#1 — BE AUTHENTICALLY YOU
Have you ever felt the pressure to be someone you’re not? I know I have in the past. Especially in professional situations early on in my career.
This may look like toning down your personality to appear ‘professional’. Presenting in a way which is stiff, buttoned-up or unnatural. Or trying too hard to project an image of prestige or success.
Humans crave connection and want to fit in — in equal measure. But needing to ‘prove’ yourself or acting in a way which isn’t authentic comes from a place of fear or low self-worth.
Authenticity isn’t a quality easily put into words because it is so unique to the individual. It’s about being who you truly are and not looking to others for validation or answers. Following your own beliefs, values and goals — not anyone else’s.
It also means doing what you want, not what you think you ‘should’ do. In fact, any time you hear limiting language like ‘I should’, ‘I can’t’ or ‘I have to’, it’s a sign of your conditioning. Society, the media and people around you influenced these beliefs and behaviours in your early years of life.
In contrast, true confidence comes from a place of high self-worth. When you value and trust yourself, you’ll naturally present as and feel more confident.
Have you ever met someone who is quietly confident and grounded in themselves? You immediately warm to them, feel at ease and reassured about their ability as a leader.
Although you may not always be able to explain why, notice how you’re instinctively drawn to those who are authentically themselves. The ability to connect with others and build relationships is important as a leader. And this happens effortlessly when you’re being ‘authentically you’!
#2 — USE YOUR INTROVERSION AS A SUPERPOWER
Ever told yourself: ‘I can’t speak up in meetings or reach out to someone — I’m an introvert!’? I’ve noticed clients often associate their introversion with a lack of confidence. It becomes an issue if you hide behind your introversion and don’t put yourself out there.
A common misconception is only extroverts are confident. Well, I’m here to bust this myth!
Introvert and extrovert personality traits refer to how you get your energy — not how confident you are. Extroverts are stereotypically seen as being loud, outgoing and lovers of attention. This is likely because they derive their energy from others.
Introverts find their energy from being in their own company and need time on their own to recover. It’s why they’re often characterised as reserved or shy. But this isn’t always the case.
I know many confident, social individuals — some with big public profiles — who claim to be introverts. I’m an extrovert, very direct and assertive yet still suffer from self-doubt and hits to my confidence at times. We all experience imposter syndrome — it’s part of being human!
If you identify as an introvert, you have two choices. You can use your introversion as an excuse — or your superpower!
As an introvert, you’re a great listener, self-aware and amazing at interacting with people individually. Use these strengths to your advantage by connecting with others one-on-one. Ask questions and be genuinely curious about them and their opinions.
#3 — LEVERAGE YOUR STRENGTHS
For many years in the corporate world, the focus was on fixing flaws and poor performance. Companies hired coaches for underperforming employees and to improve weaknesses. These days, I work with organisations who want to develop and retain their people and individuals investing in their own professional development.
The tendency to worry about your weaknesses and what you lack is part of your conditioning. I work with so many talented individuals who compare themselves to others and feel inadequate. This manifests as self-doubt, imposter syndrome and a lack of confidence.
Even our education system is set up to correct our weaknesses, rather than expanding our strengths. Growing up, economics, English literature and art were my strongest subjects. But my parents were more concerned about my average marks in maths!
The most successful and self-confident people I know understand and own their unique strengths. They build their roles around their zone of genius — the work they’re good at and love to do. Then delegate tasks to those who have strengths in areas they don’t.
To build confidence as a leader, outsource your weaknesses and leverage your strengths!
#4 — STEP INTO ‘THE ARENA’!
About 90% of my clients come to me saying they want to have the confidence to: share their opinions in meetings, have a difficult conversation or change careers. But confidence isn’t a place you come from. It’s an outcome or result.
What stops you doing the things which make you uncomfortable is fear. Fear is a protective mechanism designed to keep you safe. It shows up any time you think about making a change or move outside your comfort zone.
The way to work through fear is to step into it. Brené Brown talks about ‘entering the arena’. Getting messy and taking action — despite the doubts.
A couple of years ago, my three year old nephew stood at the top of a hill, ready to start the decent on his scooter. My sister warned him it was steep and suggested he walk to the bottom.
I challenged him. ‘Give it a go, you can do it!’. To which he replied: ‘yeah!’ and set off down the hill, eyes lit up in excitement.
He made it halfway down before flipping off the path and onto the grass, ending up with a mouthful of dirt and grass.
Sure, there were tears. But to his credit, he got right back on the scooter. Later, I heard his dad explain ‘you’re fine, this is how you learn’.
I love this metaphor and the lesson behind it. So many times in life, you avoid risks because you fear failure or falling off the safe, secure path. But when you step outside your comfort zone, the learning and growth happens.
Yes, you could fall — but as you pick yourself back up and try again, your confidence builds. Confidence comes through courage. By stepping into self-doubt and taking consistent action, you become more confident over time.
Confidence is an important leadership quality to master — yet many individuals struggle with it. These tips have helped my clients become more confident leaders. I hope they support you too!