Guest Blog: Train yourself to be a confident leader

We are excited to welcome leadership coach, Kathy Archer, to the Volunteer Alberta blog! This is the second of a three-part series on leadership in the nonprofit sector. Read last week’s blog Confident Leaders Stand Out. Do You?

Having confidence helps us stay calm and composed in challenging situations.

It’s true, having self-assuredness benefits you as a leader. It helps you achieve results. Knowing that, however, doesn’t do any good when your knees are knocking or your stomach is churning. In those moments, you can’t just will confidence upon yourself. Or can you?

Leadership can be a tough gig. At any moment, you can be thrust into an intimidating situation or handed a seemingly overwhelming task. Lack of knowledge, being short on skills, or simply lacking the confidence to tackle situations head on can cause many leaders to pull back and play small.

When you are insecure, it often means you don’t hold others accountable. Your uncertainty makes you wishy-washy and indecisive. The truth is, unconfident leaders don’t do the tough work required of being a truly outstanding leader.

What can you do to develop your leadership confidence? Here are two daily habits you can adopt to grow your leadership confidence.

2 habits to practice daily in order to grow your leadership confidence

1) Assume the position!

Your body posture plays a key role in your confidence levels. Research has shown that not only does body posture speak to others, it also it communicates to you too!

When you slouch, the world sees indifference or inability. Likewise, folding in tells your body: “I’m not very important in this situation. I don’t know anything. I’m scared. I’m embarrassed”.

When you instead sit upright, head up and shoulders back, the message to yourself is more about feeling in control, feeling knowledgeable, and being capable. This change in your body results in a change in your demeanour which impacts how you are perceived by others.

One tool to immediately increase your confidence is power posing.

This pose is not to intimidate others. Instead, strike this stance in private. Standing in the superwoman position, taking up as much space as you can, releases chemicals in your body that boost how you feel and up your level of confidence.

Get in the habit of striking a superwoman position before any task you perceive may be threatening, challenging, or demanding. Try expansive body postures such as putting your hands on your hips, standing up and stretching tall, or leaning back and putting your feet on your desk to send the confidence chemicals to your brain.

Habit to Build: Shut your door or head to the bathroom to assume the superwoman position for 2 minutes a day.

2) Lean into the discomfort!


The best way to develop confidence is to practice courage. Courage and confidence go hand in hand.

We often lack confidence because we lack the courage to try anything different, enter into precarious situations, or to wrestle with arduous tasks. We take the easy way out far too often.

Make a commitment at the beginning of the day to purposefully do at least one thing that takes you outside of your comfort zone.

Habit to Build: Record your results daily. What did you learn by leaning into the discomfort? Write down your new commitment for the coming day. You will soon have a running list of uncomfortable things you did that you didn’t die from!

Increase your confidence one day at a time

Purposefully working on increasing your confidence puts you ahead of the crowd. Cultivate new habits that encourage an increase in your confidence levels. Push yourself to do something uncomfortable daily and practice the power position. It won’t be long before you are doing things you were once scared to even consider.

Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership and find balance in life. She mentors women as they rediscover their purpose, passion, and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses, and the challenges of family life. In her signature program Women with Grit: Leading with Courage & Confidence, Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive change in their lives.

(Photo credit Mike Ngo)