5 courage strategies to become a fearless female in the workplace - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

5 courage strategies to become a fearless female in the workplace

When you’re growing up, boys are told to play rough. Jump from the top of the monkey bars! Climb that tree! Give it a try and who cares if you fail?

Whereas girls are taught to play it safe and aim for straight A's.

This is according to a TED Talk by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, where she explains why it’s so important to “teach girls bravery, not perfection”. As women, most of us are not taught to be fearless, so we need to learn it as adults.

Here are five courage strategies to consider in the workplace:

1. Say yes

We’ve all seen the research which shows that men will apply for a job where they only meet 60% of the criteria, while women will only apply if they can do 100% of what is required. Put your hand up in a meeting, even if you may not know exactly how to complete a task (you’ll figure it out afterwards). Accept that enquiry from a potential client even if you don’t offer EXACTLY what they’re wanting – you can always outsource the rest! Say yes with confidence and new opportunities will open up to you.

2. Watch your body language

Bear in mind non-verbal communication around the workplace – your body language speaks volumes. If you’re feeling like you need a boost of confidence, consider adopting the Wonder Woman stance: place your hands on your hips, your feet placed wider than normal, your shoulders back and stare confidently ahead. Try this if you’re pitching a new idea, or asking for a raise or if you’re involved in any discussion where you need to make your opinion heard. Good posture and a confidence boosting outfit won’t hurt either.

3. Find a mentor

Having someone on your side who’s been there and done that is invaluable. They can provide perspective, pass on lessons they’ve learned and connect you with potential new work partners, job opportunities and more. They don’t have to be female either, in fact it may help to have both male and female mentors. If you’re further along in your career, you may also consider mentoring someone younger than you and passing on any fearless female strategies you’ve learned along the way.

4. Take (calculated) risks

As mentioned before, boys and men are rewarded for taking risks, so they become adept at doing so in real life, whether it’s asking someone out on a date or asking their boss for a raise. If risk-taking is not your thing, try and do it in small increments outside of the workplace, i.e. starting up a sport you’ve always wanted to do like horse riding or surfing. You’ll soon see how much reward there is in taking the right kinds of risks, and this will become evident in the workplace too.

5. Speak up

Decisions at work are made in meeting rooms, typically in a discussion environment. But many women are afraid to make themselves heard, worried they will upset someone or be made to look silly. Silence, especially if you have a valid and important point to make, doesn’t help anyone. Speak up in group environments with confidence and you’ll earn respect as someone who adds value and whose opinion on matters should be sought out.

As a fearless female, approach challenges in a positive way, knowing that they can energise you - rather than deplete you. Be brave and courageous, and the corporate world will soon be your oyster.

Sources:
https://www.bustle.com/articles/64462-how-the-wonder-woman-power-pose-might-actually-help-you-get-ahead-at-work
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/03/21/eight-leadership-lessons-from-the-worlds-most-powerful-women/#3d8a2d0b4592

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