BY EVANS MATHANDA
Self-confidence is one of the elements of handling a set of behaviours central to executive success.
The issue about why women prefer to elect their male counterparts into leadership positions has been a question about confidence building for women seeking to advance in leadership in today’s world.
But most importantly we need to be careful when discussing “lack of confidence” as a comprehensive term.
It is very vital to remember that confidence can be context specific.
Both men and women are actually a display of different levels of confidence in different aspects of lives.
Women face a composite and interrelated series of pressures, inequities and obstacles in both their careers and their lives, especially when it comes to women who cannot elect other women to lead them.
Women comprise less than a quarter of middle level leaders, and that number shrinks even further at each stage of the corporate ladder, according to United Nations Women.
One of the reasons for the tenacious and glaring inequality of women in politics and other leadership positions is compounded not only by the systemic and structural problems they face, but lack of confidence in electing other women is a cause for concern.
Like part of the reason they suffer from a lack of confidence, women in politics lack honest conversation or meaningful resources to help them understand and navigate some challenges they face.
The constant guessing and self-reflection on what they can or cannot do has a significant impact on their ability to advance in leadership positions.
It’s a confidence crisis in both ways, the aspiring female leaders and those who should elect them.
Citizens Coalition for Change vice-president Lynatte Karenyi-Kore recently said that, even though one fails to make it at the first instance, consistency is very crucial and women must learn how to master the art of appearing both sure of themselves and being modest.
Some gender activists say women are quick to promote others and their efforts, but not themselves.
A new book by Susan MacKenty Brady, Janet Foutty and Lynn Perry Wooten seeks to demonstrate how women can navigate leadership positions especially in politics.
Being a confident and authentic leader means recognising that everyone is individually different and using it as an advantage.
Increasing self-confidence through the right feedback can help female leaders adapt to different environments and be able to communicate and ensure that their leadership qualities are correctly perceived by those they lead.
Persistent and successful women leaders, who have reached the top use feminine archetypes of legitimate power and authority to display confidence according to Vander Broeck.
I believe confidence is a matter of mind set and aspiring female leaders can be the authentic women leaders they want to be.
Feminists say male leaders do not face a basic role conflict similar to the conflict that female leaders face because expectations about behaviour that is appropriate for a leader match largely with beliefs about the behaviour that is appropriate for men.
Is it that men are open to carry out leadership in a range of styles without encountering negative reactions because their leadership is ordinarily perceived as legitimate?
The correlation between self-confidence and leadership effectiveness remains an important issue among female leaders.
At the recent election sensitisation workshop in Harare, Zanu PF legislator Tatenda Mavetera said there were so many voices insisting that women and their lack of self-confidence were the “missing factor in women’s leadership.”
But so many women leaders today have exhibited the skills required to become industrial leaders in best practice and to earn that honour, self-confidence is the primary factor.
A 2020 study by Cornell University found that despite no difference in the actual performance of men and women, men overestimate their abilities and performance while women underestimate both.
Some have questioned whether the confidence gap between men and women in leadership really exists and what could be triggering it.
Above all, it is important to explore how we can overcome it to get more women in leadership positions.
Women need more support to encourage them to play with their strengths and to let go of things they perceive as weaknesses.
- Evans Mathanda is a journalist and development practitioner who writes in his personal capacity. For feedback email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0719770038 and Twitter @EvansMathanda19