There are several distinct power gaps, originally written about by coach Kathy Caprino, that we need to bridge. They prevent us from thriving in our work and limit our confidence, energy, self-belief and sense of internal control. They keep us from feeling like we are where we want to be in terms of impact, responsibility, leadership or compensation. The World Economic Forum reports that, at the rate we are going, gender pay parity will take a further 267.6 years to reach! Of course, some industries (like healthcare) and some countries (like the Netherlands) are already very close to parity. But globally, the gap is still wide! This is something we can positively influence. This is important work we need to be doing not only for ourselves but to set an example and make it easier for those that follow in our footsteps. Today, we’ll focus on four very prevalent power gaps and take Key Steps to claim what we most need to succeed and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

  1. Recognise your talents and accomplishments. In my coaching practice, I typically work with high-performers who are feeling stuck or who are on the brink of making a big leap / change in their career and need some support. They are talented and have accomplished so much. I am no longer surprised that most are faced with some kind of imposter syndrome and struggle to articulate their USP. Can you answer the question, “What are my special talents and abilities, and how do I stand apart from others in my field?” It took me the first 15 years on my career to close this power gap and, at times, I still have to ward off feelings of imposter syndrome.
  2. Communicate from strength not fear. Recognising your strengths is one thing. The next is being able to communicate it. I really used to worry that communicating confidently would sound like “bragging.” I came to realise that shying away from speaking compellingly about what I’ve done and achieved, meant missing critical chances to claim opportunities that would grow my influence and impact. And I guarantee you that many of your competitors are not shying away from speaking up powerfully about what they’ve accomplished. Lux & Mode have recently supported me to communicate Key Steps’ brand message and story. I’m excited to share it with you: and watch this space… our new website will launch soon!
  3. Ask for what you deserve. If you feel you deserve a promotion, a salary increase or to be part of leading an exciting new project… ASK. What do you have to lose? The fear is often one of being rejected. But we miss the reality that by not asking, we are actually rejecting ourselves. If you don’t ask, you’ll lose ground, and your competitors or colleagues are more likely to get ahead. Typically, women struggle more than men (although I see men in coaching struggling too). Research shows that 57% of men negotiate their vry first salary out of school, whereas only 7% of women do so, which creates an inequity from the very first step in our careers. During our “Key Steps to Negotiate Your Way to Success,” I share one study showed that when MBA graduates were offered a job, the men – on average – negotiated 11% more on their starting salary. Assuming they received moderate annual increases and invested the extra money, the men came out at the end of their careers (age 65), with 1.6 million dollars more, based on the cumulative effects of one negotiation. We cannot afford not to ask. Do points 1 and 2 over and over until you really get that you are deserving and then asking will become easier.
  4. Connect yourself to influential support. Although I am much better at this, I’d say this is still a development area for me. I used to expect my work to speak for itself, which meant I didn’t do point 2 very well and then I’d tell myself that “I hate network networking and self-promoting. It’s so awkward.” I’d give myself permission to hide behind my laptop or stay with my clique. Until I built the skill of networking, connecting powerfully with others and communicating impactfully, I really isolated myself from influential support. If you’ve struggled with this too, I want you to remind yourself that without building a supportive community that can help you grow, without expanding your network of colleagues and clients, you’ll severely limit your access to exciting opportunities and work. And I can assure you that there is nothing superficial or awkward or braggy about it.

It is up to you to step into your power and potential, increase your impact, confidence, network and success. But this doesn’t mean it is easy and it is okay – and really normal – to need support with aspects of the above. This might be in the form of working with a mentor, coach and/or joining and workshop. Know that the investment of time and energy that you’ll make is worth it and we see so many people every year that really take Key Steps to…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’


NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 20 years’ experience in leadership and organisational development and transformation. She is a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner. She is also one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – it’s the Oscar of the speaking business.

Sharon’s PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that has been published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of Henley Business School and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. Sharon has become known for her practical approach, useful tools and genuinely caring manner. She is really looking forward to working with you and taking Key Steps to ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’