Dispelling 4 myths about confidence

by | Sep 10, 2020 | Leadership

Confidence has a bad press. It’s often dismissed as not being a serious contender in what helps or hinders high-achievers from unleashing their leadership potential.

In this post, I share a sneak-peek from the book I’m writing, “Unleash your leadership!”, due for publication later this year, where I dispel 4 myths about confidence.

Myth 1 : You either have confidence or you don’t.

Certainly, some people are more confident than others. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t become confident. Neuroscience tells us that only 25 – 50% of how confident we are is genetic which means that up to 75% is up for grabs!

Myth 2 : Lack of confidence = lack of competence.

It’s not that competence isn’t important, but without confidence, competence isn’t enough. One of the most consistent findings in psychology is that there is virtually zero correlation between confidence and competence : there is very little overlap in how good people are at something and how confident they are.

In fact, the most confident people are sometimes the least competent because they don’t know what they don’t know. There’s a fascinating example of this in a chap called Ferdinand Waldo Demara, also known as The Great Impostor, who in the 1940s and 50s masqueraded as a surgeon, professor and prison warden. He even amputated a man’s leg!

Myth 3 : It’s simples.

Have you ever talked to someone about your lack of confidence and they’ve said something along the lines of, “You’re great. You just need to have confidence in yourself.”

If it was as simple as that, I’m sure you’d have nailed confidence a long time ago! Building our confidence involves understanding and shifting long-held behavioural patterns through managing our mind, harnessing our body and taking courage to act in service of what’s important to us.

We all have the capacity to do this, but it requires attention and practice.

Myth 4 : It’s just a girl thing.

I have worked with plenty of men who suffer from self-doubt. Research has found that whilst 50% of women admit to experiencing self-doubt in their performance and careers, 30% of men do too. I emphasise “admit” – men are less likely to admit vulnerability.  

However, having spent alot of time working with women in the past year, I would say confidence becomes a bigger issue for women working in male-dominated environments like finance, tech, engineering and professional services.

What do you think? Drop me a line at alison@alisonreid.co.uk.

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Alison Reid is an experienced executive coach who helps senior managers and directors lead with confidence and step-change their influence and impact. She works with them 1-1, empowering them to focus on what matters, communicate with impact and stay calm under pressure so they can lead themselves and others to great results. She's the author of Unleash Your Leadership : How to Worry Less and Achieve More. Download an extract or buy the book.

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