Real women: Kerinda Ibbotson, Sales & Marketing Director, The Cardinal Group
Kerinda has worked in the corporate world and is now a director for a medium-sized business. We discuss confidence, motivation and resilience at work and what she has learnt about career progression.
Confidence at work
I think that the key to managing confidence is overcoming fear. You need to work out what you are afraid of and once you have done that you can start to overcome it. It’s important to remember that everyone has an Achilles’ heel, no matter how important or successful they may appear. We all fear something, whether it’s public speaking or failing at an important task but once we’ve accepted that we’re all just human, the right attitude will result in growing confidence.
I believe it’s important to select strong, confident women as role models. Social media can limit your confidence as women are bombarded with celebrities’ ‘perfect’ lives. Follow just a few strong women (especially sportswomen and business leaders), read their books and learn how they developed confidence.
I’ll never forget a talk I went to years ago called ‘Walking Tall’ by a woman called Lesley Everett. She stressed the importance of image and personal branding and remembering what she said has given me confidence. If you want to be taken seriously you must dress appropriately and be remembered for what you say, not what you were wearing. Make sure you look and smell the part – this also applies to men. I found this useful advice particularly when I worked in a male-dominated environment and I needed the confidence to get my voice heard.
Motivation and having a positive attitude are part learned, part personality. If you want to be successful, you need to set yourself goals and develop good techniques and habits that will keep you motivated. I’ve learned that it can take as little as three weeks to develop a new habit so if you’re aiming for a particular goal, repetition is really important. Never giving up and driving yourself even in the darkest days are when you know true motivation. But I do believe motivation is in all of us and sometimes we need help to find it.
A former boss used to tell me that you’ve got to let people fall over and get a few scrapes and that makes them stronger. That was a tough role for me as I was left to make my own mistakes but this taught me resilience and perseverance. Like a boxer, you have to get up and fight again. If you strongly believe in something, who is anyone to say you can’t do it? However, if you find yourself working in a male-dominated environment like I did, be a strong woman in a ‘man’s world’ and don’t try to act like a man. Develop mental toughness.
The three things that have really helped me progress my career are:
- Self-belief – telling myself that I CAN do something
- Self-motivation – telling myself that I WILL do something and learning not to give up
- Perseverance and mental toughness
My advice to other women would be ‘don’t be so hard on yourself’. Make sure you have some downtime, some mental stillness and practise mindfulness. This can be easier said than done, but it’s so important. Also, have an ‘outlet’ – this could be a friend, partner or coach. Someone you can just be yourself with, share your vulnerabilities and fears with and someone who won’t judge but listen.
Mentoring and coaching
I have used both mentors and coaches at work. Some have been paid for by the organisation and some I have hired myself. Both are useful because they help bring an outside view, a different perspective, they challenge the individual and help reframe negative thoughts. Another advantage is that they can help design a strategy to get you to where you want to be.
I preferred working with coaches that I hired independently as I felt they were more effective – they were away from the day-to-day business and had experience of a broad client base.
Do you have any other advice for women seeking to accelerate their career?
My advice would be:
- work out your goal – what are you trying to achieve?
- know when you’re in the wrong job and when to walk away
- understand what fears are and how they can be overcome
- focus on what you need to do
- be realistic
- take time out
- don’t be a product of ‘over-coaching’ – and remember too much advice can also be a bad thing
- be yourself, not a diluted version of you
- don’t beat yourself up
- try not to over-think things
- try not to listen to your negative inner voice
- surround yourself with people who radiate energy, not people who are ‘energy vampires’
- remember to give yourself a pat on the back
- eat well
- exercise and look after yourself
- practice yoga, mindfulness and meditate
- indulge in a guilty pleasure at least once a week – whether that be a chocolate bar, getting your hair or nails done or watching some trash on tv!