Developing Confident Leaders: 4 Quick Win Strategies

On my way back from a recent training event I was running in Europe, I was delayed in an airport due to our wonderful UK weather. 

As usual, I caught up on some of the best leadership blogs, posts and podcasts. 

Something caught my eye, which related to a group of leaders I had just been working with. 

It was a comment by a writer on Hbr who shared his opinion that “without confidence, there is no leadership”. 

I must agree. 

Self-confidence is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows. Trying to teach leadership without first building confidence is like building a house on a very rocky and unstable base. 

It may have a beautiful coat of paint and Laura Ashley curtains, but it is ultimately shaky at best. 

So how can you develop confident leaders in your organisation? 

As growing leaders and heads of business ourselves we can probably relate to past experiences as defining moments or examples when we just ‘nailed’ it. 

All great stories we reflect on when we have the occasional wobble. 

However, what if you are new in an organisation, perhaps managing a team you have never met before in a country you have just moved to? 

Oh, and this is your first ‘real’ leadership role? 

Everything is lining up but unfortunately not in the most positive way. Your back catalogue of positive boosting leadership events is shallow at best. 

This is not an uncommon problem we come across at Zestfor, as more and more organisations increase their Millennial quota of managers. 

Therefore, today I want to share some winning strategies that consistently work. 


Look The Part 



I was reading a post about leadership lessons from the Queen last week and in the top spot was that appearance matters. 

It’s certainly worked for H.R.H. and is a time-tested strategy. It is hard to fathom the impact of a new suit, hairstyle or make-up. It seems so minor and yet sends multiple signals to our subconscious mind about who we are in our new role; more on this in a future post. 

Looking the part is more than what we are wearing – I would include body posture here too.  

I strongly suggest watching this TED talk by Amy Cuddy.

Body language affects how others see us, but it may also change how we look at ourselves. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy argues that “power posing” – standing in a posture of confidence, even when we don’t feel confident – can boost feelings of confidence and might have an impact on our chances for success. 


Develop Your Self Awareness 

Not the easiest thing to do and it’s critical if you truly want to become an outstanding leader.  

This might involve coaching or peer support or Strength finding or Insights profiling. 

If you are in a leadership position, there is a reason for it.  You will be confident in certain areas which you can map across to your confidence bank as you build and develop your other leadership strengths. 


Leaders Are Always Learning 



Confidence comes from knowing our ‘stuff’ and great leaders are always learning. As a first step, your current manager will have discussed your development, so ensure you are on any development programme that is going to help you.  

Then, of course, take a lesson from Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who are both avid readers and start reading consistently.

As I was preparing to write this post I jumped onto Amazon and used a specific filter I like: average customer reviews. 

If you are struggling on what to read look at the books with the most 5- and 4-star reviews. The titles and authors that stand out are worth popping into your basket. 


Say Yes 

Currently, there is a swell of opinion that it is critical to say no as an entrepreneur or leader. 

A good idea in many scenarios, but this is NOT valid if you are a leader who wants to build their confidence. 

Time to say yes. 

Shonda Rhimes is the American television producer, film writer, and author, known for being the mastermind behind Grey’s Anatomy, one of the longest running TV series in the United States – no mean feat by the way.  

She wrote a bestselling book on the power of saying yes, and it’s many benefits aligned to confidence and building courage. 

It certainly worked for her. 



As many of us teach our children how critical it is to just ‘try’ something, it’s the same in our work life too. Everything we want is generally outside our comfort zone. Step through it and our sphere increases and so does our confidence. 



I eluded to the power of reading earlier, and I want to share something else here. I am sure you will have heard the famous statement that we are the sum of the books we read and the people we interact with. 

This is true when it comes to building our leadership confidence and muscle. Having a network or support group of peers is a healthy way to share common, real-world challenges. It will give you the knowledge that “I’m not the only one who feels this way.” 

When I first started Zestfor many years ago now, I was a member of a group coaching programme and boy, how it helped me learn and grow. 

It is easy to feel a lack of confidence in isolation. However, when you share what is going on with someone else, it gives you a whole new perspective. 

Useful? I hope so! 


Until next time, 



Can We Help? 

Zestfor specialises in developing Training programmes and resources scientifically tailored for technical markets – including Pharmaceutical, IT, and Life Sciences.     

Our blend of in-classroom, online, and virtual live-stream delivery methods will engage and assure even the most introverted team members from the first meeting – whether face-to-face or virtually. To have a brief chat call us on 0845 548 0833. Alternatively, email our team here.