The Top 5 Myths that Limit Women Leaders
Nikita Jain, Founder & CEO, Eubrics, CALI Coach
Becoming a leader as a woman will never be a fairy tale with one happy ending; on the contrary, it will be a constant pursuit with many victories and failures.
This article is about my personal experiences of the challenges that confront professional Indian women, and Asian women generally, as they prepare for and achieve their career goals while also balancing their personal priorities.
Here are some of my observations, including the top five myths that limit women leaders, both in India and globally, and my suggestions for counteracting them:
Myth 1: Ambition is a Bad Word
Women are often labeled as bossy or impatient when they display leadership characteristics that are associated with drive and success in men. Dream big and chase your goals without worrying about these labels. For me, ambition fuels perseverance and resilience. It helps me believe that I deserve the success I’m seeking. Verbalize your desire, and you will see it becoming more real in your own and others’ minds. This strategy will help you to overcome derogatory labels and enable you to garner support and take on more challenging opportunities at work.
Myth 2: Perfection Is the Only Way to Succeed
The biggest roadblock that I have observed for Asian women leaders is their tendency to insist on perfecting something, while men raise their hands even if they are only partially ready. Research from Harvard indicates that women often lack the self-confidence to apply for jobs for which they don’t see themselves as 100% qualified. It is important to start evaluating your opportunities beyond the rule book. Skills like relationship-building, drive, and communication can make women ideal candidates for big opportunities at work. Constant learning and hard work are essential for both men and women.
Myth 3: You Cannot “Have It All”
Research proves that women are great jugglers. I use this skill all the time to stay productive and energized. As I work towards success, I simultaneously admire the beauty of trees and plants, learning lessons of evolution and adaptability from them. My personal and coaching experiences with other women have helped me realize that most women can plan, think, and execute multiple tasks at one time—in short, they can “have it all.” Use this to your advantage!
Myth 4: Your Networks Cannot Be a Part of Your Career Journey
Bosses, friends, family, and other women can serve as a much-needed support system and share your life decisions. There are so many social networks for women available today, enabling women to connect with and support each other. As a woman who has battled with varied career challenges, I feel that my journey has benefited from significant contributions from supportive friends, relatives, and colleagues. Find your advocates, counselors, and motivators throughout your career, and offer the same help to other women. Make time to stay in touch and build deeper relationships with them.
Myth 5: Taking ‘Me Time’ Is Selfish
Many women I have met are conditioned by their societies to think of others before themselves. They feel guilty when they take time away for their own comfort. But I have realized the hard way that life is a marathon, and refueling frequently is key to survival. This is true for both men and women leaders. For that reason, the field must be leveled when it comes to taking personal time. My simple trick to gain ‘me time’ is to divide my goals into small, achievable milestones. This helps me become more productive and make time for my own health and hobbies. I have a daily workout built into my schedule to stay physically fit. I keep time for traveling because it is revitalizing to draw inspiration from other cultures, art, and people. ‘Me time’ is a golden opportunity for women to zoom out and celebrate their own journeys.
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