Women in leadership: 


Women in leadership: 

How to cultivate confidence and healthy assertion in the corporate world

Women in leadership make strong, ambitious leaders who strive for inclusivity and innovation. And yet, despite our achievements, we still represent a small percentage of leaders worldwide. 

From a lack of women in leadership development opportunities to societal pressures, many challenges may contribute to women’s struggle for self-belief, and these confidence issues can heavily impact professional progression. A recent study revealed that whilst 64% of women aspire to be a senior leader of a company or organisation, 56% feel more cautious about stepping into a leadership role, and 59% find it hard to see themselves as a leader.  

So, how can women cultivate more confidence in the corporate world and rise the ranks? Here’s everything I’ve learned from 25+ years working with women to reset their relationships with themselves and others. 

9 ways to be a more confident female leader
in the workplace 

  1. Get clear on what you want and need to succeed

Confident, career-oriented women are sometimes seen as ‘selfish’ or ‘opinionated’ because these qualities challenge archaic, domestic norms, but there’s nothing wrong with setting boundaries and clarifying your wants and needs. 

Set aside time to ask yourself questions about where you are vs. where you want to be. Once you’ve figured out the bigger picture, think about things you need to do or put in place to meet your goals. Find clarity free from outside opinions first so you can dig deep and learn to advocate for yourself in whatever room you find yourself in. 

Clarity acquired? Sit down with your partner and share your aspirations and intentions. Be clear about the life you envision for your family and what you need to make it logistically viable. Give one another time to process any thoughts, ask questions, find compromises where necessary, and plan the next steps. 

  1. Get comfortable with ambiguity and learn as you go

It turns out you don’t have to be overqualified and overprepared for everything you do. Who knew?! Women often convince themselves they need to know everything about everything before they can own their expertise, but all good leaders learn and respond on the job. 

Grow comfortable with not knowing all the answers and creating a culture where it’s favourable to come back to a question once you’ve clarified your thinking. If something comes up that you aren’t sure about, say, ‘I’ll get back to you on that’. No one will think any less of you when you’re demonstrating such integrity, so soften your defences and find enough confidence in your existing knowledge to not feel threatened when the unknown arises. 

If you feel a freeze coming on, do a quick grounding exercise. Feel your feet on the floor. Notice your breath. Hold awareness of where you are and return to the moment knowing ambiguity isn’t the enemy.

  1. Build an internal support network 

Our male counterparts recognise that connection is key and often recruit the support of their colleagues when they’re eyeing promotions to help boost their profile and improve their chances. So, why can’t we do that too?! 

A study on women’s leadership found that whilst 70% of women felt an obligation to help women advance in the workplace, only 33% had supported other female employees with their career advancement. It’s far easier to put ourselves forward when we’re surrounded by people cheering us on, so take time to build an internal support network that has your back.

Nurture your workplace relationships, leverage the support of your trusted colleagues, and create amiable allies who will happily sing your praises when the time comes. 

  1. Build an external support network

Being a confident female leader isn’t isolated to how we feel within the four walls of our offices. We also need to build a diligent support network at home so we can confidently walk into work each morning knowing everything is running as smoothly as possible. 

Start curating a trustworthy team of people who can make your home life 100x easier. From childminders to cleaners, gardeners to diary organisers, dog walkers to therapists, there are plenty of people out there to help you succeed. 

Strong leadership is all about knowing when to delegate to people with more time, experience and skills. Ease your anxieties by acknowledging that no (wo)man is an island and asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness.   

  1. Allow for mistakes and befriend failure

If there’s one uncomfortable truth women need to come to terms with, it’s this: perfection is unattainable. The never-ending quest for perfection holds us back from embracing opportunities, venturing outside our comfort zones, and expanding our professional horizons and confidence levels. 

Women in leadership are often judged far harsher when we make mistakes, which leads to us judging ourselves far more harshly too. But where does that leave us? What opportunities pass us by? What parts of ourselves do we hide? How much harder do we have to work? 

You might never have a spotless house, feel 100% about every decision you make, master the perfect work-life balance, or walk a seamless career path, and that’s okay! It’s time to loosen our expectations and allow for ‘failures’ so we can continue to learn and grow in ways that challenge and inspire us in equal measure.  

Related – Are you a perfectionist? Or can you give yourself permission to get it wrong?

  1. Search for professional inspiration 

Whilst the corporate world is changing rapidly, society is still yet to spotlight a wealth of diverse role models we can all look up to, and that lack of visibility can skew our self-belief. A nationwide study revealed that 57% of women felt having a relatable role model was crucial to achieving career success, and 70% agreed it was easier to be like someone you can see. 

We might not be equally represented in boardrooms, but we can source powerful female role models and mentors from all kinds of places. From fictional characters to community leaders, loved ones to former colleagues, we’re free to find inspiration everywhere. Think about the female leaders you’d most like to emulate, well-known or not, and conduct some research and analysis.  

What qualities do they radiate? How do they hold themselves and present their thoughts? Why does their work resonate with others? How did they get to where they are today? Explore what makes them exceptional, and look at how you can bottle that magic for yourself. Cultivate additional confidence by becoming the kind of leader other women and girls can aspire to. 

  1. Develop your unique leadership style 

It’s hard to feel confident in yourself when you’re diluting your personality, compromising your values and parroting the leadership style of every boss you’ve ever worked with. I’ve seen plenty of powerful women lose their sense of self once they step into a senior role, often taking on misplaced masculine energy that feels adrift from who they are outside the office. 

All great, forward-thinking leaders, however, are driven by their own unique sense of purpose and identity. Find untapped confidence by lighting that fire and letting it fuel your decision-making and the actions you take going forward.

That fire will attract the attention of your peers, clients, colleagues and beyond, and it’ll serve to motivate and inspire you as you cement your position as an authentic, assertive leader. There’s a great deal of power and self-assurance to be found in being your authentic self so focus on developing a leadership style that feels good and true. 

  1. Push through imposter syndrome

I’ve worked with many clients who have confidently progressed throughout their careers only to crumble when they reach the top. When the external validation from line managers and the like is suddenly stripped away, it’s harder to keep imposter syndrome in check and our confidence can nosedive. 

Imposter syndrome has us fearing our success isn’t deserved or our efforts aren’t enough and that can impact every single decision we make. We start seeking the approval of others, overthinking the next steps, and questioning our leadership abilities, and that anxious energy can have a seismic impact on our mental wellbeing and the way we see ourselves. 

Remind yourself how you got to where you are in the first place. What training and qualifications do you have? What have you been able to achieve? What qualities and experiences have enriched your role? Remember: you wouldn’t have been promoted if people didn’t think you were hugely capable and worth the investment. You’re where you’re meant to be. 

Related – How comparing yourself to others can lead to low self-esteem

  1. Join a training programme for women in leadership 

You don’t have to cultivate confidence alone.

The most effective leaders recognise their limitations and strive to learn and grow from those in the know, so why should your journey be any different? There are a wealth of resources, mentoring schemes and training courses available to help you develop your skills, reframe your thinking, and reach career milestones. 

When I’m not working with clients in the therapy room, I’m busy facilitating leadership development programmes as a Director at Asatoma. I’ll work with you to identify areas where you’re compromising your success so you can stop standing in your own way and start realising your potential. Leave with unshakeable self-confidence and strategies to help you stand in your power for years to come! 


We’re all human. We all face challenges and insecurities from time to time. Accelerate your professional potential by mobilising your support network, honouring your unique perspective, and giving yourself the grace to learn and grow. 

Keep taking small, significant steps towards building your confidence, and you’ll soon lean into leadership with ease and excitement for what’s ahead.  

Bookmark my blog, or follow me on LinkedIn for even more ways to reset your personal and professional relationships in 2024. 


If you’re interested in the Courage to be a Woman leadership development programme, email me on info@asatoma.org or call 0333 355 7390.

Share this post

Psychotherapy delves deep into the root causes of your symptoms.  Psychotherapy in Solihull, encompasses a multitude of approaches, each offering a wide range of tools that help different people.