A version of this post appeared on LinkedIn.
The Edelman Global Women’s Executive Network (GWEN) team in Toronto recently hosted a panel discussion on the topic of confidence. The moderator was Lisa Kimmel, President and CEO of Edelman Canada, who was joined by MaryAnn Yule, president and CEO of HP Canada; Susan Uthayakumar, president of Schneider Electric Canada; and Kathy English, public editor of The Toronto Star. The women shared their experiences and key insights from their own confidence journeys.
These are my top five key takeaways from the panel on how women (and men) can lead with confidence:
1. Be authentic to yourself
Confidence starts with knowing who you are and what values you stand for. You need to be comfortable to admit what you know and what you don’t know. Though there may be times when “imposter syndrome” sets in, the panelists urged us to instead believe in our whole selves and own it. “Be yourself—be your best self—and kick it up a notch,” Yule said in her parting words.
2. You have the right and responsibility to contribute
Have a voice and point of view and the confidence to speak up. If you feel uncomfortable, don’t remove yourself from the table. Uthayakumar expressed the importance of taking the time to learn and build depth in the areas in which you are unfamiliar. This will be easier to do if you are prepared to participate in the conversation.
3. Learn to trust your judgement
It is easier to act with certainty when you focus on doing the right thing and rely on the core values of who you are. There will be times when we make mistakes or wrong decisions. As Uthayakumar described, the key is to fail fast and move on. Go back to your principles when navigating uncertain times and tough decisions.
4. Manage your personal energy
It is important to not feel guilty about the choices you are making, especially when you need to say no. English emphasized that it’s not your job to make everyone happy. Manage your personal energy by taking the space and time for yourself. Don’t be afraid of asking your manager/partner/colleague for what you need.
5. Be inclusive
Seek diversity of thought and be conscious of including everyone. To do this, you need to know your audience and be thoughtful and listen. Pay attention to the different dynamics of those around you and make special efforts to engage with those who are introverts. To create a culture of trust and collaboration, ensure all team members’ voices are heard and valued, and own and celebrate the wins together.
Catherine Yuile is an executive vice president, Insights & Analytics, Toronto.