Don’t let the hard knocks define your leadership strategy. From good health to tracking your wins, try these strategies to help build your self-confidence over time—so you’re well-positioned for even bigger wins.
Anyone, even CEOs, can experience a burst of self-doubt that has them second-guessing their decisions.
In those times, how do you find that inner self-confidence and build upon it? Well, it won’t be easy and might take a bit of time, but there are plenty of strategies that could help you along. Among them:
Take note of your success. Too often, we let the grind of the day to day wear us down, at the cost of what we’ve done and where we’ve made an impact. It helps to keep reminders of these points for later by actively tracking them, notes speaker and strategist Maria Ross of Red Slice LLC. “Sometimes we can’t always objectively see how far we’ve come or what we’ve achieved until it’s in front of us in black and white (or in color, if you’re into charts and graphs),” Ross writes in Thrive Global.
Focus on the basics. In an article for Inc., contributing editor Jeff Haden suggests that an air of self-confidence comes from a focus on the basics—that is, remembering to crack a smile, moving around more, and eating healthy. One strategy he suggests, borrowed from Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy? Do two minutes of “power posing”—that is, standing like Superman. “Standing tall, holding your arms out or toward the sky, or standing like Superman with your hands on your hips—will dramatically increase your level of confidence,” he writes. “Before you step into a situation where you know you’ll feel nervous, insecure, or intimidated, strike your pose. (Just make sure no one is watching.)”
Don’t let your inner critic win. Self-doubt often comes about as a result of psyching yourself out. Think about how it felt as a kid to get bullied, for example—the comments hurt, but the real damage came to your self-confidence. Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., director of research and education at the Glendon Association, suggests that it’s important to find your inner critic, then to pull it out and combat it. “Most everyone I’ve encountered has related to the concept of the inner voice and been able to identify how it has interfered with a specific area of their lives,” Firestone writes on her site. “In order to combat this inner critic, it is essential that you identify it.” She says that the actions you take are effective in fighting it. “Try as it may to influence you, you can defeat the voice because you have the ultimate control of your actions,” she continues.
Have a support system in place. You’re going to run into tough situations at work, and those are going to breed doubt. But having people you can turn to outside of the office is hugely important, writes leadership strategist Ron Carucci in Forbes. “For many leaders, self-care is the first thing to go. Good nutrition, sufficient sleep, and routine exercise are table stakes for leaders facing harsh headwinds,” he says. “Having a safe place to vent, regain perspective, and monitor emotional triggers is also key. A great executive coach, therapist, or peer executive support group can be your greatest ally when intense, confusing emotions begin to stockpile.”