How to be Confident at Work

confident at work


Sally Grisedale

What is Confidence?

Confidence – it’s that feeling of self-assurance that says, “I’ve got this!” It’s the work you do with a good attitude that leaves you feeling happy, powerful, and effective.

National workplace expert Lynn Taylor says, “If you know your subject and stance, believe in yourself, and speak with poise and conviction, you will naturally exude confidence.”

Lacking Confidence?

Lacking confidence leads to beating yourself up over mistakes or shortcomings and/or obsessing about future risks. Stress and unhappiness inhibit your effectiveness.

Being pushed by negative feelings of anxiety, blame, guilt, or shame is a slow and difficult way to learn how to be effective and confident.

However, when you’re pulled by positive feelings of curiosity, compassion, creativity, and love for yourself and others you will become effective and confident much quicker, according to Shirzad Chamine, author of Positive Intelligence.

4 Tips for Building Confidence at Work

1. Focus on Yourself

Regardless of what’s going on around you, needy people, petty politics, a distracting work environment, when you focus on the things you are accountable for, you’ll cut through the noise and prevail. Focusing on your own needs will build your confidence.

In Still Me by Jo Jo Moyes, when Mrs. Clark’s daughters leave home and her father passes away, she is left without a ‘why.’ With no one to care for, she has nothing to focus on and is unable to see that it’s time she looks after herself.

It’s not selfish to focus on getting your own needs met. Dr. Sanjay Gupta says, “When you take care of yourself, you take care of everyone.”

2. Lead with your Strengths
When you lead from your strengths, you feel engaged and energized. I sense this comes from the external challenge appealing to your internal creativity. Ask yourself:

What are the things that you do better than anyone else?

What activities energize you?

Does your current work allow you to play to your strengths?

Take an inventory of the things you do better than anyone else, and ask yourself how you can use those strengths to do your job.

Someone I coach confided in me, “Now I understand why people look to me as a thought leader. It’s because I’m the only one in the room whose read everything on the topic we’re discussing.”

A lifelong passion for reading and researching her subject matter has led to her being recognized as a thought leader in her field and attracted a great offer from an amazing company she is confident about working with.

3. Prioritize your Superpowers
I hear from many leaders how the work they loved most, developing and nurturing world class teams, has been changed by the pandemic. Gone are the days of taking the team out for lunch, hosting an offsite, a beer bust, a summer picnic, having a bring your child to work day.

You can’t bring back what you lost, but you can rediscover your natural strengths – the ones you ignored when being an empathic, influencer leader was easy and available!

Creative thinkers – try taking Markus Buckingham’s Standout 2.0 – Assess Your Strengths, Find Your Edge, Win At Work

Extraordinary Leaders – try taking Gallup Strengths Based Leadership Assessment Finder.

You are welcome to share your assessment report with me, and we can discuss how you can use the findings to build your confidence by playing to all your strengths.

4. Be a Role Model of Positive Attitude
When you’re hostage to your inner critics, for example, having a competing commitment, having an axe to grind, a personal agenda, or an emotional wound that won’t be healed, it keeps you separate from other people. Isolation and unhappiness are the cost of being unwilling or unable to feel safe assuming a positive attitude at work.

Being positive doesn’t always mean being “happy.” It’s not an Instagram moment. Being positive means being resilient. Inner work is needed to build a positive attitude, and this requires ongoing work on personal well-being, vigilance, and self-awareness.

In practical terms, “Focus on how you can provide solutions rather than spend a lot of time discussing the problem,” writes Lynn Taylor. “Workers are drawn to those with an upbeat attitude, especially when challenges emerge, and it can start with you. It’s contagious, even with your boss, and it will project confidence as you make this part of your ‘personal brand.’”

The Benefit of Having a Healthy Level of Confidence

A healthy level of confidence is important because it will lead you to engage in challenging but manageable projects. Becoming and staying positive gets you outside your comfort zone. It’s a valued characteristic of successful people and allows you to attain new goals.

Dr. Katharine Brooks says that with a positive attitude “Employers will know that they can trust you with a project and that you are likely going to be good at motivating others as well.”

Are you ready to step into the next level of leadership with greater confidence? Are you willing to work with me to:

  • Reclaim your natural powers and lead from your greatest strengths?
  • Identify and manage your limiting beliefs, so you can make decisions informed by a positive attitude not a narrative past its sell by date?
  • Claim your values and make decisions based on those which are important to you?

If you are, you may be a fit for my 1:1 coaching program. Please set up a free discovery call below and see if coaching is a fit.

Photo by Mike Saowne for Unsplash

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What Is the Leading by Design Newsletter? Great question.

Leading by Design is a blog for creative leaders working in tech. It’s not a “Why You Should Use AI in Design Thinking” or “How to Hire and Retain Product Design Teams with Impact” type of blog. There are enough of those.

I write about the challenges you can’t safely discuss as creative leaders working in tech. The stories come directly from my experience leading teams at Apple, Meta, Yahoo!, and some start-ups and from the executive design leaders I coach today.

I have written about the stressful magpie boss, hateful cross-functional peers, creative burnout, the shame of job loss and survivor guilt, and the fear of becoming irrelevant in the marketplace.

I publish once a week and offer strategies to reframe your challenge so you can return to being the creative leader your team loves you to be.

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