How to be a More Confident Leader

In business, confidence is an essential trait to have. It allows you to speak up, to be taken seriously, and to get what you want. A lack of confidence holds you back, cultivating self-sabotaging impulses and limiting beliefs. It’s generally understood that confidence is the key to success.

However, it can be challenging for people, particularly those who’ve struggled with self-confidence in their lives, to acquire that confidence in their career – even leaders. KPMG’s 2015 Women’s Leadership Study found that 9 out of 10 women leaders lacked confidence in asking for sponsorships and mentors. How does one move past such fears? Here are some tips to help you establish confidence in your own personal power.

Recognize Your Value

As a leader, you have knowledge and wisdom to impart. Your expertise and ideas are among the most positive things you bring to the table, but you must believe in yourself. Writing down a list of the skills and experience you’ve acquired throughout your career can be a way to force yourself to see your own value. Another way to remind yourself of how awesome you are is to simply read your own resume. Practice self-trust by shifting your mindset from self-doubt to believing in your own worth. 

Be Respected, Not Liked

One fear that many leaders have is whether their subordinates like them or not. Remind yourself of how you got to be where you are, then reinforce your influence in a respectful manner. 

Harvard Business Review study discusses the case of Mark Angelo, a director of operations at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery. He wasn’t confident in building a new program to improve the hospital’s operational quality because he lacked hospital experience and feared lack of support from physicians and nurses, even after conducting thorough research. 

Through conversations with the hospital’s CEO and the support of his family, Angelo realized he was more worried about being liked by his colleagues. After observing how his CEO handled such anxiety, he realized that, for a leader, being respected is more important than being liked.

Have a Support System

Angelo wasn’t the only one to seek emotional support from loved ones; a person’s upbringing has a significant impact on one’s confidence. KPMG’s Women’s Leadership Study found that 74 per cent of women who were encouraged to lead during childhood aspired to senior leadership. The research bears it out: If you’re a leader who can use a confidence boost, surround yourself with people who believe in your abilities and merit. 

Be Humble

While there are many stories about “great” leaders who are notoriously difficult to work with – or for – a dictatorial style isn’t usually a good choice for a manager, especially a young one. Mutual respect goes a long way, not only in the workplace but in all aspects of life. Stay humble and don’t lose sight of where you came from and remember all the people who helped you climb the ladder to you where you are. Acknowledging when you’re wrong will also earn you the respect of your peers and team.

Build Credibility

Acknowledge your achievements, and don’t hesitate to mention them when introducing yourself in presentations, meetings, or when speaking one-on-one with other professionals. Even though humility is relevant, being a confident leader means you should also own your successes.

Confidence comes with time, but there’s endless room for growth. If you begin to doubt yourself, don’t fret; it will take time before you feel like you belong. Creeping doubts can try to tell you that feeling good about yourself and your merits is arrogance. Don’t let that dissuade you; standing your ground is the first step to helping you push past your insecurity. 

After all, these guidelines will help you build up the confidence that a good leader or manager exudes. Seeking guidance from role models and mentors will deepen your knowledge, self-worth, positivity, and resilience, allowing you to take more risks and reap rewards.  

Joséphine Mwanvua | Staff Writer



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