When faced with their first opportunity to run a team, new leaders can often feel as if they must take a fight or flight method to their new responsibility. Some new leaders become quickly acquainted with their position and are able to bulldoze their way to the top. Some new leaders though end up feeling overwhelmed with the new pressure and responsibility they were not expecting. New leaders come in all shapes and sizes, everything from Millennials fresh out of college to Baby Boomers getting promoted later in their career. While “the who” around new leaders is different across the board, the all have one thing in common: doubt.
According to the Leaders in Transition report from DDI, about 34% of the participants felt frustrated, anxious, and uncertain about their transition or new leadership role. And among these new leaders, about 42% of them are women in the workplace.
Luckily, we’re at a point where women are getting more opportunities to rise in their companies and receive sponsorship and mentorship from their corporate management. And even after receiving such leadership promotions, women often felt as if they were not prepared well enough compared to their male counterparts, according to this Harvard Business Review study.
And although the number of women in leadership is growing it is still far from being an equal distribution between genders. In his blog post Are Women in Leadership Better Executives than Men, my co-worker Mark Miller cited an ATD study showing that Fortune 500 companies keep themselves at the top by hiring more women to executive roles. ATD even noted that the Top 20% of companies had about 37% of women in leadership compared to the Bottom 20% that have only 19%.
Through the process of re-norming the data collected from our Emergenetics Profile, Emergenetics International has increasingly seen a decline in the difference between how men and women report their preferences. In fact, our most recent re-norming process shows that there is no statistically relevant difference between their answers and we are now showing Emergenetics Profiles compared to the general population as opposed to others of their same gender.
Yet, despite this equality in the mind, in work competencies, and performance output women are still greatly outnumbered by men in the workplace? The answer could lie in self-doubt, something that all new leaders, especially women, face.
No matter your gender though, the more you understand your behavioral preferences the better personal strategy you can devise for overcoming self-doubt and better position you to achieve the executive role you desire. Here are some tips based on the three Emergenetics behavior attributes (Expressiveness, Assertiveness, and Flexibility). Everyone exhibits these attributes, but the way you do it will depend on where you fall on the spectrum which is divided into thirds. Here we’ll look at the two ends- the 1/3 and the 3/3.
Expressiveness: The outward display of emotions and what you share with the outside world.
- 1/3 Expressives: If you find yourself to be quieter and more introspective in the workplace, this can easily be a problem in being skipped over in the job search unless you make your feelings known. If there is an opportunity for which you feel you are the best fit make it known to your superiors.
- 3/3 Expressives: Falling more towards the gregarious side of Expressiveness may mean that you feel at ease to share your thoughts on a workplace matter. But remember to choose your words wisely, and if you’re talking about a new position that you want to go after, make sure you’re talking to the people who are in a position to make it happen…. Not just anyone who will listen.
Assertiveness: The style and pace with which you advance thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
- 1/3 Assertives: You are accustomed to seeing the competitiveness between coworkers when a job promotion emerges. Usually, you tend to stick to being outside the discussion, but if it is something that you really want, don’t be afraid to face a little competition yourself.
- 3/3 Assertives: Your will to win is something that your managers and team value in the workplace. But make sure that taking the opportunity to pursue a position is not to just “win” the spot but to truly believe that you are what they are looking for.
Flexibility: Your willingness to accommodate the thoughts, actions and feelings of others.
- 1/3 Flexibles: If you are in the first-third of flexibility, relocating for a job promotion might not sound like your favorite idea (unless it was yours in the first place). But be careful, sometimes you have to embrace a new situation in order to advance in your career.
- 3/3 Flexibles: Those in the third-third of flexibility often have a “go with the flow” attitude in the workplace. Sometimes though, being too flexible may make it seem that you are not serious about your position or that you are easily pushed over. When there’s a change that you are not happy with, say something instead of letting it happen.
Understanding your own behavioral preferences in the workplace will help new leaders, men and women alike, to feel a little more comfortable with getting out of their comfort zone and develop strategies for overcoming self-doubt.