New research released today by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) reveals that 62% of young women in the UK want to be leaders in the future, but a staggering 44% worry that a lack of confidence will hold them back.

Sarah Willingham writes for Female First

Sarah Willingham writes for Female First

A further 30% think that not having the right opportunities will hold them back and 26% said not having the right skills would. As business leaders, we need to be leading by example – showing young women that they are valued in the workplace and helping them to gain the skills they need to succeed.

1. Believe in yourself: Trust your instincts, don’t second guess yourself or agonise over the decisions you’ve made. We all makes mistakes on occasion and you shouldn’t feel afraid of what you don’t know - see it as a learning opportunity and appreciate that no one knows everything.

2. Don’t be afraid to speak up: Great leaders spend time listening and learning; they ask questions. Often when someone says something so complicated that you don’t understand, it’s likely that they don’t understand it either!

3. Understand your skills: Imagine your dream job or role and consider what new skills you would need to carry out the role. This will help you to identify areas for improvement and give you a better idea of where to direct your time.

4. Talk to a mentor or leader at your company: Seek advice from people senior to you who can give you feedback and encouragement. As early as possible, surround yourself with brilliant people who are doing something well and know more than you do.

5. Seek out training opportunities: Never stop learning and continuing to educate yourself. Take on new challenges, even if they make you feel uncomfortable, as these are the experiences that will help you to grow and improve. The DofE is offered at many schools, universities, youth organisations and businesses and helps you to develop skills such as confidence and resilience which are critical in the modern workplace.

Being a woman should never deter anyone from pursuing their dreams and the DofE’s research shows there’s more work to be done to encourage young girls to explore their potential. One third of young people think that historically, there have been more male leaders because men are better and more ‘natural’ leaders than women. When asked about which leader they most admired, youngsters named Barack Obama, Bill Gates and Gareth Southgate – Oprah Winfrey followed only in fifth place.

Helping all young people to build the confidence and skills needed to be the leaders of tomorrow is the responsibility of all of us.

To find out more about the DofE and the research results visit:

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