Getting up early to ‘put yourself first’? Bad idea!

So many female leaders tell me they get up early so they can fit in their ‘me time’ every day. These women speak as though waking at 4 a.m. is a self-care choice underpinned by assertiveness and confidence. But let’s think about that. How does regularly depriving yourself of sleep equate to self-care? Is working excessive hours every day a sign of assertiveness? Does a confident leader arrive at work frazzled and stressed by her gruelling morning routine?

To all these questions, let’s yell a resounding ‘no’. Let’s end imposter thinking and ‘nice girl’ behaviour. Let’s enter the zone of truly confident leadership. Here are three ways female leaders can do this (if you’re male, pass these tips on to the women in your business).

Stop faking work–life balance 

Successful leaders are congruent. They don’t pretend – to themselves or others – that they’re super organised. They don’t burn themselves out trying to juggle 12 hours of work, an hour of exercise, three hours of housework and five hours of time with their loved ones every day. Women who are self-assured in their leadership roles know that the idea of ‘faking it ’til you make it’ is outdated. In fact, professionals who believe this works are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome, self-doubt and low confidence.

Dial down your standards

Leadership expert Kit de Vries calls imposter syndrome ‘the flip side of giftedness’. I wrote more about it in a recent blog article because it’s such a thought-provoking statement. If you’re a talented woman, remember that being gifted can put you in a harsh spotlight and trigger perfectionist habits.


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Here’s why: Gifted women are brilliant at many things. But that doesn’t mean you should do everything at a super-perfect level. Dial down your expectations for everyday performance to the level of Professional Output. Save your highest standards for the tasks that really matter.

Master the art of setting limits

Women with authentic confidence don’t say ‘yes’ to everything. They’re clear about their boundaries. They also know how to set boundaries without sounding like pushy cows. You don’t need a genetic predisposition for confidence. You just need to master the basics of assertive communication.  Read my book Difficult People Made Easy to learn how.