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Think about typical work situations where you meet as a new team, have a problem to solve, or significant changes to plan.

  • Do colleagues sometimes seem reserved, distant or lacking inertia?
  • Do they come up with multiple reasons not to try new things, before finding reasons to give it a go?
  • Do they seem to resent offers of support at times?

The reasons for such behaviours are not always obvious. Obstructiveness and resistance can come across as strong and deliberate blockers to improvement. So does it surprise you to learn that negative behaviours are often the result of low confidence?  They are common coping mechanisms until people learn new ways to acknowledge and address their underlying fears.

This blog provides some good practice tips about how to gain courage and practically improve self-confidence. It focusses primarily on business improvement situations in relation to leaders, team members and business coaches . However, the hints and tips apply equally to personal life, self-development at work or to leadership coaching.

So, why is it important to be confident?

The workplace is getting more complex and inter-connected, meaning it’s increasingly important to work closely and harmoniously with others. Whether you’re an influential leader, a team member or simply attending a work meeting, there’s an increasing need to contribute effectively. If you want to improve or grow your business, you will want to measure performance, influence others, collaborate and solve problems. This will require you to deliver difficult messages, present your ideas, and collaborate. It’s vital to do all these with real confidence.

The good news …

The good news is that people can be taught confidence and courage in a very practical way. All too often people don’t appreciate the degree of influence they can have on their own levels of confidence. They wait in a type of limbo, expecting confidence to suddenly land at their door. As facilitator, however, I’ve learnt that the best way I can help to build confidence is to focus people on altering their actions and behaviours.

 A case study

At a workshop I ran on Confidence and Courage for vulnerable people last year, one lady wanted to increase her body confidence. She explained why she had arrived early, so she could keep hidden from view. We talked as a group and she said she’d been waiting for a day when she would suddenly wake up feeling more confident.

We spoke about starting to make small changes to some of our actions. I advised practicing these until they became habits. This lady decided she would start by changing her shopping habits. It sounds simple, however it was a real lightbulb moment for her, once she knew there were practical steps and attitude she could adopt. Others similarly decided to say hello to neighbours, or to walk round the block a little more.

Being confident – top tips for coaches

  • A considerate approach to coaching is vital to improve confidence.
  • It can start with saying hello, it doesn’t have to be booking a cruise
  • It’s a good idea to agree ground rules, and to generate a safe ‘have a go’ environment, whether you are working one to one or with a group.
  • You’ll want to get a good balance of challenge and support, without singling people out against their will, or involving them in ‘silly games’
  • You’ll need to be flexible and adaptive to respond quickly to their level of openness
  • It may take several sessions to change new behaviours into new habits and confident mindsets.

Tools and interactive exercises

I’ve found a range of practical approaches very helpful for building confidence in leaders and teams including:

  • Role-modelling
  • Role playing
  • Paired discussion and presentation
  • Co-facilitating sessions
  • Visual interactive exercises
  • Creative process mapping and problem solving
  • Story-sharing, and empathy (we have all been there).

I have many examples of people reporting feeling stronger, happier and able to transfer their expertise more effectively to other, once they have improved their confidence. I hope you too have benefitted from this brief insight into building confidence.

Here are some links to further information about gaining confidence. Neel Burton MD writes in Psychology Today about improving self-confidence and the web-site Coaching Positive Performance is packed with hints and tips for coaches. There are also organisations in the East Midlands who support people to become more confident, such as Click Nottingham.

About Lose the Box

Maureen Whyman is the owner of Lose the Box, a Business Improvement consultancy based in the East Midlands. They are specialists in Continuous Improvement, Lean Thinking, cultural and behavioural HR, Transformation and Change Management. They support leaders, managers, teams and individuals with Business Improvement, via coaching, training and on-site workshops.

Lose the Box consultants blend simple science with creative facilitation, getting people to work much more effectively together. Their unique approach ensures skills are transferred, achieving sustained efficiencies and measurable benefits for their clients. See testimonials here.

We run 2 hour awareness sessions on building confidence. However, to noticeably strengthen confidence in individuals involves around four half-days with active commitment and practice by them between sessions.

Please contact us on 07824 660 120 or for a no-obligation discussion if you think we could be of assistance. 


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