How Leaders Can Develop Confidence in Themselves and Their Employees

As a CEO, it is, in-part, your responsibility to ensure that your staff are able to face tough situations with high self-confidence, believing they can prevail when it really counts. There are simple ways you can achieve this. One of the greatest sources of self-confidence is what ‘people say to us’. You can provide verbal instruction that helps instill confidence in your staff, especially before they undertake a highly demanding and important event—a key investment pitch, a crucial presentation, a game-changing meeting. Many athletes talk about boosting their confidence by focusing on what they can achieve, rather than potential failure.

“Remind your staff that they have performed well in the past and, importantly, that they can perform well in the future.”

Remind your staff that they have performed well in the past and, importantly, that they can perform well in the future. Help them to dwell on past success and let this success penetrate their preparation for the upcoming performance. This not only boosts confidence, it also helps them to focus positively on success, rather than negatively, avoiding potential failure. In turn, you cannot underestimate the power of encouragement. Confidence is hugely changeable by the information you are provided or that you provide to your staff. Remind them of poor performances, and they will go into new situations with low confidence, and as a result,  failure is likely. Sport psychology research shows that even if people perform well (objectively) just telling them they did poorly is enough to ruin subsequent performances. So encourage them, remind them how good they are, and specifically, get them to take previous success into new situations.

Lastly, lead by example. Confidence is about thoughts and behavior. Get your staff to think confidently not only by encouraging them, but by showing them what confidence looks like. Act confidently around them at all times—you are a role model—and call up in your mind those people who you rely on as role models. Don Shula, former NFL cornerback and coach, famously said, “My responsibility is leadership, and the minute I get negative, that is going to have an influence on my team.” He recognized that the attitude of the leader rubs off onto the athletes—just as your attitude as a leader rubs off on your staff.

Confidence is contagious—absorb it from and transmit it to those around you. The more you act confidently, the more they act confidently. Acting confidently contributes to feeling and thinking confidently. In doing so, both you and your staff will operate to the best of their abilities and your organization will flourish.

Dr. Martin Turner, is co-author, along with Dr. Jamie Barker, of the book What Business Can Learn From Sport Psychology.