Tiara Syndrome is a term originally developed by Carol Grohlinger and Deborah Kolb and then used by Sheryl Sandberg in her book ‘Lean in’. Sandberg feels that women often think they can be crowned with the tiara of success by keeping their heads down, working hard, over-preparing and passing all of their exams.
What is “Tiara Syndrome”?
Basically it is about being too modest and believing that working hard and diligence will get you promoted and paid well. As Carol Frohlinger says, “Women expect that if they keep doing their job well someone will notice them and place a tiara on their head.” It is used to describe the professional modesty that many women have, which inhibits them ‘shouting’ about their abilities as much as their male colleagues. Hard work, diligence and modesty are all great virtues, however, those virtues can also prompt people to be too self-effacing and conflict-averse. `Psychologist Cordelia Fine says such behaviour stems from socialisation, not innate differences between the sexes. Some men also suffer, just as many women may not, but similar to “Imposter Syndrome” it does appear to be more of a female behaviour.
How is it manifested?
Tiara Syndrome is demonstrated by women not being as comfortable as their male counterparts with:
- Agreeing their pay and conditions — women expect to be paid fairly for their work, but the gender pay gap seems to continue to rumble on with many women still not being paid fairly for their hard work and efforts
- Applying for promotions — a man is more likely to apply for a job even if he has only half of the ideal qualifications, a woman won’t apply for a new role unless she feels she fits the specification
- Networking — often women’s responsibilities clash with networking events or they just don’t get invited to ‘Old Boy’s Club’ type events
- Developing their own personal brand — modesty or lack of interest can just sabotage this happening
- Having self-confidence as a leader — finding the right approach as a female leader is so tough. Does a woman get described as a ‘bulldozer’ or assertive?
- Looking for informal mentors and sponsors to help them — men don’t fear rejection when asking for help in the way a woman might; or could a woman’s request be misinterpreted by a senior leader as an invitation to get into bed with them?
Women tend to knuckle down and ‘do’, thinking that working hard, being conscientious and performing well, will get noticed and provide them with the recognition, promotions and pay increases they deserve.
How does a woman claim her tiara?
How do those who have been schooled not to boast learn to champion their cause and get over Tiara Syndrome?
Mentoring and sponsorship can provide a focussed and fairly quick support solution to women who feel they may be impacted by Tiara Syndrome. Helping a woman with a reality check around her current situation, a sounding board to discuss her ambition and vision for the future and a role model (male or female) to copy and imitate, can be enormously enlightening and transformational and help a woman grab the tiara she deserves!
Contact Jacki@coachmentoring.co.uk to join a webinar on International Women’s Day 8th March 2018 at 2pm UK time to discuss both Tiara Syndrome and relevant mentoring and sponsorship solutions further.