Successful Women Leaders Must Have Self-Confidence

Posted on: December 1st, 2011

Leslie Pratch, a clinical psychologist, recently wrote an article about why women leaders need to have confidence in themselves. Read a summary of her thoughts below:

Enthusiasm, charisma, clear communication, strategic thinking, and “cool minded” decision making are just a few of Virginia Rometty’s leadership characteristics. On January 1, she will become the first female CEO of International Business Machines Corp. An article from the NewYork Times says self-confidence may have played into her success.

Self-confidence is one of the elements of active coping, a set of behaviors central to executive success for senior leadership roles. Research conducted by the University of Chicago School of Business investigated the longer-term personality predictors of leadership. They found that the only measure that predicted leadership for men and women alike was an overall measure of active coping that indicates the ability to respond adaptively to stress and to grow.

Gender-based expectations for behavior influence the styles and evaluations of leaders. For instance, women are expected to display high levels of social (communal) qualities (affiliation, concern of others, spontaneity) while men display high levels of agentic qualities (exertion of power, assertiveness, competence).

As a whole, these findings indicate that women have to have high self esteem and high self confidence while leading in a communal style in order to be perceived as effective leaders. In short, they must be stronger copers in order to transcend the constraints placed on their leadership style. Virginia Rometty appears to demonstrate these characteristics.

For the full article please visit http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/11/women_leaders_need_self-confidence.html.