Get the job your abilities merit

Turn self doubt into self awareness and get the promotion your abilities merit 

Highly successful people in the public sector come across as confident and not suffering self doubt. Whilst it is true that there are those who are over confident, have an exaggerated belief in their own abilities and have very little insight into their own behave there are just as many who are good at hiding their lack of confidence and self doubt. The first groups ambitions out strip their ability the second often fail to get the promotions their ability merits. 

We tend to over promote those who are very confident especially where this is accompanied by the charm to make such confidence not come across as arrogance. So confidence can trump competence which explains  why there are some very competent managers working for some very charming senior managers. 

Ideally managers would be competent and have insight into their own behaviour and how it affects others. 

All managers at whatever level need self awareness, they need to know the affect their behaviour has on those they manage and those they work alongside, they need honest, helpful unbiased feedback but they rarely get it! 

From my experience of recruitment and management development there are gender differences in career management. I have observed that in their 20's and early thirties women are as ambitious and confident as men of the same age but as they grow older men become over confident in their abilities applying for jobs that they want and convincing themselves they could do, where as women aren't so sure that they want it or that they could do it , having considered all that's expected from the post. Men apply on the off chance and believe that if they are appointed then significant others must think they can do the job. Women are reluctant to apply recognising the demands of the job so often only apply if someone who's judgment they value tells them they would be good at it. 

Put another way men and women approach applying for a promotion in different ways. Men look at the person specification for the post and tick off the skills, knowledge and experience they have ignoring the rest. Women look at the person specification and identify their gaps in experience, skills and knowledge. Which explanation why I  often  received job applications from men who didn't have the " essential" qualifications required, they thought their experience, knowledge and skills would compensate. Yet in over 20 years of recruiting to management posts I can only think of one occasion where I revived an application from a women who expected to be interviewed despite not having the required essential qualifications.  

Over confidence or self doubt, neither is conducive to good management. Good feedback and coaching can remedy both weaknesses. More important it can improve the quality of management and leadership in an organisation and address the underrepresentation of women in senior posts.

Blair McPherson former director,author and blogger

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