Tips for Building Confidence and Success

While we are seeing an increase in the number of African Americans in leadership positions, the data still highlights a surprisingly low representation when it comes to Blacks in C-Suite leadership roles.

It’s clear that companies need to prioritize inclusion in the workplace, as well as better pathways to corporate leadership for employees of color. That said, black professionals currently in leadership or moving up the ranks to leadership positions also deserve targeted support. Common barriers include, but are not limited to, racial microaggressions, pressure to lead diversity initiatives, biases in hiring and promotions, and more. These challenges add difficulty to what may already be a stressful job or work environment.

The good news: There’s an entire online community of Black leaders and entrepreneurs working to support each other and offer tools for success — in and out of the office.

Below is a list of tips and resources for Black professionals and leaders looking for career advancement and increased confidence in 2022:

Navigating Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome is defined as “the persistent inability to perceive success as deserved and as a direct result of your skills”. For black leaders, especially women, this feeling can come quite naturally. A 2020 Washington Post To analyse shows that only 8% of the top executives of the 50 most valuable public companies were black. Add to that the effects of systemic racial bias, implicit and explicit – holding leadership positions can isolate black leaders.

It is crucial to challenge this perception with reminders that you belong and are, in fact, qualified for your current role and more.

Some tips for dealing with impostor syndrome:

  • Find a mentor. It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process. Keep an eye out for people in similar positions or in positions you want to get. The best news: in 2022, mentors can be virtual. Don’t be afraid to send a direct message to a leader you resonate with, even if they work in an entirely different industry. Best-case scenario: You end up establishing a connection that helps you navigate your current role. Worst case scenario: they say no or refer you to other resources that may be helpful.
  • Identify your skills and accomplishments. Take the time to write down all the things you do well, your favorite compliments, and the accomplishments you are most proud of. Post them somewhere where you will be regularly reminded of your full potential and why you deserve to occupy the space you are in.
  • Talk about your experience. Feel free to share your experience with your close friends and family. Chances are they can relate and will validate that your feelings, while difficult, are normal. Finally, don’t be afraid to take advantage of therapy or mental health resources to address the deeper reasons why you doubt yourself.

Maintaining boundaries and assertiveness

Having been historically associated with negative character traits like “anger” and “aggressiveness,” it is common for black leaders to feel pressured to be overly accommodating and friendly. While code-switching is real and often necessary due to racial bias, it is equally important for Black professionals and leaders to maintain healthy boundaries in the workplace.

In and out of negotiations, it is important to set boundaries early. Whether you’re being bullied or intimidated or just feel like you’re being treated unfairly, take the time to address any behavior you feel is inappropriate. If you are concerned about backlash or bias, bring in a third party (preferably HR) and take the time to practice addressing your concerns – remembering to stick to the facts.

Preparing for salary negotiations and self-advocacy

On average, black men earn 87 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. 2020 median incomes show black women earning 67 cents for every dollar earned by their white male counterparts. Salary negotiation is crucial for all professionals, but even more important for African Americans. Every cap is a new low – so starting strong is necessary to achieve your long-term salary goals.

Although it sounds daunting, a simple change in mindset can make salary negotiations feel perfectly normal and even comfortable.

Confidence in practice

Social media creates the illusion that every professional has the utmost confidence in themselves and their professional abilities. The truth is that we all encounter obstacles to trust. Common obstacles include fear of failure, fear of losing respect, threats to our identity and more. For black leaders, increased pressure and expectations, as well as microaggressions in the workplace can also contribute to a lack of trust. The key to overcoming these obstacles: practice.

  • Diverge from outcome-based delivery and focus on process improvement
  • Implement new mental habits and perspectives – accept failure as a learning opportunity necessary for ultimate success
  • Use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Overcome Fear
  • Practice self-compassion and forgiveness

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important that I be afraid.” –Audre Lorde

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