Confidence: What it is, how to get it, and how to keep it

What is your confidence level? In answering this question, what are the factors you would consider? How willing you are to put yourself out there? To go for what you want? To lead others? One of the couple of definitions belonging to confidence is “the state of feeling certain about the truth of something,” so judging your own level by these considerations makes sense.

The confidence of people, and especially of CEOs, is of great interest. There’s a reason you see so many surveys and reports bearing the title of “CEO (fill in the blank) Confidence.” From the economy to market trends, others are interested in your level of confidence—your ‘certainness’—in the truth of such things.

But, confidence isn’t just how you feel about something or someone else. Why do you think people are interested in your confidence level about an item? It’s because your confidence gives them confidence.  This brings us to the second definition, which says that confidence “is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.”

You can see why this is important for a CEO or anyone who is in a leadership role. Confidence gives you what you need to fill the position to the best of your ability, while providing your people and those who look to you the confidence they need to make decisions and continue to trust in you as their leader. So, let’s take a look at a few ways you can encourage confidence and keep it going:

  • Get and stay organized. Confidence comes from knowing what is expected of you and when it is expected. A confidently organized person is also much easier to trust and follow; after all, how many times have you heard someone say, “Let’s follow the person who never seems to know what’s going on”?

  • Educate yourself. You will never know everything, no matter your position. Be open to learning something new every day. Go after knowledge with a hunger. As Confucius once said, “Education breeds confidence.”

  • Communicate. It’s a two-way street. When you listen to others, you gather information, are open to learning, and develop the confidence that comes with understanding. On the flip side, communicating clearly with others imparts your wisdom and establishes you as a knowledgeable expert or SME, which builds the confidence others have in you.

  • Say what you are going to do, and then do it. Setting an example for others builds character. Good character builds confidence. And, when others know they can trust you to do as you preach and live up to your word, they’ll have even more confidence in you.

  • Do what’s right and stick to it. Have a backbone. Know what you stand for and stand by it. Always doing the right thing may not be the most popular path, but those who matter will come to have more confidence in you for doing so.

Remember that confidence doesn’t mean cocky. Confidence is developed with time and is based on real effort, and tried and true performance. It’s something earned in yourself and in others. So, once you have it, you must keep up the effort to ensure it’s not lost.