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Building a Culture of Confidence


Confidence and competence: Two invaluable characteristics to possess in today’s professional environment. While these traits have different meanings, they are inextricably linked. Consistent research findings show men tend to overestimate their competence while women underestimate it, yet research has also shown that women tend to be more effective, and more competent, leaders.

The recent Oracle HCM Users Group (OHUG) Global Conference brought together hundreds of men and women in human resources technology for a workshop about how confidence can influence success within the industry. Among the topics discussed was how leaders, both male and female, can create an environment that brings out the best in others, and foster confidence across the board.

Make confidence an organizational goal

Inspiring change across organizations requires reinforcement from the top down. Offering trainings and forums for self-reflection, like the workshop held last month at OHUG, can help employees identify areas for development in how they portray themselves, speak publicly, or interact with others – and to address any growth opportunities accordingly. Fostering a culture of inclusion and facilitating new and innovative ways for leadership to invest in the development of top talent will ultimately lead to a much more productive, much more engaged (and happier!) workforce. At PwC, we often rely on Katty Kay and Claire Shipman’s The Confidence Code as inspiration for our workshop trainings and discussions.

Help all employees, regardless of gender, understand how to foster and affect confidence

It’s crucial that both men and women contribute to the conversation — help female employees understand how to stand up for themselves and make their voices heard, but also coach male employees to understand not only how they can support their female peers but also the benefit of doing so.

At a recent leadership meeting, microphones had been set up throughout the room for staff members to ask questions. So I was initially confused when I saw a senior leader step up to the microphone, but that feeling quickly gave way to inspiration. He said, “I’m up here for someone that would like to ask a question, but isn’t 100 percent comfortable in front of a large audience. I’d like everyone to welcome her to the microphone and recognize the courage it takes to ask a question.”

To me, that was a perfect example of something so simple that can have a profound impact. By bringing out the best in ourselves, we can bring out the best in others and benefit the organization as a whole.

Create a community to build confidence through mentorship

Every level within an organization’s hierarchy can contribute to confidence-building in the workplace. Mentors are invaluable resources who can not only motivate and coach, but can also help employees recognize in real-time the behaviors that undermine the appearance of confidence. Companies with structured mentorship programs are seeing strong interest and participation from the workforce. For example, PwC’s Women in Technology (WIT) initiative empowers more than 1,400 members throughout PwC’s global network of firms through a variety of avenues, including mentorship.

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