01 February 2023
It is often said that confidence is the key to success. It’s hard to imagine an influential leader, celebrity, or people-manager who doesn’t exude a hint of cool confidence. But where does it come from?
By definition, having self-confidence is the belief or feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgement. This gives a person the capacity to accept others’ opinions, criticism, and praise. Self-confidence sets people apart and helps them stand out in a crowd, compelling others to take notice, and leading to more opportunities for success.
On the other hand, a person who lacks confidence might have a harder time getting noticed, as they struggle with risk-taking and often let their fear of failure and criticism outweigh any potential gain. In the workplace, this can manifest as a chokehold to success.
Below, we’ll explore the importance of leading with confidence in the workplace, the things that tend to hold people back, and how to overcome obstacles to genuine self-confidence at work.
While no one likes a blindly arrogant coworker or manager, a little healthy confidence can go a long way in a workplace when it’s presented in earnest and with purpose. The many benefits this can present from a business management perspective include:
Having confidence at work allows people to take well-calculated risks because they have an established belief in themselves. A small example might be finally mustering up the courage - and confidence - to ask for that promotion that’s been on your mind.
Without confidence, it’s hard to ever feel deserving of a promotion. But the confident individual knows they have a good grasp on their job, and are ready for more responsibility. To them, reaching out to a boss for a promotion isn’t the same nerve wracking hurdle it would be to someone who is unconfident.
Building confidence at work helps people turn thoughts and ideas into words and actions. The confident person understands that the only way to know if their idea is the next big thing is if they share it with the world.
They don’t fear rejection because they know it’s part of the process. Remember, even tech giant Apple once came back from the brink of near extinction in 1997. Now, no one can remember a time before iPhones. Vision must be accompanied by confidence if it’s destined for success.
Self-confidence isn’t just important for career progression and innovation, it also benefits the wellbeing of individuals in the workplace. For example, nearly 60% of all misconduct that is observed in the workplace goes unreported, often for fear of retaliation.
Workplace misconduct is not the norm, and should never be treated as such. Having self-confidence is important when it comes to speaking up in the workplace, maintaining clear and open lines of communication with decision-makers, and maintaining a clear demarcation between right and wrong.
Having self confidence correlates to higher self-esteem, and when you feel better about yourself, you tend to feel more satisfied in your work. This ultimately reduces stress, and stressing less allows workers to produce better work. An Oxford University study found that happier people were 13% more productive at work.
The benefits of confidence in the workplace are many. But what does self-confidence look like in a leader or colleague? What are some qualities that simply exude confidence in others?
Confident people are aware of their own strengths and know when to double down on them. But they also recognise their own weaknesses and capacity to improve, which allows them to utilise available tools to better themselves, be it performance management, coaching, or other leadership development programming.
People who are sure of themselves are also sure of their own ideas. It’s hard to make believers out of others if a presenter doesn’t believe in their own product. So, when it comes to presenting new ideas, confident people never shy away.
Challenges are not stopgaps for the confident; they are opportunities for growth and learning. Focusing on their strengths and ability to find solutions, confident individuals never back down from a challenge.
If confidence is so key to workplace success, why do so many people shy away from challenges and decision-making? The unfortunate reality is that there are likely more confidence killers in the workplace than there are confidence builders. Here’s how to spot some habits that tend to deflate confidence at work and how to counterbalance them:
Helene Lerner, author of The Confidence Myth, says that high-performing people often hold themselves to unrealistic and ridiculous standards. It’s important to give 100%. But even for the most confident and capable of people, it’s important to remember perfection isn’t human, and most of the time, it isn’t necessary.
Sometimes, the most critical voice people hear are the voices in their own heads. Other times, it’s the people in the cubicle next to them. Rude and unpleasant colleagues are known to lower job satisfaction and productivity. A better culture starts from the top down and includes supportive coworking environments that provide constructive feedback, rather than tearing people down.
Managers who are too nitpicky over minutiae make it difficult to stay focused and confident at work. But from a psychological perspective, it can help to keep in mind that micromanaging behaviours often come from a place of fear itself and says more about a manager than it does about the work you are producing.
Whether it’s at work or in one’s personal life, overthinking and rumination never help anyone. It’s true that our minds react more dramatically, rapidly, and persistently to negative experiences. But science tells us there is a magic ratio of five positive events that can be used to outweigh a single negative one. To apply this in the workplace, when a negative thought pops up and leads you down a spiral, think of five positive thoughts or experiences you’ve had to counteract it.
Confident people who are well-prepared will always find themselves calm and collected because they’ve reviewed their work on their own and with peers, are well-read, and ready to go. They’re confident because they have the knowledge and strengths to present their ideas clearly and concisely. They know how to ask and answer the right questions. They’re active in their own growth and learning. And when things get stressful, they know to take a step back and prioritise their own health and well-being. These are all qualities that are adaptable and mouldable to all people, in all situations.
But these things don’t always come easy. It can be challenging to balance it all while maintaining a healthy degree of self-confidence. That’s where performance management and leadership development resources can really come in handy. To learn more about implementing strategies to boost confidence in the workplace, contact MindGym today.