By Valerie Martinelli, MPA – Leadership, Life, & Career Coach/ HR & Management Consultant

Women compose half of the workforce and earn more college and graduate degrees than men do. Companies employing large numbers of women outperform their competitors. We benefit from having women in government as well because our interests are equally represented. While we have made undeniable progress and those who closely follow the shift in societal values see the world moving in a female direction.

Yet, men continue to run us circles by getting paid more and getting promoted faster and half a century since our career trajectories have begun to change, they still look vastly different than men’s. While we can continue to blame these trajectories on our maternal instincts and a possible shift in our priorities, however, that is not the entire reason why women have yet to truly succeed.

So, what is the single most important trait for women to succeed and excel in the workplace? Confidence. Self-confidence is one of the most studied concepts in modern social science and matters just as much in the workplace as competence. Without confidence, leadership skills cannot be developed because women do not understand that they are capable of becoming leaders. What I have been finding in my own coaching is that there are women who very much fear their own power. Knowing who you are and being comfortable in that takes many of us a long time. When the fears have shifted for women, then they become more comfortable leaning into their power and discussing their professional goals.

The Psychology of Confidence

Confidence by those who study the subject is the degree to which we think and feel your actions will achieve positive results. It is important to note that confidence and self-esteem are not the same thing. Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself. Confidence refers to your belief and feel that you can complete a task successfully. However, the better you feel about yourself the easier it becomes to build confidence for a specific task. Being confident gives you an edge in life and your actions influence your results. Failing to recognize this can lead you not to make your best efforts since the outcome will be out of your control. By accepting that you can influence the outcome of a situation, you are creating a sense of control and that initiates confidence. Being confident is what gives you the edge in life.

Confident people grew up with a realistic appraisal of their appraisal of their abilities and therefore knew where they stood. This allowed them to develop a strategy and a plan to strengthen themselves and to use developments to create a positive feedback loop that strengthened their perception they can influence outcome, a perception that reduces anxiety when you enter pressure moments. If you can’t envision yourself being successful, confidence will be difficult to come by. Confident people play positive visualizations of themselves, took criticism productively, had a supportive background, and experienced a confidence building event.

Read the rest of Valerie’s article on the League website tomorrow!


Valerie Martinelli, MPA is the CEO & Owner of Valerie Martinelli Consulting, LLC and Founder of Innovate 50/50. Connect with Val on Twitter @AskVMC or via website