How to be a More Confident Leader

In business, confidence is one of the most important traits 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 a key factor in 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 positive things you bring to the table, but you must believe it. 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 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 that you’re capable.

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. A Harvard Business Review study discusses the case of Mark Angelo, director of operations at New York’s Hospital For Special Surgery, found he wasn’t confident building a new program to improve the hospital’s operational quality because he lacked hospital experience and feared a 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 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% of women who were encouraged to lead during childhood aspired to senior leadership. The research bears it out: If you’re a leader that can use a confidence boost, surround yourself with people who believe in you.

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 all the people who helped you climb the ladder that got you where you are. Acknowledging when you’re wrong will also earn you the respect of your peers and your team.

Build Credibility

Acknowledge your accomplishments and don’t hesitate to mention them when introducing yourself in presentations, meetings, or when speaking one-on-one with other professionals. Despite the previous point about staying humble, being a confident leader means you should also own your successes.

Confidence comes with time, but there’s endless room for growth. These guidelines will help you build up the confidence that a good leader or manager needs and seeking guidance from role models and mentors will also deepen your well of knowledge.


Joséphine Mwanvua | Staff Writer



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