How do I build the confidence to lead?

“Be yourself: everyone else is taken”

The quote from Oscar Wilde resonates with me, as we are often looking to shape ourselves to fit in to a particular work environment, or situation that we think needs a particular trait. As a coach the topic of confidence comes up frequently in client conversations and increasingly the words “imposter syndrome” are used to describe this sense of not being good enough or having self-doubt.  In this blog we will explore what we mean by true confidence, as well as what we can do to increase our confidence levels. 

Definition of confidence

My own definition is: “The ability and awareness to show up as our true selves.” The dictionary definition states that it is “The feeling of belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something”. When we feel that we can be ourselves, there is a sense of acceptance and resourcefulness as I notice people can then express their opinions more easily as well as their ideas and challenges. Sometimes confidence is also described as “being at ease”, where there is acceptance from within about who you are, and the courage to show others who you are too. 

What impacts your confidence levels?

I notice that at times our confidence levels may be high and at other moments less so. Let’s explore some of the key factors that might change how we feel about ourselves:


In work and social settings, the people we surround ourselves with can impact how we feel. For example, there are people that bring out the best in us, i.e. we can be ourselves more easily, whereas with others we may feel like we need to prove ourselves or perform. This can impact the extent to which we can be ourselves. 


At work, you may feel more confident in some situations than others. For example, if you regularly present at a meeting, this may feel in your comfort zone, whereas suddenly the audience changes and you are out of your comfort zone, and this can bring a sense of unease. 


When our workload is too little or too much, this can bring with it stress and pressure. In turn this can impact how we see ourselves, and we may question our abilities in handling too much work or question our worth if too little is asked of us. 

Type of work 

Have you experienced moments at work where you feel completely “in flow” and where the work is in alignment with what you enjoy? You may find that in these moments your confidence levels increase because you are bringing your whole self to the work and gain a sense of achievement. Whereas another set of tasks make you question your abilities. 

Ways to increase confidence

The good news is that we can pro-actively work on our confidence levels through deploying some key strategies. 


The concept of the Johari window is useful here. By decreasing our blind spot (the areas we don’t know about ourselves) we are more likely to be able to accept ourselves and understand ourselves even better. By having regular reflection time, we can review the way we are showing up, consciously work on who we are and being at ease in sharing that with others. 

Focus on your energisers

I encourage you to write down all the things that energise you – or your strengths. They will tell you a lot about you at your most optimum, and the more we can focus on those aspects, the more our confidence increases. 

Break out of your comfort zone

Whilst our comfort zone is a nice place to be, it doesn’t bring about growth and resilience. If we take on new challenges, we grow in confidence as we learn we can do things that perhaps we didn’t know we could. The concept of fixed and growth mindset (Carol Dweck) is a useful resource to consider here too. 

Ask for feedback 

By asking others for feedback, we again grow our awareness about who we are and how we show up. With this knowledge we can be more aware of ourselves and what we bring. 

Our past

Through reflecting on the systems, we have been part of, we can also uncover what impact this may have on our thinking about ourselves. Systems may be family, friendships, social or organisational systems that we are a part of. For example, through our childhood we may have always been told we were the “clumsy one” or another such label. By understanding the different systems, we are part of, this can in turn help us see what role we had in these, and how this has shaped our thinking about ourselves today. 

Key tips to help us build our confidence include:

  • Regular coaching sessions.
  • Focus on strengths and what brings you energy. 
  • Take on new challenges. 
  • Ask for feedback. 
  • Reflect on the past systems we were part of. 

In Summary

As you start to reflect on your confidence levels, I’d love to hear what your definition of confidence is. If you would like support in increasing your confidence please get in touch to see how coaching can support you.  

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