Confidence to Own that Space

It’s all about confidence. That’s the message I keep telling my clients and members of the WLA. Until you fully believe in yourself, you fully love yourself and you have the courage to push out of your boundaries, you will only ever live the life you are living today. 

Your career may likely be stuck, not moving, stagnating. You are doing the same things over and over. Perhaps you keep trying to prove yourself in the hope that someone (ideally your boss) will notice what a superstar you are. And they will be so blown away by you that they offer you a pay rise or a new job or an opportunity to get involved in a high-profile project. I see it again and again. That patient waiting. That trust that it will all come about through proving ‘how hard I work’. 

Unfortunately, in my experience, it doesn’t work like that. Those that break through the mould are typically the ones who have had the courage and confidence to put their head above the parapet. Despite quivering inside they are the brave ones. And bravery combined with authenticity is a heady combination.  

Take Mel. 

Take Mel, one of our amazing WLA members. Her company were looking for a new GM to take over their US operations. Despite never having worked overseas, nor heading any operations of that scale before, she felt her hand go up and her offer to do the role. She was snapped up. To her complete amazement and delight she has moved to the US with her family and having quite an adventure! 

That’s how this works. If you want to have greater impact, know inside you have more to give and more to experience, you have to find that confidence within. 

Influence v Control v Concern 

Too often we get caught up in stuff that we can do nothing about. We lean into the politics. We spend time worrying. Stephen Covey in his book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ shares a simple model. Take a sheet of paper and draw three consecutive circles. The outer ring is the circle of concern, the middle – influence and the inside circle is labelled control. Next ‘brain dump’ all of the activities playing on your mind and keeping you awake at night. Put them into one of the three categories.  

Next ditch anything that is in your circle of concern. These are things you cannot do anything about. You need to focus your attention on what you can control and to those things you can influence. You may be amazed at how much of your brain energy is being spent going round and round in circles. 

Own that Space 

There’s a talk I sometimes give to networks called Owning Your Space. I see how so many women hold themselves back through their language and their presence. Often women can be hesitant in their language when: 

A) sticking up for themselves (and others)

B) asking for what they want

They will raise their voice at the end of a statement creating a question. Turning something powerful into something weak and therefore losing impact. Repeating words such as perhaps, maybe, one day, just, it’s okay, I’m fine. Women are notorious at expecting others to mind read them.  

“They must have known how I was feeling” they say to me. Why do we expect our colleagues and bosses to be mind readers? Why don’t we simply express how we feel and explain what is acceptable and unacceptable…. Confidence comes through many different guises. 

Grumpy Bosses 

Another client described to me a recent situation she experienced at work. Her boss was having a bad day (let’s put it mildly) and in a big meeting he was getting more and more grumpy. It was affecting the energy in the room and impacting guests. About half-way through my client had enough. Most people were rolling their eyes or looking at their feet. She leaned in. She pushed back at her boss, expressing that his behaviour was unacceptable and simply asked “What is it that you want?” She repeated explaining that the team were here to help and he needed to be clearer about what actions he wanted.  

It was a brave and productive move. It changed the dynamics of the meeting and got the team back on track.  

How many times have you sat in a meeting wishing you were elsewhere? Wondering whatever is the point? And what might it be like if you had the bravery and confidence to step in? 

Be Clear and Articulate 

Owing the space means stepping up when others won’t. It means being clear and articluate in your message. Despite whatever you are feeling inside, you stand your ground and state what you want. And here’s the thing. You don’t have to be aggressive when you do it. You don’t have to stamp over your colleagues. You can express what you want in a few simple well thought through words and maintain a steady voice.  

 Your Physical Presence 

As our emotions ‘leak’ far quicker than we can process our thoughts, we also have to be very mindful of how we use our physical presence. Consider how you walk into a room that is full of people. Are you the one that hangs their head low and scurries to the nearest seat to avoid being noticed? Do you scurry out at the end of meetings in an endless rush to get to the next one? And how present are you  in a meeting? Do you actively engaged or wait for your opinion to be sought?  

Be mindful of the impact of both your words and your body language. Start taking small baby steps each day and rewarding yourself for successes no matter how small they are. 

If you want to explore this further, then I’d highly recommend you watching Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk here. 

Amy Cuddy Ted Talk 

 And, if you’d like to learn more about how to have greater impact in the workplace, then why not come along to our WLA Conference happening on 5th March 2020. All the details are here: 





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