Stop Hiding Your Best Self at Work

women and leadership

As girls, we were exposed to the word "don't" more than any other word on the planet.

"Don't sit with your legs open."

"Don't curse."

"Don't be too aggressive."

"Don't be the center of attention."

"Don't be bossy."

Girls are molded. Boys are allowed more freedom to be themselves. So when you are constantly told what to do and what not to do, it starts to affect your confidence. You become hyper-aware of what you are doing and saying.

And so begins the cycle of not wanting to make mistakes and not wanting to take risks. And then all of us become women in the professional workforce. Which is where I meet you.

A 360 assessment enables you to rate yourself and receive ratings from your manager, peers, and direct reports. I conduct 360 assessments with all kinds of people. But there has been a pattern with a lot of women: we tend to rate ourselves far worse than anyone else rates us.

In essence, we are pulling down our own scores - mostly because of all of the conditioning and molding we experienced as little girls.  We are taught to be humble, to not brag or boast.

So when it comes time for women to rate ourselves, we undervalue our abilities, our strengths, and our contributions. We don't want to give ourselves a 5 out of 5. So we give ourselves a 3 or a 3.5, just to play it safe.  We lower our own ratings.

And this extends to self-evaluations during performance reviews, negotiating for raises, asking for assignments, launching a new business, and so much more.

Our inner dialogue gets the best of us, because it is a culmination of years of being told what not to do. So to avoid being reprimanded or even being the center of attention, we diminish our light. If it isn't perfect, we don't do it. If we are unsure, we don't say it. If we stay at work until midnight working on a project, we don't tell anyone. We work in silence, we suffer in silence, and we excel in silence.

And all of this has to stop. I don't want to see any more self-evaluations with one paragraph, instead of pages of accomplishments. I no longer want to see women rate themselves significantly lower than their direct reports or manager.

So if you are reading this, this is your wake-up call to stop being your worst critic.  Become your best cheerleader. Launch your business at 80%, instead of waiting for the absolute perfect moment. (There are no perfect moments - only moments that are more perfect than others). Brag on your skills. Tell people about your accomplishments. It is time for us to be bold and courageous and to stop hiding our best selves at the office.