Executive Coaching Connections, LLC

Confidence is taking action on things you don’t know if you can do.

-Katty Kay, Co-author of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance


Confidence is a crucial aspect of how our leadership is perceived – by others and ourselves.

When we’re confident, we tend to lead at our best. We appreciate our own skills and capabilities, and others are ready to follow our lead.

When we lack confidence, we may feel like an imposter. Doubting ourselves, we can appear tentative, and others may question our ability to lead.

While confidence is important for all leaders, according to McKinsey, it’s 1 of 3 key capabilities that help women leaders thrive (along with resilience and grit).

Confidence is easy to recognize, but it can be elusive to develop. Here are 2 parallel approaches to consider.


Strengthen the Core

Developing confidence is about strengthening one’s internal locus of control.

By soliciting feedback, working with coaches and mentors, and enhancing self-awareness, leaders can better appreciate their own capabilities.

A leader who wants to develop confidence might start by thinking about specific situations in which they currently ‘show up’ differently than they would like. They might ask themselves:

  • Where do I ‘show up’ with confidence now?
  • Where do I ‘step away’?
  • What’s similar and different about these situations?
  • What would it take for me to ‘show up’ differently in a situation where I’m not normally confident?


Communicate with Presence

One simple way to project greater confidence is through body language.

As described in Amy Cuddy’s 2012 TED Talk, “Your body language shapes who you are,” non-verbal behavior strongly influences perceptions – including how we perceive ourselves.

Cuddy studied how using “power poses” (envision the iconic ‘Wonder Woman’ pose, as one example) before entering evaluative situations like interviews and speeches, helped people project greater confidence. By using power poses for periods as short as 2 minutes, participants significantly altered their own levels of power and stress hormones, their risk tolerance, and how they were perceived by others. Cuddy found that by changing body language, “our bodies can change our minds.”

To experiment with this, pick a power pose and try it for 2 minutes. Notice how you feel before and after. Then, select an upcoming situation in which you would typically ‘step away.’ Use a power pose before you enter that situation. Take note of how confident you feel and how others respond to you. What’s the same? What’s different?

When you show up with confidence, you change perception. Help your leaders do the same, and you’ll create a team that others want to follow.



For more communication and leadership insights, follow ECC on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you or your leaders could use some help communicating with presence, explore ECC's Communication Solutions or call us to discuss your needs at +1.847.920.0190.