With the amazing numbers of women showing up in the women’s marches around the world, and the uprising of women’s voices in the “Time’s Up” and #Me Too movements, both men and women are paying attention to the power women have to band together and create change.  Women are speaking up, not just about harassment or pay equity, but about their stereotyped roles in society and the resulting impact of the imbalance of power structures currently existing in institutions and organizations.

As more and more women unite and rise up to assert and claim their voices, postures, and/or positions of power, there is something missing in our psyches that may serve as an unconscious obstacle.

It is something deep, subtle, and unconscious.

It is genuinely believing that we are truly powerful, capable, competent, credible, and worthy.

It is having…unshakeable confidence.

As an executive coach, I have the pleasure to work with powerful women in leadership positions and have pretty deep conversations about their thoughts, aspirations, goals, and the challenges they face.  The biggest challenge I find in the women I work with isn’t about how to handle a situation or their need to build a skill or gain more competence in something.  Instead, a common challenge I see for women is overcoming their own disempowering thinking.  Their own deeper beliefs and thought patterns get in their way more than anything outside them does.  It isn’t really a lack of self-confidence, per se, but the possession of a situation-dependent, fragile confidence that comes and goes and flickers like a bulb with a short in it.  It circumvents their power source and prevents them from stepping into their full power.

Confidence is something we hear a lot about.  “Assert yourself, don’t let others step on you, and speak your truth” is common advice.

Others spend time polishing their looks and image to get positive attention from others, and help them feel more confident.  Or we are told to stand tall in power postures and we will automatically become more confident and appear powerful to others.

While all this advice can be helpful, I find it isn’t lasting and the type of unshakeable confidence women need to truly step into their most powerful presence. Confidence is a habit.  It develops from repeated thought patterns and behaviors, and results from a deeper, more grounded power source.  It isn’t defiant and angry, and doesn’t look for someone to blame.  It can even be humble and quiet, but its electricity and energy is felt.

Here are 5 habits of a truly confident woman:

  1. She thinks empowering thoughts

Disempowering thought habits left to run amok in our minds circumvent our confidence and power.  Centuries of gender messaging and role stereotypes about what women should do, be, and look like, along with self-comparison to others create head stories that play self-doubt movies in our heads.  Programming our minds with powerful mantras like

“I am powerful”

“I am the best version of myself”

“I belong here”

are just a few examples of the thought habits of a confident woman.


  1. She is clear about what she contributes

A confident woman knows what her strengths are.  She takes time not to just polish her outside appearance and image, but to build her competence, knowledge, and interest base.  She nurtures her inner world, makes a habit of self-reflection and improvement, and believes in her ability to create her own circumstances.


  1. She monitors her emotional reactions and chooses her responses

A confident woman pauses before she reacts and notices her impulses, emotions, and triggers.  She is clear about who she wants to be and chooses her responses to be in alignment with that person.  Her words and actions match, and as a result, are not defensive and reactive.


  1. She learns from, values, and connects with others

A confident woman doesn’t need to be the center of attention or the queen bee.  She is truly interested in others, appreciates what others contribute, and learns from everyone.


  1. She competes with and validates herself

A confident woman doesn’t win by competing with others and having someone else lose.  Her validation comes from a standard she holds inside herself, and doesn’t come from comparing herself with others.  Winning isn’t her goal— continuous learning, transformation, contribution, and service is.

Confidence is deeper than a persona, a swagger, or a pose.  It manifests itself as a result of permanent access to a much more grounded power source found deep inside yourself.  When we as women make it a habit to connect to this place, we are not only more confident women.

We become unshakeable, unstoppable, and unforgettable—and can change the world.


If you are interested in more on this topic, don’t miss my new book, “Power Presence for Women” being released in March.

Read my article on Women & Self-doubt in Forbes