryl Sandberg, was very transparent about being a woman executive, and she offered some great tips.
That being said, I would also highly recommend reading The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It reminded me of a Daniel Pink book, filled with references to substantial research from many sources. If I were to attempt to summarize the main topic, it would be that there’s a difference in perceived confidence between men and women. If you’re a business leader, man or woman, this is a must-read.
As I’ve already mentioned, the book is rich in objective research. In addition, the authors have interviewed successful women executives and they weave their own stories into the book, too. To whet your appetite, I’ll offer some of my favorite takeaways/quotes:
- We see it everywhere: Bright women with ideas to contribute who don’t raise their hands in meetings.
- Yes, there is evidence that confidence is more important than ability when it comes to getting ahead.
- In studies with business school students, men initiate salary negotiations four times as often as women.
- Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.
- Confidence is life’s enabler — professionally, intellectually, athletically, socially, and even amorously.
- So is confidence encoded in our genes? Yes — at least in part.
- It’s the effect of nurture on nature that really matters and makes us who we are.
- There’s a direct link between playing sports in high school and earning a higher salary later in life.
- When a man walks into a room, he’s assumed to be competent until he proves otherwise. For women, it’s the other way around.
- Women are judged more harshly at work and in life on their physical appearance than men.
- An unhelpful habit most women have is overthinking.
- Of all the warped things women do to themselves to undermine their confidence, the pursuit of perfection is the most crippling.
- Confidence comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and working toward goals that come from your own values and needs — goals that aren’t determined by society.
- Nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure.
This book is based on extensive research, and I believe it offers some very practical advice.
p.s. Here’s a closing idea for those of you who are dads with daughters. I have a friend who read the book with his 20-something daughter and had a discussion after each chapter. What a special gift — for both of them!