As a Master’s student in Business Management, I have been told quite a lot about the different types of leadership in the business world. Yet, I am still surprised that so few people mention the importance of self-confidence in self-development and in leadership. Over the last few days I have tried to dig up and gather together some pieces of information from the internet and I would like to share with you what I have learned aobut valuing self-confidence in the workplace.

« It is confidence in our bodies, minds and spirits that allows us to keep looking for new adventures, new directions to grow in, and new lessons to learn — which is what life is all about” (Oprah Winfrey). Confidence is the trust or faith you have in yourself and your abilities, be it at a personal or a professional level. As managers and leaders, confidence is extremely important in the workplace as it not only contributes to your own success as a leader, but also inspires employees and coworkers. While confidence must be built over time, there are some measures that will help you think of yourself more positively and develop a greater sense of confidence.

In the workplace, confident leaders implement effective and powerful environments for themselves and their peers. Confident leaders accept their strengths and weaknesses in a constructive way and they perceive their lack of experience as untapped potential. They also listen to others and surround themselves with colleagues who will challenge and support them. Most importantly, confident leaders inspire confidence in others, including their audience, peers or customers. Gaining the confidence of others is a key to building their own success. Thus, confident leaders believe in themselves and in what they do, and they have the ability to create stimulating working environments.

Regrettably, not every person is naturally confident and some leaders may compromise their own success and the positive mindset of their team by a lack of self-confidence. Insufficient confidence can impact an individual’s career choices and professional progression, as someone lacking self-confidence tends to believe he/she cannot undergo challenges or climb the corporate ladder. In addition, the workplace is sometimes so competitive and hostile towards leaders and managers that they suffer a crisis in confidence and no longer trust their own judgment. In the worst case scenario, leaders who demonstrate a severe lack of confidence sometimes create a tough persona to avoid showing any sign of vulnerability or weakness. These leaders may become unpopular with their teams and considered to be arrogant and unwilling to listen to their peers. Hence, unconfident leaders open the door to decreased motivation and weak creativity in their working environment.

Fortunately, confidence can be learned and developed. The following few tips promote a positive and productive self-image:
Don’t be afraid to fail: tackle your fear of failure by making a commitment to doing at least one thing you fear every month, such as making a presentation in front of people, learning a new skill or attending a social event alone.
Think positive: consider your previous experiences as opportunities to learn of as something you have yet to master. Think “I can’t yet” instead of “I can’t”.
Ask for feedback: ask people you respect what are your greatest strengths. This may require a lot of courage but it can really help you see your blind spots.
Challenge yourself to try new things: find projects that give you an opportunity to use your strengths.
Don’t compare yourself to others: although it is tempting to compare oneself to others who appear greater and better, what is less evident is the probability that the confidence of others may well be the result of considerable investment in personal growth.

In conclusion, as managers and leaders, self-confidence is a central key quality to develop and sustain not only for personal growth but also for the development of effective teams. As such, a few tips can help you rethink some of your mental processes and develop healthy self-confidence. Beyond such “inner-thought” tips, what if our body language was able to change the way we see ourselves? This is actually what the social psychologist Amy Cuddy demonstrates in her TED talk “Your body language shapes who you are”.