The old song says it’s a man’s world, and in some ways that’s still true. As a women who’s moved from the corporate-ladder climb to the risky and rewarding world of small-business ownership, I have more than once felt like a little girl playing dress-up in my industry-appropriate suit. Armed with my pitch, a fair quote, and a well-rehearsed message about why I’m worth what I’m asking, I have sat in front of numerous clients giving off a sense of inadequacy in my body language.
If only I had taken the time to read The Confidence Effect: Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude that Attracts Success. Fortune 50 talent industry veteran Grace Killelea takes all of the knowledge and experience she and numerous colleagues have gained as employees, leaders, managers, and leadership facilitators and teaches it in four key principles for women in business: relationships, reputation, results, and resilience.
Killelea recommends that the successful working woman develop a “confidence + competence toolkit.” With this, she writes, a woman is equipped equally with the skills and hard work most women rely on to bring them success (competence) and the professional and consistent brand that makes them a force to be reckoned with (confidence).
To build the kind of confidence that turns competence into success, Killelea emphasizes the four Rs. By developing quality relationships that empower, equip, train, and stretch a woman’s abilities and knowledge, Killelea writes, she places herself in new opportunities that build confidence. The book also highlights the value of having advocates, and the way that quality mentoring builds confidence and competence simultaneously.
Reputation may seem at first like a wholly external factor, but, instead, Killelea makes the point that how a woman perceives herself impacts how others perceive her, thus affecting the reputation she has with others. Here, Killelea writes, authenticity is the key to showing who you are and to accepting who you are — to the extent that it bleeds into your interactions with others.
But results are what is all about in the end. As Killelea puts it, “Confidence is like a mirror we hold up to reflect our accomplishments; the more we deliver, the more confidence we have.” Finally, she writes, resilience is what separates a one-hit wonder from a lasting success: the ability to bounce back will keep a woman in the game, and therefore keep her moving toward her goals.
Beyond the principles Killelea lays out, her book is useful in its practical tips, too. There are dozens of books available for confidence-building and leadership development, and, more specifically, books full of advice for women climbing the ladder. What makes The Confidence Effect different — and what made it more useful for me as an entrepreneur — are the practical steps. Killelea goes over things like how to network in new ways, how to develop your own brand, how to manage your own reputation, how to tell the difference between promises and results, how to evaluate your own performance, and how to endure challenges.
The book’s value also lies in the semi-Socratic method that Killelea uses to help the reader not just think, but analyze. By taking the time to investigate our own habits and the holes in our confidence, after all, we understand ourselves better. This fits the overall premise that professional growth starts with internal growth.
The book’s discussion of IQ (intelligence quotient) vs. EQ (emotional quotient) was also particularly helpful to me as it directly relates to resilience.
And although the book is aimed at women in the business world, I see it as valuable to woman who are leaders in other fields, too. Killelea could have either expanded the concepts to include all kinds of leadership roles, or focused even more narrowly on business skills. That said, the fact that the book applies to other types of women, and not just those in the corporate world, certainly isn’t a negative thing. Killelea accomplishes her goal clearly, concisely, and practically — making the reader feel as if she’s getting a one-on-one mentoring session.
The Confidence Effect: Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude that Attracts Success
AMACOM, January 2016
Hardcover, 224 pages