Following is an excerpt and the highlights of a paper recently published reporting on a research study we conducted exploring how perceptions impact the way women interact and contribute in their professional activities.  The complete paper is here

Many successful women leverage the power of perception, earning opportunities to achieve greater success because they manage how they present themselves and emphasize their “natural” strengths to build a strong personal brand. A strong personal brand is one of the important factors that sepa­rates high performing, highly successful women from those who have similar talent and experience. So why do women with similar talent have strong personal brands, while others do not?

An important part of the answer is that rather than hesitate, being concerned about how others may perceive them, successful women accelerate, consciously creating and proactively managing per­ceptions that accurately reflect their authentic selves and create their true, strong personal brand. In short, they find that being more of who they are will help them succeed.

Use the Power of Perceptions to Your Advantage

By contrast there is a large segment of women whose sensitivities to perceptions causes them pause and change the way they participate and contribute with others. There is even a portion of women who feel they are “held prisoner” to the perceptions held by others and hesitate or withhold from participating in meetings. If you, however, are a woman who might hesitate to take action because of how you think others perceive you this article will provide you with the encouragement and tools to use the positive power of perceptions to be more of who you and get more credit for your contributions.

As a woman, you have to manage two layers of perceptions to propel your success. One is the overall “brand of women” while the other is how others perceive your individual strengths and weaknesses. Savvy, high-achieving women know how to lever­age the positive perceptions of both layers. They understand how to capitalize on the strengths of being a woman while re­framing the negative misconceptions they often face. In turn, they also pay attention to how others see them as individuals. Combined, by managing these two layers, savvy high-achieving women can build a personal brand that highlights their individual talents – leveraging the power of brand synergy. You can too, when you know how to use perceptions to your benefit.

Here are some of the highlights from the research study.  The following statistics refer to the number of women what “strongly agreed” or “agreed” to the statement.

 More than 50% of women agreed “Sometimes I feel that some women dismiss other women and their ideas but if a man says the same thing, then the idea or thought is ac­cepted or recognized by the women as making a contribution.”

 Nearly 60 percent agreed with the statement “Sometimes I am too self-critical which causes me to second guess myself and hold back with my comments or actions and this limits my ability to make a contribution.”

 More than 70 percent agreed with the statement “Sometimes I feel like women are more com­petitive with other women than they are with men.”

 

55% agreed with the statement “Sometimes I am overly concerned about how someone per­ceives me that I spend too much time focused on ‘why does he/she perceive me that way’ versus ‘what am I doing that is creating that perception.”

Over 60 percent agreed with the statement “As a woman I am a natural caretaker and some­times I am too concerned about others feelings and therefore I may change what I say or how I act with certain people.”

The study’s important finding is that a sizeable segment of women hesitate to act or contribute in groups because of their preoccupation with how they are perceived or how they might be perceived.

In the article Women and Perceptions, Accelerate, Don’t Hesitate you can learn how to become more effective by leveraging the positive power of perceptions. Click on image below to download the article. Perceptions are reality, but they don’t have to be obstacles to success. Avoid hesitating and acting hamstrung by a feeling of being a prisoner of perceptions, accelerate by using your authentic qualities to make a difference every chance you get!