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Become More Self-Confident at Work To Improve Your Leadership: 5 Surprising Tips


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How would you like to be a more effective, confident leader? Self-confidence is the cornerstone to being a successful leader and manager at work, which means that it’s vital to do everything you can to become more self-confident at work.

Today, I’ll be covering 5 unexpected (yet powerful) ways to boost your self-confidence so you can be a more confident, effective leader.

What Self-Confidence Really Is

Self-confidence isn’t simply about how you appear or how you act.  You’ll appear and act more confident as you become more self-confident (but you can also fake it and not feel confident at all).  Self-confidence is about how you feel.  Being confident means trusting yourself – your abilities and your judgment. 

When you’re truly self-confident, then you’re:

  • not thrown off by the unexpected or seemingly daunting tasks;
  • open to risk and failure (yet aren’t reckless either);
  • willing to face your fears and courageously move forward;
  • honest with yourself and others about your fears and weaknesses;
  • willing to be vulnerable; and
  • able to act courageously in the face of fear.

Self-confidence doesn’t mean that you don’t fear anything.  After all, you’re not a robot.

At it’s core, self-confidence is about believing that you can figure things out as you go by learning from your mistakes and course correcting when necessary.   Although you believe in yourself, you know that you’re not perfect and trust yourself to learn as you go.

So, you courageously move forward despite your fear of the unknown and the potential for failure.

[Recommended Reading: How To Be Confident Again After Failure (5 Simple Strategies)].


How to Be Confident Again Featured Image

What Self-Confidence Isn’t

Many people confuse confidence with arrogance.  Arrogance cultivates a closed mind and an unwillingness to learn and grow from mistakes and from other people.  Moreover, arrogant people are often unwilling to acknowledge their mistakes in the first place.  And they have trouble apologizing.

Self-confidence necessitates that you’re willing to change course and change opinions.  It requires you to listen to others and take their viewpoint into account without feeling attacked.  And it also means that you’re honest about your weaknesses and failures so that you can learn, grow, and be better – which includes apologizing when necessary.

True self-confidence requires integrity, which is missing from those who are arrogant.  It requires that you’ve adopted growth-oriented mentality. That’s what helps you to:

  • admit your weaknesses so that you can strengthen and plan around them; and
  • take risks and be willing to fail.

Why Self-Confidence Matters In Leaders

Self-confidence is the cornerstone to good leadership.  After all, who would want to follow you if you don’t trust yourself, your abilities, and your judgment?

Leadership isn’t about having a title next to your name, it’s about inspiring others to follow you and having the respect of those you’re leading.  To be a highly effective leader, you must:

  • Have the respect and trust of those you’re leading;
  • Have a clear, simple vision that others can understand and get behind;
  • Take calculated risks (and not allow fear of failure to stop you);
  • Recognize the unique value of differing opinions and the skills of others (without fearing them or feeling attacked);
  • Be nimble and willing to change course in the face of new, better information;
  • Make difficult (sometimes controversial) choices;
  • Accept that respect is better than being liked;
  • Communicate clearly and effectively;
  • Learn from your mistakes (and then let go); and
  • Challenge common assumptions and face conflict.

All of the above qualities demand that you be self-confident.

5 Ways to Help You Become More Self-Confident at Work (That’ll Surprise You)

#1: Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Leadership is uncomfortable.  You’ll be challenged, will occasionally fail in epic ways (and publicly), and won’t always be liked.  And you’ll be forced to make difficult decisions where obvious answers aren’t available.

If you want to stay confident and not get bogged down in this negativity, you must process your emotions, face your fears, and challenge your negative thoughts.  None of this is comfortable.  But here’s where it gets interesting: facing your fears, challenging your negative thinking, and dealing with your emotions creates more self-confidence because you’re being courageous.

Courage is nothing more than…

  • doing something even though you fear failure;
  • challenging thoughts that have previously held you back;
  • acknowledging uncomfortable emotions; and
  • being vulnerable.

Get comfortable with the fact that you’ll be forever uncomfortable.  It will make you a much more effective leader.

[Recommended Reading: Learn how to challenge your fears and act with courage so that you can be a more effective, confident leader in my article about 5 Effective Tools to Stop Living in Fear and Worry].


Featured Image for How to Stop Living In Fear Article


#2: Give Yourself Permission

If you want to become more self-confident at work and as a leader, then you need to give yourself permission to fail, to fear, and to let go.  Otherwise, you’ll have a difficult time as a leader because your self-confidence will get battered and bruised along the way, making you less effective as you go.

Being willing to fail requires you to face your fears.  And both require that you let go of worrying too much over them.  Do you need to plan for contingencies?  Of course.  But there’s such a thing as over-planning.

Learn when to let go and move forward.  And then be sure that you truly let go (otherwise, the fear will eat you alive).

And let go of trying to control the things that you can’t.  Things such as:

  • other people’s approval of you and your decisions;
  • being liked;
  • expectations (in the sense that you need to be nimble).

[Recommended ReadingThe Importance of Letting Go of Control So You Can Stop Trying So Hard and Instead Feel at Peace].


Picture of Woman Who is at Peace after Letting Go of Control

#3: Change Your Language

Be mindful of how you talk to and about yourself.  Self-confidence is ultimately about your mentality.  It’s about how you feel and what you believe about yourself and your abilities.  And much of that is determined by how you speak to and about yourself.

This means that you must make a concerted effort to talk to yourself positively.  Unfortunately, your mind is pre-wired to think negatively.  And that results in lots of negative self-talk.  You know, that voice within that constantly questions, berates, and criticizes.  I call that voice Negative Nellie.

The good news is that you can counter Negative Nellie through regular positive affirmations. For this to work: (1) be realistic (your brain will know if you’re lying), and (2) speak in the third person.  So, instead of telling yourself “you can do this”, say…

“You’ve done something similar before and can do it again.”

Self-talk isn’t the only way you self-sabotage. . . how you describe yourself matters too (and can hurt you).  Do you puff yourself up or describe yourself as less than you are (thinking that you’re being humble)?  In both situations, there’s a problem: you’re being dishonest (and deep down, you know it).

Be honest yet positive in how you describe yourself. Own who you are, including all your messy weaknesses and all your glorious strengths.

#4: Practice Presence

Being present in the moment is a developed skill that helps with awareness (and also stress management).  Did you know that it also helps with confidence too?  When you’re more aware of your feelings, your thoughts, and your fears, you can deal with them better.  And that will increase your self-confidence levels.

What’s even better is that the simple act of labeling your emotions decreases their power over you and diminishes related fears.  That’s seriously empowering!

Finally, being mindful isn’t just about self-awareness.  There are numerous mindfulness exercises to help you become more aware of others’ emotions.  By paying attention to the people around you and identifying what they’re feeling, you’ll be increasing your social IQ.  That will make you a more intuitive leader and increase your self-confidence!

[Recommended Reading: How to Decrease Stress And Anxiety Through Mindfulness To Be A Better Leader].


How to Decrease Stress and Anxiety Through Mindfulness to Be a Better Leader Title Image

#5: Get Clear

Uncertainty breeds self-doubt (a serious confidence killer).  But clarity begets self-confidence.  When you’re clear around who you are, what you want, and why you want it, then you’ll feel good within your own skin.  You’ll have an easier time making decisions and simplifying your life.

What do you need to have clarity around?  Three main things:

  • Your core needs – because needy people aren’t exactly confident.
  • Your core values and how they motivate you.  Values are what bring purpose, meaning and fulfillment into your life (and are therefore your biggest motivator).
  • Your inherent strengths (the things that help you get things done, make things happen, bring people together, and form strong relationships).  Using your strengths in ways that you enjoy will keep you motivated and energized – even when things are difficult.

This is primarily about being clear around what gives you meaning and purpose.  Confident leaders understand who they are and what they want – and aren’t afraid to go after those things (it’s part of why people are attracted to follow them).  Plus, it will motivate you to take action and speak up, further building your self-confidence and leadership skills.

The most important piece of this relates to your values.  Since your values are what bring you the most meaning in life, you’ll want to understand what those are.

And I’ve got a resource designed to help you do just that.  Download the Inner Compass Values Assessment for a step-by-step guide to identifying your core personal values and how to start aligning how you live around them.  This will bring you more (1) clarity, (2) fulfillment, and (3) self-confidence.

Download the Values Assessment here:



Become More Self-Confident, Be a Better Leader

Want to be a better, more effective leader?  Work to continually build your self-confidence levels.  Confidence is a mindset that must be cultivated, strengthened, and maintained through consistent practice.  Use the 5 tips above to become more self-confident, be a better leader, and make a bigger impact.

Until next time…

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Hey there, I’m Heather.

Recovering lawyer. Leadership Coach. Business Strategist. Cancer Survivor.

Lover of queso and dark chocolate (plus all things Texas Longhorns) who’s on a mission to help purpose-driven professionals confidently create your next level of success + impact (while ditching stress, overthinking and people-pleasing for good).

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