Confidence Is Important in Leadership: How to Be a Confident Leader
What Is Self-Confidence in Business?
Confidence is the foundation of success. Confidence makes you feel like you can do anything, be anyone, and achieve anything. However, so often, we are our own worst enemies. We put ourselves down and believe that we aren’t good enough for any position we want or need to fill.
In this article, I answer the question, “Why do leaders need to be self-confident in business?” I also outline some strategies for building self-confidence in business (and in your life).
Why is confidence important in leadership?
Leaders must possess skills such as problem-solving, decisiveness, and communication. You need to be a good coach and mentor, hold others accountable, and instruct people on processes to maintain productivity. But, if confidence is lacking, true leadership will exist only in the title.
You may have all the skills to lead, but you’ll likely find it difficult or impossible to lead your followers if you don’t have and display confidence. When you are a confident leader, you will:
Motivate and inspire others
Be calm under stress
Be more ambitious
and Hold others accountable
Confidence makes you more accepting of feedback, more willing to embrace risks, more likely to grow personally and professionally, and more trusted and trusting. You’ll build stronger relationships, and be more satisfied in your life.
Confidence is what separates great leaders from average managers.
7 signs you lack confidence as a leader
It’s not always apparent to leaders that they lack confidence – it can be difficult to recognize your own weaknesses. Here are seven signs you may not be the confident leader your business needs you to be.
You suffer from imposter syndrome
Impostor syndrome is a psychological term that refers to individuals struggling with feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy, despite evidence to the contrary. Impostor syndrome can be explained as a combination of the following:
A feeling that you are not quite good enough at what you do
A sense that you have fooled others into thinking you are more competent than you are
Left ‘untreated’, imposter syndrome can trap you in an endless cycle of fear, doubt, and self-doubt.
You are never sure how much to charge
If you aren’t sure how much to ask for – for example, when pitching for business – this is a classic symptom of a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. You may not believe that you deserve the amount of money you are asking for and certainly fear rejection.
You have a fear of failure
Most people fear failure because they don’t want to be rejected by their peers. We also fear failing because it means we are not good enough and we lose out on opportunities. However, a leader who fears failure is usually insecure about their skills which makes it tough for them to lead effectively.
You avoid conflict
Leaders are responsible for taking actions and making decisions that will benefit the company and its subordinates. However, if you lack confidence in your ability to make the right decisions, you will avoid conflict and be hesitant to act. Do you walk away from potential confrontations and disagreements?
You fail to finish what you started
If you start and then stop working on a project without finishing it, it could be a sign that you lack confidence. Sometimes the fear of failure or difficulty in getting started can lead to procrastination.
Eventually, this anxiety about how a project may turn out can lead to you avoiding starting new projects – though this may also be because you simply have too much on your plate, and you are on the path to entrepreneur burnout.
You tolerate poor performance and inefficiency
Confidence isn’t just about believing that you can get things done; it’s about envisioning the outcome you want for yourself, for others, and for your business.
Many people do not realize how a lack of confidence leads them to tolerate poor performance and inefficiency, primarily because they wish to avoid conflict and are not confident in the decisions they make.
You don’t take controversial stands
Lack of confidence can lead to a lack of thinking and reflection. You’ll be unaware of what your own opinions are and how you feel about certain topics. It could also lead to you being more reserved with your views in general.
This causes you to avoid controversial stands to stay safe in your own world. This is not a healthy habit because it can cause stagnation and prevent your business (and you) from growing.
Tips to build confidence in business
To build confidence in your business, you need to make sure that you are a confident leader.
Building confidence can be difficult, but when done successfully it can transform your business. You’ll make better decisions, make your employees more confident, and charge the right prices to clients.
I’ve analyzed self-confidence in business and narrowed it down to four distinct areas: knowing yourself; creating and maintaining focus; setting boundaries, and voice. Here are my top tips to develop your confidence across these areas.
Know yourself as the foundations of confidence
Confidence is a feeling that people have about themselves. It is most often used to describe how people perceive themselves and the world around them.
There are many things that can be done to build one’s confidence, which includes building self-esteem, implementing positive affirmations, and practicing confidence-boosting behaviors. Here are a few tips:
Reference your past successes
As a business leader, it’s important to stay consistent and not get discouraged by the inevitable bumps in the road.
Start by listing some of your past successes. Then list some of the challenges that came up in those situations. This will help you connect the dots between your experience and what you’re currently doing. This will increase your ability to identify mistakes and opportunities that come up during your current situation – and therefore face today with confidence.
Review your preparation
To be confident and comfortable, you must prepare well. Knowing as much about your client’s industry as possible, their type of company, and their target audience is a huge advantage.
But here is an even bigger reason to feel confident: you know more than your client does about what you and your business do. If you didn’t, they wouldn’t be speaking to you.
Think about all you have already done to prepare. Your education and your experience to date. Even if you are young, your narrow focus on your specialty will give you a huge advantage.
Succeed at the small things
Start every day with a success. Make promises and keep them. For example, make a morning workout part of your daily routine. Don’t cheat, now! Get into the habit of doing what you promise yourself you will, and check it off your list.
If you come to your desk having achieved what you promised to do, you’ll be more confident.
Create and maintain focus to grow your confidence
A major step to creating a confident mindset is to focus on what you want. Focus on the things you are good at. If you’re struggling with positivity, use these tips to start feeling better:
Trim your to-do list
Many times, entrepreneurs get overwhelmed with all the tasks they need to complete. A to-do list can help entrepreneurs stay organized and prioritize tasks. However, there is a drawback – when your to-do list is too big.
A few years ago, I had too many tasks on my plate, which were keeping me from getting anything done. I was always frantically checking my phone for new alerts, trying not to miss any deadlines because I was so busy with the small amounts of time that I had in the day.
It did not take long for me to realize that this way of managing my time was causing stress and anxiety. So I trimmed my to-do list. How? By automating what I can, delegating what others can do, or dropping what doesn’t need to be done…
Learn more in my recent article, ‘Does Your Long To-Do List Make You Feel Like a Failure? It’s Time to Start Delegating’.
Use the power of your ‘no muscle’
As a leader, you wear many hats. Too many. You’re involved in everything your business does. You don’t have to be. In fact, you mustn’t be.
earn how to do it, if our brain isn’t wired for it in the same way, you need to build it. No muscle? No problem! By learning how to say no, you can be confident in your abilities and more likely to succeed in life.
Learn more in my recent article, ‘The Power of Saying No and the Ability to Walk Away as a Business Leader’.
Set boundaries to confirm your confidence
You must establish your own boundaries with yourself and others. Set firm limits for yourself so that you are not taken advantage of by others. Here’s how to do this:
Embrace constructive conflict
Conflicts are natural to most people in interpersonal relationships. They happen on a daily basis in business and can be very uncomfortable. But when you can manage conflicts, you’ll have fewer of them, and they’ll be much easier to handle.
It’s all about overcoming your fears, which is possible with practice and perspective. Here’s how you can start building your confidence today:
Approach conflicts with curiosity
Ask questions about what you disagree on until you find their strongest argument
Take an approach based on giving rather than getting (even if it feels like you’re taking)
Always use your experience, knowledge, and expertise as a foundation for discussion
Finally, put to bed the perception that conflict is always negative. There are many opportunities for conflict to lead to positive outcomes, greater innovation, and a better understanding of others.
Create a ‘place to stand’
There must be a place to make a stand, and you must create this. Things to do here include:
Creating policies that guide accepted behaviors.
Be willing to get fired for your values and beliefs, and justify your actions always.
Acting fast – like a bad smell, conflict gets worse the longer it lingers. Deal with it fast.
Also, pull your tolerance levels back. You know your stuff. You cannot afford to accept BS. The more you do, the more you’ll give in. That’s not a virtuous circle. It’s a downward spiral.
Send out a really expensive offer. Your service is amazing. The client knows this. That’s why they are talking to you. They may come back with a counteroffer. Negotiate a great price. (Then deliver, of course.)
Use voice to exude your confidence
It takes a lot of practice to be able to speak with authority and come off as competent – whether you’re trying to sell yourself as a professional or just trying to make a friend. Here are two tactics to develop your confident voice.
Take a counterintuitive stand
Isn’t it boring when everyone is saying the same thing? Who wants to listen to that? Who’s going to take notice?
A great way to build your authority and confidence is to take a counterintuitive stand. Go against the grain. Use your experience to explain why you think differently. Justify your point of view. People will listen, and when you are proved right, your reputation as a thought leader will rise.
Write a letter to yourself from your future self
Writing a letter to yourself is something that every person should do at least once in their lifetime.
If you are struggling with your confidence, this particular letter will detail how you can improve your confidence levels and take control of your life and business. This letter will include things like:
What’s been going well and what hasn’t been going well
Some advice on where you can turn for help
Some helpful exercises for improving your confidence levels
Write it today, and read it whenever you feel the need.
Why do leaders need to be confident? To build confident businesses.
To build a confident business, as a leader you must stay grounded, understand your experience has value, and trust your intuition. Be prepared to take risks, learn, and embrace conflict. Self-confidence will empower you to inspire and motivate, and it will give you the strength to say ‘no’.
How do you start to build the confidence that will propel your business to its potential? You need to take massive action, though massive action always starts with a small step:
Watch my Confidence webinar to take your first step.
By the way, you can get a 5 day plan to get rid of that overwhelmed feeling and get moving again. Learn more here.