Quite often, as team leaders, we are told that learning to work with others, and seeking to achieve success with and for the team, goes hand in hand with having confidence as a “boss”.


In reality, having confidence, or self-belief, is an essential prerequisite for first learning the appropriate leadership skills, and then successfully engaging them within a team. As such, our existing level of confidence in ourselves both as a person and a leader becomes paramount to success.

We all encounter people who are “over-confident”, and we are left with the impression of “cockiness”. And then there are those who seem to shy away from their responsibilities as a leader … not a good impression to leave either, as this shows in how they interact with others.

So, a lot of team leaders are either lacking confidence, or have more than their fair share. Both scenarios can be damaging for different reasons.

Getting the right mix of confidence is the challenge. Leaders who “get it right” inspire confidence in their employees, their own managers and even their clients.

You would probably be surprised how many people are genuinely confident team leaders – the ones with total awareness of their ability but without the cockiness that people often mistake for confidence.

Reality check – not as many as you might think!

In fact, many experienced team leaders are so busy building an image of confidence and reputation they fail to be genuine, and that is a recipe for future disaster.

Inexperienced leaders suffer a different issue – their lack of self-belief and confidence, despite their potential, can be a major roadblock in their development.

We all need to be realistic about our level of confidence, and be prepared to work on getting it right just as much as we do on getting our supervision of others right. One without the other may help you look good, but it won’t help you become genuinely brilliant.

Your level of confidence can be seen in how you behave at work when talking with others. It manifests through your body language, the words you use, how you use them, how you dress, and so on.

Consider the following comparisons between people exhibiting self-confidence and low self-confidence.

Leaders with self-confidence:

  • Do what they believe is right.
  • Embrace risks to achieve their goal.
  • Admit and learn from their mistakes.
  • Let others acknowledge their successes.
  • Accept compliments and the respect of others

Leaders with low self-confidence

  • Act on what they think others expect of them.
  • Fear failure, and are not prepared to take a risk.
  • Divert attention away from any mistakes they make.
  • Seek to tell other how well they are doing.
  • Dismiss compliments as if it’s nothing special.

Low self-confidence often displays as negativity,

while self-confidence (not overly high self-confidence) manifests as a sense of positivity.

Two things that contribute to self-confidence are self-efficacy and self-esteem.

  • Self-efficacy = seeing ourselves mastering skills and achieving goals set.
  • Self-esteem = knowing we can cope with what is going on.

A common belief is that confidence is developed through affirmations and positive thinking. True, but it goes further.

Setting and achieving goals builds competence. Without a sense of competence when you are in front of your team you will more likely experience “shallow self-confidence” rather than genuine self-confidence, and this may lead to disaster under pressure.

For those of us who have recognised their leadership skills would benefit from greater self-confidence there are three simple steps to heightened success.

Step One:

Think about where you are right now as a team leader, where you want to be, and prepare yourself to be committed to achieving greater self-confidence. There are five things you can do to achieve this:

  1. Look at what you have already.
  2. Consider the use of a SWOT Analysis to take stock of “who” you are as a leader.
  3. Think about what’s important to you in your career and where you would like to “end up”.
  4. Ensure you use positive words and statements rather than negative ones that hold you back from enjoying your achievements? Consider using visual imagery to enhance your positive self-talk.
  5. Commit yourself to the success you have identified as important. Write your targeted achievements down, and continue to manage them over time.

Step Two:

Now you’ve identified what you have working for you it’s possible to begin to move towards accomplishing your over-riding target – greater self-confidence.

By taking it slowly but surely you will experience successes – small wins – that reinforce your commitment, and your growing confidence. To achieve this,

  • acquire and build the knowledge and skills you have identified as necessary for success
  • focus on staying on track and not over-extending
  • keep your steps small and focused to allow you to continue achieving them
  • continue to manage your thoughts.

Step Three:

With your self-confidence starting to grow, and it will be showing in your demeanour and your approach to leading your fellow workers, start to consider extending yourself even further by:

  • setting yourself even bigger and more challenging targets
  • looking to identifying and developing new skills that would help escalate your career
  • increase your commitment to succeeding at this.

Success breeds confidence, and confidence builds success.

A few thoughts to consider with all this.

  • Self-confidence is all about balance.
  • Keep yourself grounded in reality.
  • Keep stretching yourself.

 A respected and successful team leader is one that has the ability, the drive, the commitment and an honest self-confidence in who they are … and the desire to grow all these attributes to achieve the best level of success possible.

So, are you a team leader, or are you working towards becoming a CONFIDENT team leader.