My March 12 blog post on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s inspirational keynote last month, focused on the Economics of Inclusion and the key role women play in increasing GDP performance in economies where women are participating drivers and leaders.
Another key message from Clinton was the ‘internal ceilings,’ the limitations and boundaries that women create for ourselves.
Everyone is familiar with the concept of the ‘glass ceiling’ referring to the externals barriers that women encounter in management, executive and board room circles.
However, in addition to suffering these career stubbing ‘external’ spoilers, it seems women are doing a fine job of holding ourselves back through our own ‘internal ceilings’ and boundaries.
Too often, a woman’s first reaction, when offered a better job or a promotion is to question whether she is capable or qualified enough to fulfill the requirements.
A friend once sabotaged her own success in a promising position, by speaking candidly about her own ‘self -perceived’ weakness in an area of the job that would be a rather minor aspect of her executive position. She did this because she was being honest, reflective and genuinely self-evaluating.
When women perceive a professional weakness or shortcoming, we feel compelled to be honest, sharing our concerns and self-created doubts with our colleagues or potential employer. According to Clinton’s experience , men on the other hand, do not seem thus compelled.
Even HRC has bumped up against her ‘self-created internal ceilings’ – doubting her suitability to become Senator of New York, or more recently Secretary of State, not to mention the possibility of a presidential candidacy on the horizon.
She has also encountered the same syndrome when hiring and employing her own team of professionals.
It seems that whenever Clinton has offered a promotion to a woman on her staff, without exception, the first reaction of the female candidate is to question her capabilities, asking ‘Do you think I’m ready for this? Do you think I’m capable of filling the requirements and executing the position?’
On the flip side of the gender coin, she has found, any time she has offered a similar promotion to a male member of her staff, without exception, the male candidate has expressed, not only his certainty of being qualified and deserving of the promotion, but moreover, in many cases, he expresses a self founded perception that he may be overqualified for the promotion.
Is it possible that men are ‘self delusional,’ while women are ‘self critical’?
If an ex-First Lady, former Senator and Secretary of State, and possible future president is butting up against her own internal glass ceiling, it seems time for women of all walks to break some glass and discard their old habits of self imposed limitations and doubt.