Everyone could benefit from a little more power and confidence in the workplace, but studies have shown that women in particular tend to be more hesitant about wielding the kinds of skills and behavior typically associated with leaders. If you’re looking for a way to boost your own presence at work and feel more in control of your career, here are some of the things that badass, powerful women never do.
1. They don’t downplay their achievements
Many women feel like talking openly about their achievements is arrogant or braggy. On the contrary, owning your success (and the steps you took to get there) is one of the most effective ways to advance your career. Being open about your success gives you concrete accomplishments you can point to in job interviews or raise negotiations.
2. They don’t avoid confrontation
Openly disagreeing with someone (like a colleague or superior) may feel aggressive and out of line, but debate can be healthy—and someone else isn’t necessarily right simply because they’re saying it in public. If you disagree, or have a differing perspective, don’t be shy about saying so (in a professionally appropriate way, of course).
3. They don’t trash others to get ahead
What was true in high school is still true in the workplace: smack talkers always get caught up in the drama in the end. Spreading rumors or denigrating others just so you might look better is not a good look for anyone. And if others know or think you can’t be trusted, you can expect the same treatment from others. Power comes from succeeding—not from stepping on other people.
4. They don’t let criticism derail them
At some point, everyone comes up against some harsh criticism, a bad review, or a professional rejection of some sort. That doesn’t have to define you or your career. Powerful people take the criticism for what it is, learn what they can, make adjustments, and move on.
5. They don’t let abusive behavior go unchecked
Whether it’s something as serious as harassment or simply not standing up to inappropriate behavior at work, calling it out doesn’t make you a snitch or a weak-looking victim. If you see or experience behavior that makes you uncomfortable, it’s on you to decide how to best approach it—whether that’s reporting through a Human Resources process or voicing your discomfort with the person directly.
6. They don’t internalize mistakes as personal failings
If something goes wrong at work, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your personality or skills are defective. The power move is to acknowledge what happened (“This was a choice I made, and this is why it was wrong.”), correct the course, and move on. Work fails are not necessarily personal fails.
7. They don’t fear failure
Failing at something is demoralizing for everyone, no matter how confident you normally are. But truly powerful people have confidence in their skills and abilities, and understand that failure isn’t a game-ender. Instead, think of it as a game-changer. It’s a chance to regroup, rethink, and be better.
8. They don’t let self-doubt run the show
Everyone has self-doubt sometimes. Every. Single. Person. The trick is not letting that derail your progress by hesitating and overthinking what your next steps are. Sometimes you have to overrule your doubting brain and go with your instincts. You have skills and experience that are guiding you—don’t let that get pushed out by that little voice saying, “But what if I’m wrong/not talented enough/not prepared?”
Confidence and power are within reach for all of us—all personalities, experience levels, and walks of life. At the root of all of it is knowing who you are, what you bring, and what you want to achieve. You know better than anyone what you’re capable of achieving. Don’t be afraid to be bold!
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