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Women and Leadership: Confidence as a leader

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)

But 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 till 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 very much 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 as I initially transitioned into a leadership role and then was exposed to a wide range of challenges and experiences over the years. I am comfortable with who I am as a leader which is the basis 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.

What are some practical tips for women working on their confidence as leaders?

  • 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.
  • Develop a positive attitude and positive self-talk.
  • 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)