Quite a few of my recent blogs have focused on the issue of confidence and how problematic certain ways of framing confidence are when it comes to leadership.  In particular, how it skews the leadership pool and then backfires on us.

For those of you asking yourself just what is wrong with helping people to increase their self-confidence, let me reassure you that I am not anti-confidence all the time and for everything.   Higher self-confidence does have benefits, so for people low in self-esteem, why wouldn’t you want to help them to experience them?

No reason why not, if the systemic barriers to confidence are addressed, and the methods used are effective.  And remember, self-confidence needs the balance of self-awareness to actually be valuable in leadership.

If you want to change the confidence climate and help people to increase their confidence, try these tactics:

  1. Close gaps in systemic issues such as gendered definitions of success, talent and capability
  1. When someone experiences self-doubt, identify what it is about the work context that might contribute to the doubt, name it and change it
  1. Similarly, when someone expresses over-confidence encourage them to be less certain, to entertain reasonable doubt, and help them to see alternative ways to view the situation
  1. Foster a safe learning environment; focus on high levels of psychological safety for all team members, encourage shared learning and call out instances of uncertainty and doubt, systematically review projects and teamwork to identify ways to improve
  1. Help your organisation to reframe the whole talent discussion and to focus on the leadership capabilities that research shows are effective

Unless and until we do these things, we perpetuate the over-promotion of too-confident individuals, have role models who display the wrong behaviours, foster toxic work environments and prevent those who have real talent and are humble from taking their rightful places at the top of our organisations.

It’s time to rethink our leadership myths so that we get the leaders we need. If you need that rethinking, let’s talk! Here’s a link to my calendar to set up a time.

Share This