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Confidence & Leadership

In my coaching practice I come across many leaders who struggle with a lack of confidence… and many are very experienced leaders who lack confidence in particular situations or with particular people.

So, what is confidence?

Tony Robbins’ definition of ‘confidence’ resonates with me:

‘…confidence is not something you have, it’s something you create. Being confident is nothing more than a belief in yourself. It’s the feeling of certainty that you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to. Confidence comes from within.’

(Tony Robbins)

How do you develop confidence as a leader, especially if you have just made the transition to leadership?

Over the years I’ve heard many people talk about “fake it ’til you make it”. I’ve never been a fan of this approach, but it has worked for many people I know. My confidence journey has been based around the development of my belief in myself as a person, and then my belief in myself as a leader. This has happened over time, through the initial transition into leadership roles and then exposure to a wide range of challenges and experiences over the years. I am comfortable with who I am as a leader, which is a big part of my self-confidence.

I still remember a time, early in my leadership journey, when I was intentionally intimidated at an important meeting, where I was the only female presenting a significant business case.

It was a challenging experience, but I was calm and confident in the way I responded during the meeting. I had planned and prepared well and believed in what I was presenting… and ultimately, I was successful in achieving the desired outcome. I learned a great deal from that experience about the importance of self-confidence, and still reflect on it today.

What are some practical tips to work on, in order to build confidence as a leader?

  • Know who you are and what’s important to you. Be clear about your beliefs, your values, your strengths and areas for development.
  • Be comfortable with who you are. Believe in yourself. Be authentic.
  • Understand your ‘why’: what drives you to do what you do.
  • Stretch yourself, by starting small and slowly exposing yourself to new and different experiences. Be curious. Challenge yourself.
  • Learn from your experiences through self-reflection and seeking feedback from others.
  • Plan well and be prepared when taking on new experiences… stay calm and expect the unexpected!
  • Be flexible, open and adaptable in your approach to situations. 
  • Be a lifelong learner.
  • Do more of what makes you happy.
  • Develop a positive attitude and positive self-talk.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Seek out a mentor or coach to encourage and guide you.

‘Believing that you’re enough gives you the courage to be authentic.’

(Brene Brown)