The Self-Confident Leader

What is it about self-confidence that is so appealing?  

  • We are drawn to people who believe in themselves.
  • Confident people are simply happy with where they are in life and believe they are capable of reaching their goals.
  • Confident people seem to know what they want, and are not afraid to ask for it, or go after it.
  • They’re typically comfortable in their own skin and well-adjusted.
  • They have a sense of ease which is appealing.
  • They are not afraid to express themselves.
  • Confident people transform the energy in the room.
  • They are authentic, they do not try to be something or someone else.

Think about someone you know who is confident. What is it about that person that says confidence? Then think about someone you know who lacks confidence. What is it different about the two?

The person who comes to my mind that exudes confidence is my husband. Why? 

  • He is confident about his abilities and is comfortable with who he is.
  • He is decisive, takes action, and follows through.
  • He is a positive person and tries to find the positive in all situations.
  • He values integrity and honesty above all things.
  • He isn’t afraid to try new things. He sees it as a challenge and is willing to work to master it.
  • He doesn’t worry about what others think about him.
  • He has a positive energy that transforms the room.

How did he get this way? Part of it is personality,part is hard work and taking calculated risks, facing his fears and building upon his successes.

Self-confidence is:

  • an individual’s level of certainty about their ability to handle things.  
  • essential for the leader to influence collaborators, or followers.
  • the leadership trait that was most often identified in a 2002 study.
  • developed at an early age and is influenced by others, experience, our successes and failures, and how they are interpreted in our minds.
  • the level of general self-confidence that we each acquire in childhood remains fairly stable over our lifetime.
  • formed through our successes and failures, how others react to us and what we expect of our future performances. 

Axelrod in her chapter on leadership and self-confidence, discusses the idea of self-leadership to build self-confidence.  Self-leadership involves changing our way of thinking to believe in what we want.  She states:

“…after we fail at a task, most of us automatically berate ourselves, but if we practice self-leadership, we can observe that we failed only because it was a learning experience and assure ourselves that we will succeed next time…positive expectation helps guide our thoughts in a constructive direction and manage our emotions, so it helps builds task-specific self-confidence, which can enhance performance because people who believe they can perform well tend to do better than those who expect to fail…self-leadership may be the leader’s single most important skill, …to shape our internal life story to foster success…”


Take Risks: Leaders who are confident tend to have positive expectations and are willing to take risks. The willingness to take risks, along with believing in their own competence helps build success.

Our level of self-confidence also affects our willingness to complete a task when we fear failure. Those with a high level of confidence will adjust their goals to be more manageable and achievable.

Manage their emotions:  A leader who remains emotionally stable, manages his/her anxiety and anger during difficult confrontations, and focuses on constructive language will be more successful. This self-control will put the leader in a positive light. On the other hand, lack of self control can damage trust, commitment, and the leader’s reputation.

Are Authentic: When leaders reach a level of success and seniority, they may have to take a stand about their personal values, beliefs and principles. This may attract criticism and polarize people. When faced with harsh critics, the best advice is to ignore them if your decisions are ethical, and principle based. Don’t let them get in your head, if they do, banish them like you banish your inner critic. 

Takeaways to Build your Self-Confidence

Imaging/rehearsal: Picture the activity in your mind and what a successful outcome looks like. Rehearse what might happen, what might be said and how you might to respond to the scenarios your mind generates. This acts as a rehearsal for the real thing and prepares us for what might happen. Athletes and many who have life coaches or mentors, are coached to use this method to visualize success.

Constructive self-talk: Catch your inner self-talk to identify destructive patterns. Confront and silence the inner critic, boost your confidence, and reduce anxiety. Speak to your inner critic and tell it that it is wrong, it is a liar, you are going to send it for a time out, it is going to a parking lot, etc. A tip someone shared with me was to wear a rubber band on my wrist and snap it every time the inner critic started. Then call out the critic and re frame the thought to a more positive message. Catch it before it changes the message in your head.

Competence: Focus on what you do well; your competence and abilities. Avoid comparing yourself with others. Be proud of what you do well.

Eliminate triggers: Avoid negative thinking or spending time around things or people that can make you feel bad about yourself-anything that leaves you thinking you’re not good enough. Re-frame your thinking-change your mindset.

Bounce back from your mistakes: No one is perfect. Even the most confident people have insecurities, and there’s no one alive who hasn’t made a mistake. Don’t let one wrong turn, or even a few of them, make you think you don’t have what it takes to achieve your goals and reach your success.

Surround yourself with people who believe in you: Nothing is as powerful as people who think you’re great, who believe you can do the impossible, and who have all the confidence in the world in you. Surround yourself with those people and be intentional about maintaining those connections. Stick with the people who lift your perspective and avoid (or at least tune out) those who make you feel bad or doubt yourself.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.

Jim Rohn

Take pride in yourselfSome people think that taking pride in yourself means that you can’t be humble. You can recognize and appreciate who you are and what you’ve accomplished without being arrogant. Sometimes it’s the motivation we need when things get tough.

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Take Care of Yourself: Pause, Reflect and Refresh

Photo by Dave Dollar on Unsplash

We have just passed the one-year anniversary mark for COVID-19. About a year ago we went into shut down mode.

COVID is the disruptor that has thrown the world off its axis. The world shut down and we learned and are still learning how to deal with the new world. Most of us learned to adapt. We put on face masks, we are social distancing, we put off any kinds of celebrations, we stopped travelling and we stopped physically seeing our friends and families. Instead, we learned to use zoom, teams, Skype, Facetime, and other online platforms that allowed us to be together virtually. We could play games with each other, have virtual drinks and dinners to keep the connection.

A full year later, we are excited about the news that there are vaccines to help the world become normal-ish.

With the last year in lockdown, the cumulative effects of COVID are taking their toll on us. There is more stress, unemployment, mental health issues, and prolonged lack of human contact or interaction.

Lately, I have been seeing messages everywhere that say the same basic thing, take care of yourself, take time to pause, reflect and refresh. It’s like this message is following me around and so I say…

Take care of yourself

While we wait for COVID restrictions to end and vaccinations to reach herd immunity levels; take care of yourself. We have been running on stress, overwhelm and burnout. While some stress is helpful to stimulate peak functioning, too much stress has the opposite effect. That’s why it is important to take a break, pause, reflect and refresh. The break gives us a chance to reset, catch our breath and really see what is going on. We can see things anew, things that we have stopped seeing. We can start engaging in those things that build us up and get rid of those things that tear us down.

Take a physical break

Take a holiday. It doesn’t mean you have to go away physically, but you can if you are able to. It means take a holiday from the thing that is creating the stress or overwhelm.  The holiday could be a simple walk in the woods or along a beach. Nature has healing qualities, take advantage of them, they are free. You can look at photos of holidays in the past or family/friend functions that you enjoyed. These simple acts can help you feel like you have gone away and refreshed yourself by leaving you with the feel-good hormones.

Let go

We also need to let go. Many of us feel that things will fall apart if we are not there to care for them. That’s just not true. Life will go on. Did you ever hear of an organization collapsing because someone left it? No. Someone else steps into that gap. If we don’t let go, we won’t move forward. If we don’t let go, we will never grow. Letting go is a part of life.

I’ve noticed that when I reset and let go, life gets better. The answers come for the problems I have been trying to solve. I make better decisions and I am less stressed and worried about things. I am more creative and productive.


Learn to relax.When you take care of your mind and body, you’re better able to cope effectively with challenges in your life. Get quality sleep, try out a new exercise or use physical relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or meditation

Always working, thinking and producing is counterproductive. The body was not designed to go 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.  Even God rested on the seventh day. Rest gives you time to regenerate and remove some of the harmful hormones and toxins that have entered the body because of the overload you have put on your system.

Mind your mindset

This is a big one! Your mind is a powerful tool, use it to your advantage! Think differently on purpose. What you focus on grows. Focus on those things that will lift you up, inspire you and re-ignite you.

Our thoughts can wear us out, especially if they are constantly negative, fearful and stressful. Take control of your thoughts. This requires discipline and practice. Refuse to listen to thoughts that keep you in the muck, fight back. This also helps to keep things in perspective. Replace the negative thoughts with positive ones; from “I can’t do this, to, I got this.”

Rewire your brain to look at things from a more positive perspective. Think of failures as learning opportunities. This requires discipline and practice. The reward is that it makes you more resilient and you rebound more quickly from setbacks.

Many leaders and top entrepreneurs practice gratitude. This requires discipline and practice. It helps to refocus thoughts from a mindset of lack to one of abundance, from the negative to the positive and from roadblocks to opportunities.

What are you grateful for?

Be kind to yourself

We can be kind to others, but somehow, we think it doesn’t apply to ourselves. Be kind to you.

What I do

Almost every morning I have a yoga stretching routine that I do. Because I sit all day long, I find that by the end of the day my muscles are tight, so stretching in the morning is sooo nice! If it isn’t that, I walk. I live in a neighborhood where there are so many trees that my walks are peaceful and calming. That might not be for you, maybe its running, cycling, high intensity workout, Pilates, or something else. The physical activity removes the stress that has built up in your body and clears the mind.

I also like to do some deep breathing exercises. This helps to reduce my stress. I find that I do this almost instinctively, especially when I need to manage a stressful situation. The breathing helps me to relax, reflect and refocus.


Do something nice tor someone else-it will help them, and it will help you.


We can’t keep going if our tank runs out of gas. We need to take time for ourselves. It will help us build up our physical and mental reserves so that we can keep going and live our life to the fullest.

Make this a priority in your life!

“I think, therefore I am” René Descartes

The mind is a powerful tool. It shapes your beliefs and actions. We believe what we have programmed into our minds. The good news is we can change what we believe and change our actions.

 How we live our life is based on what we think of ourselves.

I came acorss this poem that I think really expresses it well by Walter D. Wintle.

If you think you are beaten, you are

If you think you dare not, you don’t,

If you like to win, but you think you can’t,  it is almost certain you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost

For out of the world we find,

Success begins with a fellow’s will,  it’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are

You’ve got to think high to rise,

You’ve got to be sure of yourself before You can ever win a prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go To the stronger or faster man,

But soon or late the man who wins, is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!”

Henry Ford said it best when he said “whether you think you can or you can’t you’re right.”

The mind is a powerful tool. What you put into your mind is what it will believe and therefore it is what you believe.

The good news is that you can change your message to yourself, change your belief and change your action.

Question is – Do you want to change? Change involves a lot of effort and consistent action.

Thought leaders talk about changing your beliefs. It is a process.

Listen to the messages you are telling yourself. “I can’t do this, this is hard, I’m not smart enough…..”

Refute the message you are telling . “Tell yourself that the message isn’t true.”

Reprogram your messaging. Give your mind a new message. ” I can do this, I got this, I can figure this out”

Keep at it until it is true. Dr. Shannon Irvine has said that it takes about 67 days to reprogram your messaging to a new belief system.

Set your Intention

When you set your intention you are being deliberate about your actions. You decide what you are going to do for the day, the week, the month, or year. Successful leaders set professional, personal and relational intentions to laser focus their mindset for success.

What do I mean by this?

I mean be deliberate about how you plan to improve and live your life.

My good friend Google Search, provided me with a description of intention: Setting an intention is activating a part of your receptivity. If you were to go out in the day, and not have set any intention or created any type of prayer or manifestation of how you want the day to go, then you’re getting on a bike with no direction.

Successful people like to set intentions-personal, professional and relational. The intentions they set, help them to maintain a mindset that is laser focused and put them in the frame of mind to succeed, because they deliberately feed their minds with edifying thoughts.

What does setting an intention look like:

Today I will tell someone that I am grateful for them being in my life

Today I will show kindness to someone

I will complete this task

I will eat healthy today to strengthen and fuel my body. I will crave healthy snacks.

What is the difference between a goal and an intention?

Once again Google came to my rescue: Goals are a destination or specific achievement. Intentions are lived each day, independent of achieving the goal or destination. Goals are external achievements. Intentions are about your relationship with yourself and others.

Goals are future oriented.

Intentions are for the present.

Why is setting an intention valuable?

Working together intentions and goals can get you where you want to go.

It simultaneously works from the inside out and outside in. When you set your intention and carry it out, you are changing your mindset. When you change your mindset you can change the direction of your life.  You become what you think and focus on. Your actions follow your thoughts.

Lets say you want to be kinder. You set your intention for the day to be kinder. You say thank you, please, that was a nice gesture, that was helpful information, you give money to someone who is homeless, etc. Your action followed your intention. You keep up this intention and practice until it becomes second mature.

What happened? You changed your inside thinking, your actions made you a kinder person. You changed your mindset first, and became what you intended.

Feel free to share how you are intentional about your day, your week, your life?