Confidence is the key to leadership: here’s how to become more confident


You’re not a good boss until you know this: confidence is the key to leadership for the business woman.

The role of a leader is more than just being able to say you run a company or you’re in charge of a team. It is also about being an example to those you lead and making tough decisions. All of this, of course, is often a result of a high level of confidence.

Much of the time, if asked to think of a leader, we will probably name a male leader and more often than not, also a charismatic style of leader. And why not? Generally speaking, men tend to hold more positions of leadership than women, with a recent study showing that “Only 21.8 per cent of national parliamentarians were female as of 1 July 2013…”.

Men have also proven, time and time again, that leading a company or a team is more than just proving you can do it or you’re the best one to do the job. It is also very much about confidence — not only confidence that you can do the job (regardless of experience), but confidence is the key to believing that you can lead the team or company to the best results and on to further success.

Such confidence, though, is often harder for women to master than it is for men. Too often, women assume that men “know it all” before leading when in fact, they often have confidence in their ability to deliver and give it a go rather than having all the experience to back it up. This is something women need to learn to do.

Confidence is the key to successful leadership

Confidence is the key to recognize where you may still have gaps in knowledge in order to work through them, and confidence is also the key to developing a team spirit in your staff. Let me explain how…

In my opinion, there are three types of leaders: Top leaders move forward confidently, but also manage to get others on board. Average leaders passively endure everything. Underperformers are bothered by everything and criticize instead of working on solutions.

Constructive criticism and solution-oriented ideas are desired, but permanent whining is not. It goes without saying that all leaders should strive to be among the top ones.

The challenge for the leader of the future is that confidence is the key to cooperative leadership without hierarchical power. Arrogance is always harmful, and not just to the staff. I therefore recommend that corporate client advisors keep a close eye on their behavior towards colleagues and staff, including from other areas of the institute – and be aware of the circumstances in the job that could lead to unintentionally arrogant appearances.

Confident leaders know the value of colleagues and staff

Confident consultants recognize and appreciate the value of their colleagues and staff. Arrogance and non-recognition of staff value can become apparent in many ways, for example: In day-to-day business, a leader is often close to the board of directors. However, those who keep mentioning that they “have to go to the board meeting” will quickly be perceived as arrogant, even if that may be true.

Above all, I recommend being a team player internally: It’s all too easy to inflate yourself because all the strands of customer communication come together with the leader. But really confident leaders recognize the value of their colleagues.

Keeping the balance between a confident team player and an arrogant lone fighter is not easy. But those leaders who can stay on the tightrope ensure strong cooperation among their own colleagues and an excellent impact on the business.

Don’t wait until you have 100% of the experience; just be confident in your ability to deliver!

Francisco Dao writes in ‘Without Confidence, There is No Leadership’ that “At the end of the day, leadership is about having the confidence to make decisions. If someone is afraid to make and commit to decisions, all of the communication and empowerment in the world won’t make a squat of difference”.

Being a confident leader is more than being appointed the job for your skills and abilities. Confidence is the key to be able to listen to your instincts, something women are generally good at.  Women are known to read and understand body language better than men (which could well be the foundation of so-called “women’s intuition””.

Confidence can be a tricky thing to calculate. Too little and you may not get the top job;  too much may come off as arrogance in the minds of colleagues. Having the right amount, however much it is to us individually, can go a long way. As Dao also wrote, “Not only does confidence allow you to make the tough decisions that people expect from a strong leader but it’s reassuring to your employees”. This is where being confident builds respect with the team you are leading.

How to become more confident?

  • Be kind to yourself and accept your limitations – Understand that no human can get it right all the time and you have a right to fail. Mistakes are part of life and are important for our growth in understanding confidence is the key.
  • Allow yourself to feel fear – Fear is an important emotion for our survival, it makes us stop to think before acting and protects us from situations that bring us risks. Therefore, understanding when fear is inconsistent and insubstantial is the key to action.
  • Neutralize the people who harbor your belief that you’re not good enough – Many people can play a harmful role in our lives. We need to learn to edit the importance we give to others and how they affect us.
  • Start and finish something – Set goals and tasks and set yourself the task of completing tasks throughout the day. The feeling that you have completed something you set out to do will bring you the feeling of accomplishment.
  • Neutralize bad thoughts – Are you able to like who you are? How much of your time do you spend thinking about your strengths and building on them? Take care of your self-esteem, try to accept and value yourself, focusing on highlighting your best.
  • Choose to act – Act in accordance with your values, not your past history. You will have the feeling of living more effectively and meaningfully.
  • Overcome Negative Beliefs – Look back and identify opportunities you missed out of fear of not being able to. Try to understand the origin of these beliefs and go on deconstructing them one by one, remembering the moments when you felt victorious. With this exercise, little by little beliefs become meaningless.
  • Think about the consequences – Assess the situation from the outside and think about the worst that could happen if you took this action. Is giving up really the best option?

So next time you see a male showing confidence in a meeting or at an event, ask yourself, what is he doing or thinking that is different to me?

YOU can be just as confident … so go be it, and see the difference once you understand confidence is the key!

About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

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