Self-Confidence is a Skill Worth Developing

be your authentic self as an executive

Most people think of self-confidence as an inherent quality, but it’s really a skill that can be cultivated and developed if you set your mind to it. Self-confidence is a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment. When you are self-confident, you value yourself and feel deserving and worthy, regardless of your weaknesses.

Those who are confident in their work often get promoted faster. These six strategies will help you to start developing self-confidence, and with enough practice, leverage that confidence to can help propel you in your career.

Use your appearance to project confidence

If you look good, you will feel good. Have your hair styled, wear something you feel fantastic in. Paste a smile on your face. Engage with others and maintain eye contact when you do. Use body language to your advantage by siting or standing up straight, and maintaining an open demeanor. Act positively and make sure you are part of the conversation. These efforts may feel unnatural at first, but the more you integrate confident body language and habits into your every day life, the more you’ll begin to feel confidence from within. You may also notice that people begin to relate to you differently, boosting your confidence even further. 

Speak slowly and deliberately

If you rush and speak quickly, it will make you appear nervous; talking fast gives the impression that what you are saying isn’t worth listening to, so you’re trying to get across as much as you can before others stop listening. Speaking slowly and with authority projects confidence; it signals to others that they should slow down and listen. This is another habit that will take practice, but will also take you far once you’ve established it.

Speak Slowly

Practice and prepare

You can’t just expect to show up and be confident. You have to practice and prepare yourself. One way to do this is in a one-on-one or small group setting. Ask a friend or colleague to do some role playing with you, or have a few family members set up and listen to a presentation. Practicing what you will say and how you will say it will help you work out the kinks and make you feel more confident. Encourage your partner(s) to give you feedback; even if they are not familiar with your industry, they will still be able to tell you about your body language and style of speaking.

Are you an introvert who struggles with your confidence? Executive Career Coach Nancy Ancowitz specializes in helping introverts to shine!

Be humble

Being confident does not translate into being a know-it-all. Part of being confident is not only believing in yourself, but knowing your limitations, and being candid about them. It also means being secure enough in your own abilities to welcome and lift up the talents of those around you. You will actually project more confidence if you acknowledge you don’t know something, but would like to learn more about it. You could also make a compelling suggestion that someone else on the team is more qualified to take on the task, which will show you aren’t intimidated by others who might be better at something than you are. 

Increase your competence

Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths and the unique skills and perspectives you bring to the team. You are in your position because you are very good at what you do, be sure to remember that daily. Seek out opportunities to become even better at your core skills, and Increase competenceonce you do, you’ll be even more confident in your work. You might also consider tackling a new skill or business approach and bringing it back to the team; if the information is new to them, you’ll feel like an expert when you explain it, and that also builds confidence. 

Mind tricks work!

Part of building confidence is having a confident mind-set. We all have days when we feel low, or times in which we feel like we’ve failed; these are certainly not confidence-boosters. But what you can do during these times is play a little trick on your mind and think about something you are proud of. Remind yourself of a time you were successful, a time you helped someone out and felt great about it, an accomplishment you worked hard for. Thinking about these things will help drive out those negative thoughts and bolster your confidence. You might even consider making a list of the top three things you are most proud of, and keeping it in a place to review daily, bolstering that confidence level ever day. 

Don’t let a soft skill like lack of confidence get in the way of advancing your career. Some of these tips will have you feel more confident right away, but others are more of a slow build. Incorporating all of them will give you a steady approach to building confidence with long-term gains and small wins along the way.

Struggling to project confidence? An Executive Career Coach can help!

About the Author

Jennifer L. Grybowski has been a journalist and writer for 20 years. She has written about business, government, politics, education, and culture. She holds a MFA from Southern New Hampshire University, and also writes fiction. Connect with her at