Book review by Rose Murdock
“Evidence exists that confidence is more important than ability when it comes to getting ahead.” The Confidence Code
When I first began my Performher journey in early 2014, I realised that I needed to understand what was holding women back from achieving their ambitions and taking more leadership roles in the workplace. I’d read about The Confidence Code in Huffington Post and I instinctively knew that it held the answers to my questions.
Sub-titled “The Science and Art of Self-Assurance”, it presents evidence that even the most competent women are held back by a lack of confidence, a fact that limits their performance in the workplace. The Confidence Code illustrates above all that women have misunderstood an important law of the professional jungle: having talent isn’t merely having competence; having talent must include having confidence. Reading it, I was reminded of so many women I know and have worked with.
The Confidence Code changed my thinking. Above all, it helped me realise how we women have to manage our inner critics, to believe in ourselves and to keep reaffirming our self-belief. It’s essential that we focus on positive thoughts while banning negativity.
For instance, so many women suffer from what is called Imposter Syndrome – not believing that we belong, feeling that we really aren’t good enough for the roles we’re in or ready for higher positions. This self-doubt occurs even at the most senior professional level.
The authors identify what causes women to hold back, supporting the view of Sheryl Sandberg (of Lean In fame) that we need to get out of our comfort zones and work in ways that are more appropriate for the workplace.
They give great advice about how to start acting the part, and stop mumbling, apologising and dithering. They discuss the role of risk and failure and that it really is okay to fail because it is an essential part of learning. The key is not to beat yourself up about it, but to move along and try again, and this is a vital lesson for all women.
The Confidence Code is well written – the authors are highly credible journalists, after all. Someone asked me if it was heavy going and I’m happy to report that it’s not. Yes it’s a heavy subject based on solid research, and is full of facts, interviews and case studies. Inevitably this means it’s not as quick and easy to read as a novel, but it’s far too interesting to be described as heavy going.
Who should read it?
I can’t think of a single woman I know who wouldn’t benefit from reading The Confidence Code. Certainly every businesswoman who wants to achieve a leadership role should read it. As they say, “It’s been half a century since women first forced open the boardroom doors and yet the workplace terrain still looks very different for women than it does for men.” The Confidence Code helps us change this.
It’s a real feel-good book because it confirms what you know intuitively but possibly haven’t examined up close. I loved gaining a deeper understanding of why we women behave as we do, and the facts about how we can improve our prospects by cultivating confidence.
I leave you with this final quote, one I find mightily powerful: “With diligent effort we can all choose to expand our confidence but we will get there only if we stop trying to be perfect and start being prepared to fail.”
How confident are you? Take The Confidence Code’s quiz here: http://theconfidencecode.com/confidence-quiz/
AUTHORS Claire Shipman and Katty Kay
Claire Shipman is a perfect example of what confidence can do for you – she began her career as a production assistant and intern at CNN’s bureau in New York City and now regularly interviews the world’s most influential newsmakers for Good Morning America and the ABC News network. Her colleague Katty Kay anchors BBC World News America and is another great example of self-confidence at work. Both are based in Washington DC.