“I stand TALL in my career”

Why, as women, it’s so important and 3-ways to help you achieve this.

For those who know me or have seen me in photos, they might be forgiven for questioning how I can use the word tall. That it’s rather a bold or misleading statement for me to make. Measuring in at 1.64m and of average female height in the UK, you might also find it hard to believe that I stand tall.  Ask my brother-in-law and nephew how tall they think I stand, and you will no doubt get a wry smile. As the least tall in my family I am lovingly referred to as ‘Titch or Auntie Titch’.

But I’m not here to talk about height. Nor am I here to promote wearing high heels at work. Sadly, not for me anyway. My high heel days are well and truly over. A damaged foot on a sports holiday two years ago put pay to that. But hey, that’s a story for another time!

No, when I say that “I stand TALL in my career”, I’m declaring something far more pertinent. I am stating that I am confident in who I am, in my skills and experience and all that I bring to my work, my clients and to those around me.

Bold but true!

What does it mean to stand TALL in your career?

I was once labelled as a troublemaker at work, by our then new CIO. Why you might ask? For the simple reason of speaking up with passion and defending months of hard work and effort by a whole team, that in one meeting was simply dismissed and undervalued. My choice to speak out was the demise of my time as a Senior Leader in that team. My cards had been marked. Had I been a man, I’m sure I would have been viewed as assertive and strong. As a woman I was viewed as disruptive and troublesome. What I did was to stand TALL.

I’ve since reflected on my behaviour and considered how I might have done things differently. Maybe I would have chosen to pick my battles more wisely. Perhaps outside of the meeting instead. But actually, I still stand by what I did and said. I realise that the behaviour displayed by others that day was poor and didn’t sit well with my own values and beliefs. Ultimately, I didn’t want to work for someone like that anyway. That CIO did me a favour.

“I always look for the values of the company I’m considering working for. Do they mirror my own? Will I be able to be my authentic self and feel safe in their care?” Angelina Andrews – Director, Project Manager.  

Standing TALL in your career is about having presence, confidence, stature, belief in yourself and not being afraid to call things out when they’re not right. Living by the values and beliefs you hold close. Being able to dig in deep for that inner grit and resilience when you need it. As a woman well into her career, I can assure you, there are going to be times when you need it!

“Standing firmly in my values. Resilient in that truth has really supported me in my career and got me through some really tough times.” Katherine Byam – Consultant, Coach, CEO.

As women, we have some major challenges along our career path. The glass ceiling, gender pay gap, periods, pregnancy, maternity leave, re-establishing your career post maternity, childcare, health issues, and menopause to name but a few. Finding and holding onto that inner belief and strength will serve you well along this journey.

“As a younger woman working in a corporate environment, mainly male dominated, I realised how important being confident in myself was. You can easily be over-looked, so it’s important to show your skillset.” Holly Perry – Business Development & Sales Director.

I find myself fast approaching 50 … don’t ask me where the years have gone. All I know is, they go quick. I look back on my career. A career that’s certainly had it’s up and downs. Starting out as a PA in 1989 and working my way to IT Leadership roles and in more recent years to running my own business.  I wish someone had sat me down as I started out and shared with me what a difference having self-belief and inner confidence would have made. I know I would have made better, wiser and different choices in my career. Many of my older female clients express the same.

“Not being too hard on yourself, not judging others for not behaving as you think they should (trying not to be judgemental – who knows what they’re currently experiencing) and knowing who you feel comfortable sharing your vulnerabilities with. To me, is what confidence and standing tall as a woman is about”. Kate White – Mature Student, Cycling Instructor.

As a Life Coach, I support women who have the desire to stand TALL in their careers but are lacking in confidence, recognition of their own abilities, experiencing imposter syndrome and unsure what direction to take. These are 3 of the ways I work with them to overcome these challenges.

3 ways to start standing TALL in your career

  1. Recognise and celebrate all your achievements

Whether you are at the start of your career, mid-way or 30 years down the line, reflecting on your achievements in your life is a positive and valuable way to spend time. Making a note from early childhood, including all those little things you’ve done and the bigger ones too. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ve actually accomplished. Recognising these and remembering them in moments where you are being challenged on your capability or lacking confidence will stand you in good stead and instantly make you stand taller! 

  • Accept things won’t always go right  

Failure is an inevitable part of life and you won’t get it right all the time, no one does. When things don’t go as planned, learn to be ok with it. Some of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt and have grown from have been the things I’ve got wrong.  

Even the most successful people have had failures. For inspiration on this, check out “How to Fail” a podcast series by Elizabeth Day. Interviews with well-known people talking about some of their failures and what it taught them.  

  • Uncover your passions and values

Uncovering what motivates you, what your values are and what you are passionate about is some of the most valuable self-discovery work you can do. By understanding these you can identify your purpose and find ways to have a career that aligns to these. How much easier would it be to get out of bed in the morning if you had a job that inspired and fulfilled you daily?

In his book “Find Your Why” Simon Sineks talks about fulfilment is a right not a privilege and how everyone is entitled to feel fulfilled by the work they do. Simon introduces this on his TED talk Start With Why on YouTube.

“I am passionate about supporting women to lead with confidence, stand tall (in bare feet) and to

own their space.”

Jo Riches

Quotes – References – Links in this article

Thank you to Katherine Byam, Holly Perry, Kate White and Angelina Andrews for their insight and quotes for this article.

OnAverage – https://www.onaverage.co.uk/body-averages/average-female-height

How to Fail – podcast series by Elizabeth Day. Available on Apple Podcasts How to Fail

Find Your Why by Simon Sinek

Simon Sinek Start With Why on YouTube