“Step out of the history that is holding you back. Step into the new story you are willing to create.” Oprah Winfrey

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already; we have the power to imagine better.” J K Rowling

“Always aim high, work hard, and care deeply about what you believe in. And, when you stumble, keep faith. And, when you’re knocked down, get right back up and never listen to anyone who says you can’t or shouldn’t go on.” Hillary Clinton

These inspirational, high profile women all have something in common.

They all possess a mindset to change the game and break through barriers to advancement. They all have the ability to focus on the things they can change and stop worrying about those that are outside their control. It is their determination, persistence, confidence and self belief that drives them forward.

Their success whether it be in the corporate, political, or entertainment world is an inspiration to others and paves the way for the next generation of women to smash through the glass ceiling to realising their personal and professional ambitions.

So what is the mindset of these inspirational women and those who have climbed the corporate ladder to leadership roles?

Believe that you can

Believe in yourself and don’t let external factors get in the way of your success. Successful female leaders have the mindset that there are no barriers to themselves achieving their goal. They have no doubt that leadership is a career path open to them. Stop asking yourself if you can and stride ahead and do. The power of self belief leads to action and promotion.

Switch your language

It is a common trait amongst women to use vocabulary that has defeat already built in such as “I’ll try, but…” or “I’m hopeless at…” or “This is impossible.” This kind of negative language can sabotage success. Positive words can boost confidence and well being. They can change your perspective at work and in life and can trigger action to move your career forward. Start with positive self talk and consciously replace negative language with positive statements.

Accept Praise

Why is it that a compliment can bring on a cringe-worthy feeling? Countless research studies have shown that women have a tendency to downplay their success, to deflect compliments and struggle to accept praise without fear of being perceived arrogant. But in negating a compliment women are diminishing their abilities and worth. So claim your achievements, take credit where it is due and value the opinion of others.

Let go of perfection

Striving for perfection might seem like it is a positive but the relentless need to get things absolutely perfect is more often a negative and limits career potential. The constant need to deliver perfection cannot only be exhausting and stressful but can lead to missed opportunities, risk avoidance and a lack of confidence. It is through making mistakes that we learn and grow. When we take risks opportunities often present themselves to unleash creativity and innovation, to be a better problem solver, gain confidence and develop skills to become a great leader.

Give yourself permission to make mistakes and switch off the inner voice that tells you “I’m not sure I can do this, I’ve not done this before.” Or “I’m not ready, this is not good enough.” Don’t fixate on being perfectly ready or perfectly qualified. Remember striving for perfection ironically keeps us from getting things done.

As Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook famously said “Done is better than perfect.”

Female Leadership: Unlock The Secret Mindset Of A Successful Woman In Business

Be Fearless

The author and business woman Arianna Huffington once said “we need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

No woman has found herself in a leadership role without taking risks. New opportunities and challenges are an everyday part of life and it is okay to be hesitant or fearful. But don’t let the fear be a barrier to pursuing your goal. Use the fear to propel you forward. By taking risks, challenging yourself and sometimes making mistakes you may uncover a new skill, get critical the required feedback to grow and learn and validation to boost confidence.


Self advocacy is often an uncomfortable act for women but without it your voice is lost. Successful women take ownership of their strengths and talent and promote their achievements and the value they bring to an organisation. Don’t wait to get noticed. Take control of your career, know your own worth and develop a comfort level in self talk to boost your confidence in advocating for success.

Be Authentic

In the past women have felt the need to mimic the traits, behaviours and even the dress (remember the power suit) of the men they work with to find success. But in today’s world businesses need the natural leadership strengths that women bring to the table. Typically women bring a collaborative inclusive approach, clear communication, emotional intelligence, creativity, and openness and honesty to the workplace. Own these leadership qualities and stay true to yourself.

Cure the disease to please

Annie Leibovitz the famous American portrait photographer once said, “you have to trust in what you think. If you splinter yourself and try to please everyone, you can’t.”

Whether it’s in our personal or professional lives the “disease to please” is a challenge many women face with the expectation that we can achieve it all, say yes to everything and everyone yet spread ourselves too thin. But being overloaded does not serve long-term career ambitions and jeopardises well being. Successful female leaders in business know how to share the load. Their actions serve themselves as well as others and they have the confidence and resilience to say “no.”

Do not self select

It is important for women not to self select themselves out of leadership roles. Research findings show that women are more cautious than men about promotions. This might be because of the impact it may have on their personal lives or the anticipation that they will be discriminated against if they apply but it can also be a lack of confidence and the feeling that they are not 100% qualified. The decision not to try is a decision based on fear and a perceived feeling of inadequacy. Know that you deserve to be there.

Make a plan

In any area of life it is easy to lose focus when you don’t know the direction you are going. Women who successfully climb the corporate ladder have a plan and clear career goals. It is these long term goals that provide direction. So start with understanding what you wish to achieve, set time frames and focus on small steps to quickly achieve, confidence boosting, mini victories. Be open with others about your aspirations and ambitions to find the support network that can help you get there. Remember your goals are likely to change over time so be adaptable, don’t be afraid to fail and use the lessons learnt to guide you towards a successful career.

Build your network

It is almost impossible to achieve success without the support of others. Successful women cultivate relationships with stakeholders who support, mentor and can advocate on their behalf. Find a sponsor who encourages you to step outside your comfort zone and has the power and influence to open doors to new and exciting opportunities.

Female Leadership: Unlock The Secret Mindset Of A Successful Woman In Business

Connect with other women

When women connect with other women they feel validated, empowered and supported to take on new challenges. It is far easier to overcome gender bias and cultural obstacles as a community that can harness collective energy. Sharing ideas, best practice and knowledge with other women seeking career advancement can relieve anxiety, fear and the realisation that you are not alone. Remember this inspirational quote “behind every successful woman there is a tribe of other successful women who have her back.”

Delegate and Empower

A leader cannot be all things to all people. As your career progresses with more and more responsibilities so do the demands on your time. Female business leaders leverage the skill of delegation and empower others to get the work done so they can focus on strategic responsibilities that offer the opportunity for learning, growth and advancement.

Always be learning

To climb the corporate ladder of leadership requires an open mind. Learning and developing our skills is as important as when you are in a senior position as it was at the start of your career. A willingness to learn is critical to success because when we stop learning we stop growing and start to fall behind. Invest in yourself to expand your knowledge, learn new ideas, be open to new challenges and reap the rewards.

So in summary

Take small steps. Try something new and take a chance

Shut down that negative voice and just go for it

Take a risk. Be brave. You never know until you try

Step outside your comfort zone and doors will open

Keep going no matter. Be determined and persistent

The House of Balance coaching for women in business programme can support you on your journey to leadership. Our experienced coaches understand what is often holding women back from confidently stepping into senior roles. The corporate world is slowly changing, doors are opening and our coaches can help you walk through to success and happiness.

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