There’s no end to what confidence can do for you in your workplace and life. Here at Project OTY, we’ve observed how this impacts organizations and leaders on massive levels.
Confidence in leadership is the cornerstone of the experience we offer to young professionals and high-achieving leaders.
Your level of confidence impacts how you show up in the world, and how the world sees you as a result.
First, what is “self-confidence”?
Essentially, self-confidence is your awareness of yourself and your abilities and your trust in yourself.
Each day you have a different measure of confidence based on a number of factors. This might include your appearance, critique received at work, daily stressors, or even a lack of knowledge or preparation for an event.
Self-confidence can’t be easily measured, but it’s no secret…
When you show up in the world as a confident individual, big opportunities tend to head your way.
Confidence attracts opportunities, both in work and in life.
In the workplace, confidence also lends itself to better performance and retention.
What does the research show?
According to Indeed, nearly 98% of people report that they work better when they feel confident.
Not only that – 96% of people report wanting to stay at a company where they feel confident.
With these numbers, it seems intuitive that nurturing confidence is essential in the workplace and in the lives of individual employees.
In a workplace where uncertainty arises, mistakes happen, management changes, and finances fluctuate…
How do you build self-confidence?
Beyond that, how do you build and sustain confidence in a company team?
How do you make sure everyone around you is confident to perform better in the long-term?
Whether we’re presented with challenges and opportunities, we need to be in a confident spot to take the helm.
Below we share seven simple exercises that you can use, and share with your team to become more confident at work.
1. Choose to be the leader in your life.
How often do you think of yourself as the main character in your life?
How often do you think about your ability to actively write your life story?
At the end of the day, we each have the ability to craft an amazing story. We are the leader of our lives.
No other person can effectively be the main character like we can.
It ends up coming down to making a daily choice: Do you choose to be the leader in your life?
If you aren’t taking confident action as the main character in your life, who is?
Do you let someone else write your tale, or do you write it yourself with confidence?
Understand that you are a sum of unique life experiences that leads you to unique events and challenges.
Take ownership of your life and start leading your life and career like the main character that you are.
You can do this by:
- Embracing opportunities
- Define what success means to you
- Make a plan to achieve your success
2. Create a plan.
Confident people who take the lead in their lives, make time to plan.
A plan makes facing the unknown less intimidating and allows you to look ahead with a greater sense of control.
For your life and career, consider looking ahead to the next 1-5 years. Ask yourself what success looks like for you.
Break down your idea of success into the different areas of your life. This includes social, health, work, financial, spirituality, recreation, community, etc.
How do you want to live? What do you want to be accomplishing?
Besides planning for the future, make points to plan more in your day-to-day.
Have an important report due? A big meeting coming up?
Break these big upcoming events down into a list or schedule of what smaller tasks need to get done to make them happen.
Make a list of steps to accomplish and prepare for those key moments at work.
Protect your confidence by planning to succeed.
Benjamin Franklin was right when he said “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
When you plan for your desired outcome, you more effectively remove your chance to fail.
When you know you’re unlikely to fail, you can move forward with greater confidence.
Additionally, aim for a backup plan. While preparation allows you to feel confident and more confidently achieve what you set out to do, life happens.
For example, say you were submitting a report to upper management and your computer crashed. How would you regain control of the situation?
Having a plan allows you to calmly approach and react to challenging situations. When things don’t go according to Plan A, you have a Plan B and C at the ready.
3. Pause to recharge.
When things don’t go as planned and challenges come up, it benefits you to take a step back.
When you feel tired and overworked, it’s important to push “pause”.
In general, overcoming hard moments and tense work events doesn’t go hand in hand with protecting our confidence.
In order to build and sustain confidence, take time for yourself. Walk around the office and neighborhood, or take time away from a computer screen. Enjoy a hike, pursue a creative activity or connect with friends and family.
Take the time you need that reflects your personal brand of self-care.
This means tapping into what allows you to rest and recharge to come back with confidence.
When you face tiredness and burnout – you can’t show up as the most confident version of yourself at work. After seven, hour-long back-to-back meetings in a day, for example, you likely don’t feel confident jumping back into emails and reports at full speed.
The way you work in a day is a snapshot of the general routine you maintain for the rest of your life.
Setting boundaries in order to practice self-care is not only essential for today. Taking time to recharge habitually informs the way you treat yourself to show up confidently for the rest of your life.
4. Acknowledge your unique strengths.
Being confident doesn’t come from acting like anyone else.
You might have heard “fake it ’till you make it”, but understand that the long-term confidence boost is you being your true self. You have to play the game of life to your strengths.
Everyone is the sum of their unique experiences in their life.
It makes sense then that you will have certain strengths as a result of your life experiences that will help you in work and life.
You need to lean into what you are uniquely skilled at. When you use your strengths each day, you set yourself up for confidently achieving.
In the workplace, you are productive within your team by contributing what you can do well, that can’t be readily replicated by others.
When you and your team understand the concept of unique strengths, everyone is in alignment to be more engaged and productive and play to each other’s strengths.
Like a sports team, everyone has their unique role on the field to play strategically in unison.
Everyone plays with the confidence to win when they know where they fit and what they do best.
How do you figure out your strengths? How can your team learn what each member is best at?
In the Project OTY online app, we show individuals and teams how to find their unique strengths by relying on the perception of others in a specialized exercise.
To get you started in reflecting:
- What would your colleague say your unique strength is?
- What would your boss say about your unique strengths at work?
- If a friend could describe you in three words, what would they say?
- When we look at our strengths in the eyes of others, we can look at ourselves through a more confident lens.
5. Treat mistakes as learning experiences.
Life tends to throw major curveballs. You make mistakes (as we all do), and unfortunate events happen when you least expect them.
The way you choose to frame those circumstances has a direct impact on your level of confidence.
If you feel the world is “happening to you” versus “for you”, it can drastically impact your feeling of control. It also impacts your confidence in confronting future events.
Your feeling of control is part of the measure of your confidence.
When difficult moments happen, flip the script and look at hard times being learning experiences.
Difficult moments and mistakes are important lessons that help you increase the likelihood of success in future endeavors.
Maybe you launched a sales campaign with your marketing team that fell flat in terms of expectations. You expended the energy to craft perfect ad copy and graphics, but no leads were biting.
Your confidence in your abilities as part of the team might have tanked. What do you do?
For the marketing team example, it’s essential to come back strong the next time in crafting a new and better campaign structure from scratch.
Like a marketing team returning to the drawing board, you have to be able to reflect back on mistakes, look for the possibility to improve and adapt, and return strong.
What are you learning from the mistakes you make, whether individually or as part of a team?
Are you making notes of what you learned in difficult moments you faced?
If you’re working as a group, does your team understand the key takeaways? Are you logging these lessons to come back to later?
How can these missteps be treated as a “blessing in disguise”?
By treating hard times, failures, or missteps as lessons learned, you can approach new or similar experiences in work and life with greater confidence.
As a team, mistakes can easily become vital lessons and standard operating procedures that help you and others confidently succeed later.
6. Project confidence with your body language.
Another point where we apply “fake it ’till you make it”.
Your body says a lot about how you show up in the world. The world and the people in it respond accordingly to the confidence you showcase.
By learning how to orient your body to project confidence at work and in life, you can show up confident in speaking and interacting with others easily.
Here are a few ideas to improve your self-esteem with your body language:
- Stand up straight.
- Practice and use power poses. (Amy Cuddy gives expert advice in her TED talk here.)
- Sit still and limit fidgeting.
- Make confident eye content with people you speak to.
- Use hand gestures when you speak.
- Naturally mirror the body language of others. (Tilting head, crossing legs, etc.)
7. Dedicate time for gratitude.
Saying “thank you” isn’t just polite.
Practicing gratitude has a positive effect on your mental, physical and emotional well-being.
According to Insider, not only does expressing gratitude help strengthen interpersonal connections with those around you, but it helps improve your self-confidence.
Here at Project OTY, our team starts each week by noting what we’re grateful for on Monday mornings.
In the workplace, dedicate time within your weekly meetings or check-ins to prompt gratitude sharing. Ask your team members what they are grateful for.
Start your morning on a confident note by making a list of what you’re grateful for in your life.
Gratitude helps team members by showing when help is received and given. When you or employees are involved in giving thanks, others are recognized and celebrated in a positive way.
Expressing gratitude allows you to celebrate wins continually. This boosts your confidence and that of your colleagues.
When you give thanks, you build the confidence of someone else. Giving thanks to them might look like supporting their leadership or ideas, congratulating, or giving a compliment.
This simple act boosts their self-image and sets you up for receiving help and support from them in turn in the future.
All of these benefits and ripple effects result from the concept of giving thanks to what you have and the work and help and strengths of those around you.
It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.
Building Confidence is a Journey
As with all exercises, these take practice and focus to achieve mastery.
The concepts of confidence, practice, and focus are all lessons we expand on in the Project OTY application. You can see what others are saying about this game-changing experience here.
By doing the work and incorporating these confidence exercises into your workday and workplace as daily habits, you’ll see the transformation over time.
Building and sustaining confidence is a lifelong practice. As your confidence levels may change day-to-day, it’s important to learn exercises to protect your confidence.
Become the confident individual you’re meant to be.
After all, this is your life – you are the main character.
Go forth to work, live and lead with confidence.