How to increase your confidence

Having (and exhibiting) the right level of confidence is an essential quality of leadership. Do you have enough of it?

by Miranda Kennett
Last Updated: 14 Apr 2016

Without confidence, you're unlikely to reach a senior position. Even when promoted, many people still suffer debilitating agonies of self-doubt.

SYMPTOMS

CONSEQUENCE

Not speaking up in meetings

Your opinions remain unvoiced;

Your colleagues don't know where you stand;

You fail to make a contribution;

Your lack of confidence breeds a lack of trust in others.

Talking too much in meetings

You appear arrogant;

You don't listen to what others have to say;

You bore people, so they ignore the good points you're making.

Closed body language, lack of eye contact

You demonstrate your fear;

You appear unapproachable, so others hesitate to include you in activities;

Your evident low self-esteem confirms the negative opinions people have of you.

Constant apologies

You give the impression that you are to blame;

You appear to others to be apologetic for your very existence.

REMEDIES

The twin levers for gaining confidence are courage and a sense of purpose. You may not think of yourself as particularly brave, but you can probably summon up the odd instance when you've acted courageously - you know it's there when needed.

Next, you need to get clear on your purpose: why are you at this meeting/in this job, and what is it you want to achieve? If you're focusing on the positive results you want, rather than dwelling on your fears and negative anticipations, the shift in attention will help you behave with greater ease.

Even if you're still lacking in confidence on the inside, you can still appear outwardly confident if you pay attention not just to the content of what you say, but the way you say it. Pick up clues from other people who seem to exude self-possession.

They may speak more clearly, more slowly and contribute earlier than you would naturally. When they use phrases such as 'It seems to me... ', they imply that their opinion is worth hearing, but also allow others to agree or venture a different point of view.

They look at their audience - not nervously scanning from side to side, but selecting one or two people each time they speak.

It's also important to look the part. Wearing a T-shirt to a meeting (unless you work for Facebook) marks you out as more junior. If you appear to value yourself, others will be encouraged to value you.

Miranda Kennett is an independent coach. If there's a leadership issue you'd like her to address, contact her at miranda@firstclasscoach.co.uk. Follow her on Twitter @mirandajkennett.

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