How to build confidence in the workplace: a six-part series

As a career development coach, I often hear my clients reporting that they lack confidence. These individuals are intelligent, successful, and are highly revered by their peers and superiors. Yet, many of them report feelings of inadequacies and experience the well-known imposter syndrome. I guess this should not be surprising; liking and appreciating yourself is the most challenging and important tasks you are faced to conquer. Often, you have past experiences and events that shape a low or poor self-image.


In the following confidence building series, I will peel away the layers of this thing called “confidence” and share some tips and strategies for you to strengthen and build it in the workplace. Research shows that the higher levels of confidence you have, the greater levels of success and productivity you will generate. This confidence building series will identify how capture it, bottle it and spritz it on when you feel you need it the most.


So, what exactly is confidence? You can see it easily in others. You know it exists. You can visualize colleagues and leaders that you know who have “it”. A client, Heather, quickly referred to Condoleezza Rice as someone who she admired and felt depicted confidence. She described that Condoleezza "comes across as introverted and despite that, she has a strong confident presence. She doesn’t conform to social norms expected of her age, race or gender. She stated her position unapologetically. She is humble and respectful".


Meriam-Webster defines confidence as “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities”. So, confidence is a feeling and a belief. But I think it is a bit more. It may start there yet it manifests into something far more apparent that creates a feeling and experience when you are in its presence.


Confidence has many faces and will serve a variety of purposes. One area it serves is your sense of self-respect and self-admiration. According to Mark Leary, a researcher on self-confidence and self-esteem, says that people with lots of confidence in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided. They set themselves challenging goals and maintain a strong commitment to them. Therefore, self-confidence has value and will benefit your success and achievements both professionally and personally.


When asked to describe confidence, it is difficult to nail confidence down to just one thing. Rather, it appears to be the overall essence of a person who embodies varied qualities that make up their observable levels of confidence. It is like an ice cream flavor that you want to order but doesn’t have a name just yet.


Think about what it would be like if you were going to order that flavor; the flavor of confidence. You say to your server that “you want that – what she has” as you wring your hands together attempting to describe the taste you are trying to put into words. But the name and all its ingredients seem elusive. The goal towards building confidence in the workplace is to create your own recipe; blend, scoop and sprinkle the components that make you, you.


If confidence building feels unattainable it may be that you think you need to “be and act” like others who seem to have “it”. Confidence building will become more palatable and doable when you realize that you define, create, and design your own confidence look and persona.


In my upcoming series of articles on building confidence, I will explore and drill down ways for you to heighten your self-confidence so that you can exude courage and faith in yourself particularly in the workplace. Here are the areas for further discussion:


· Your self-awareness,

· Your mindset,

· Your actions,

· Your ability to “own it” and

· Putting yourself out there.


If your career development goals focus on developing and establishing a higher level of self-confidence, please make sure to read my upcoming building confidence series. Here is some homework to get you ready. Start with answering the following questions:


1. In five short phrases or words, what does confidence in the workplace look like to you?

2. Who possess a level of confidence that you admire and why?

3. In what areas do you already feel a sense of confidence at work?

4. What is one small action that you can take at work to make you feel more confident this week?




Make a valiant attempt at answering the questions above and start the process of elevating confidence on your terms. As Williams Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt”. Attempt on my friends …. That builds confidence.