The Keys to Manager Confidence “ ”

The Keys to
Manager Confidence
White Paper
organization’s ability
“ An
to learn, and translate
that learning into action
rapidly, is the ultimate
competitive advantage.
– Jack Welch
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Executive Summary.........................................................................................................................1
The Roots of Your Confidence.........................................................................................................3
When There Isn’t Confidence In a Manager.....................................................................................3
Workers Want a Leader They Can Believe In...................................................................................4
Confident Individuals Lead the Way................................................................................................5
Building Trust Feeds Confidence.....................................................................................................6
Traits of Confident Managers..........................................................................................................7
Fight for Your Confidence...............................................................................................................8
Quick Confidence Check................................................................................................................9
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Executive Summary
What you will discover in this white paper are the key drivers to personal assurance that grow and sustain an
individual’s professional confidence as a manager. Confident managers are more highly respected and often excel
further in their field than less confident managers. By educating yourself on ways to boost self-confidence and
how a confident management style can lead to a more profitable and efficient team, you will walk away with a
baseline of tools necessary to advance through the leadership ranks and/or make your general day-to-day life as a
manager more fulfilling.
First we explore the roots of truly confident people and how they became that way. Then we explain all the
detractors that can diminish confidence and how to avoid or correct them. Next we outline all the ways a
professional team will suffer under the leadership of an insecure manager. This continues into deeper research on
why employees look to a confident manager and how their professional attachments are formed. We continue
to detail the traits and tenets paramount to being a confident manager. From there we explore the connection
between building trust and confidence where you will have the opportunity to test your own self-confidence
with a short confidence check up; thereby self-identifying your own confidence level, areas you may want to
improve, and you will be awarded with a tool to help in your journey.
By the end of this consolidated research document, you should not only be able to self-identify your confidence
level and lacking areas, but ways your team may be evaluating you based on the confident or unconfident
mannerisms and management style you have been projecting to them. Armed with the knowledge of how to
build, sustain and utilize self-confidence as a manager, you will be able to move forward to undertake greater
responsibilities – more confident than ever in your leadership abilities and how your confidence contributes to
your career projection.
The Keys to Manager Confidence
is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems
“ Leadership
is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence
that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
– Colin Powell
To compete in the workplace as a manager today you must have two qualities above all else: confidence and
drive. Managerial confidence is often based on the ability to make decisions or offer solutions when it should
be based on drawing solutions out of others.1 But the fact is, many managers are not as confident as they want
to be or should be. To gain the respect of employees, managers must be able to think independently, collaborate
constructively, solve problems and propose realistic solutions. These tenets, above all others, formulate a
confident and therefore successful manager in any field.
As a worker moves up through management positions, more complex and higher-value tasks are put upon them.
This can often cause anxiety or distress when the new manager does not feel fully prepared for this role. Or, if a
worker has been in the role for a long time they may be fearful of failure. To be successful in management, it is
important to reframe how we add value from that of an individual player to that of a coach, catalyst, facilitator,
broker and thought leader.
As a manager you are now the face of a team. A key metric to
management is driven by confidence levels. You rise and fall by
how well your team performs based upon your leadership—and
to lead well, you must have confidence in yourself. The best
teams perform better if they have confidence in their manager.
This confidence is stronger when it is earned amicably. But
beware—lack of confidence or over confidence can lead to costly
errors. In order to muster up that stellar confidence we must first
explore where it might stem from.
“ The ability to intentionally
and predictably achieve
a successful outcome at
will…or repeatedly…is a
key contributor to build
and sustain confidence.
– Jeff Michaels
LinkedIn Better Managers
Group Member
The Keys to Manager Confidence
The Roots of Your Confidence
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.
can be done without hope and confidence.
– Helen Keller
The truth is, your professional life will often mirror your personal life. So the question becomes, “How does
personal confidence play into professional achievement?” Confidence has to do with your inner perception of
your ability to fulfill a particular job or role in society. Therefore, self-confidence is influenced by the world
around us and how we see ourselves fitting into the roles others place upon us. This includes our roles within
family, community, religion and at work. And let’s not forget the roles society places upon us in the media. Your
self-confidence may be based upon the universal perception that if you’re “too short” you can’t be taken seriously
at work or if you’re “too quiet” you don’t have any valuable opinions to share when given the opportunity.
But remember, “Self-confidence doesn’t exist in a vacuum,” says psychologist and founder of Compass Point
Consulting, Suzanne Roff, Ph.D. She believes confidence is largely built through our relationship with the world.
Your confidence as a manager really starts with your confidence as a person living with the demands of society,
your family and your self-perception of how you currently fill your roles in all of these pieces of your life.2
Having the internal sense that one’s actions impact the outside world is a large part of confidence – and in this
regard, it’s a two-way street. In many aspects, how the world around you perceives you is just as important as
how you see yourself. And how you perceive yourself directly affects how well you can lead your team. When
you as the manager are lacking confidence, big problems can arise.
When There Isn’t Confidence In a Manager
So what happens to a team when they lose confidence in their manager or never had it to begin with? Perhaps
there have been multiple situations where the team was instructed to go one way and it went badly or they
felt uncertain of their direction because their manager was unclear. Losing confidence in a manager is as
detrimental to a team as mass layoffs or the loss of a key team member. When confidence in a manager is lost,
several things can occur including loss of key employees, decline in morale and productivity, damage to the
company’s reputation and reduced investor confidence. All of these outcomes not only interfere with the team’s
performance and output, but can dramatically reduce an organization’s ability to rebound.
Successful operations need confidence in several areas:3
• People need to have confidence in their manager
• Managers needs to have confidence in their people
• Everyone needs to have self-confidence and confidence in the team’s ability to succeed
There are risks for managers who does not garner the confidence of their team. Without these key drivers,
teams start to unravel. This is why confidence in a manager is so critical. Employees need leadership they can
stand behind.
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Ways to Build Confidence – Remain on TOPPS
TRUST — Build TRUST through sharing information, frequent communication, etc.
OBJECTIVE — Get buy-in for one overriding and inspiring business OBJECTIVE
PLAN — Create a PLAN with input from the organization
PEOPLE — Ensure that the right PEOPLE are in the right roles
SUCCESS — Achieve early SUCCESS that inspires further performance
Workers Want a Leader They Can Believe In
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.
If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
– Dale Carnegie
Interestingly, professionalism (86%), high-energy (78%) and confidence (61%) are the top three traits employers
say they are looking for in new hires.4 Over the past few years the workplace has become one of pure survival.
When the economic climate is constantly negative and lay offs are rampant, employees want company leaders to
offer confidence, communication and a sense that the future ahead is bright. Workers at every level need to feel
that their professional fate and livelihood are in good hands.
As confident managers, we want to constantly offer solutions. Two things signal to employees they are under
confident leadership:
1.They look for a manager who proposes solutions under
pressure. If the manager gives in to pressure, the team
quickly follows suit.
2.They look to a manager who senses unrest and reestablishes a feeling of community. When the mood
is lighter everyone breathes easier, works more
productively and refocuses on the goals of the business.
But the world is too complex and fast changing for any one
person to keep up. It’s much easier to base our confidence in
the knowledge that by asking the right questions and leaning
on the right resources you can “manage” your team in the right
direction. This means asking questions about what others think,
what they see as options for dealing with a problem, the pros
“ The bottom line is that
you should reframe
your role from that of
an individual contributor
(thinker) to that of
someone who fosters
smart thinking in others
by continuously asking
them what they think.5
The Keys to Manager Confidence
and cons of their preferred option and what steps they think need to be taken to implement a solution.5 When
you engage others, the value of your leadership grows infinitely. They feel like part of the solution, feel valued
and become responsible for making sure the right outcome actually happens.
However, this is often counter-intuitive to how many managers function, requiring a notable switch from
being a ‘solution creator’ to a ‘question asker’. This is tough because managers are inherent decision-makers. By
becoming better listeners than talkers, confident managers have a better perspective on the situation and offer or
choose more well-rounded solutions when the time comes.
And remember, as one win follows another, the success is contagious and confidence grows. Set yourself up for
success by leaning on the right resources.
Confident Individuals Lead the Way
A successful person is one who can lay a firm
foundation with the bricks that others throw at him or her.
– David Brinkley
Managers who lead with confidence find themselves farther along than managers who are less confident. As
individuals, having well-founded confidence brings limitless benefits.
Confident Individuals …
…learn from setbacks and disappointments and turn those
experiences into learning opportunities for growth.
…are able to identify what was learned from each negative
situation to ensure they do not repeat the actions that
caused them.
…develop strong thinking skills. This enables them to be
quick on their feet. They will respond with ease to their
team, upper-management and customers who voice
…express ideas fluently and in a way that holds the
attention of those listening.
…stay current and keep informed of trends affecting their
workload. Being able to link knowledge with planning
and action gives them the confidence needed to be the
manager they envision.
“ Every little ‘pat on the
back’ from supervisors
helps build confidence.
Knowing this, I try to give
these pats as frequently as
I can. When the crew has
confidence, they have better
performance and results and
my boss congratulates me.
– Eric Corneilson
LinkedIn Better Managers
Group Member
…acknowledge their own abilities and experience and don’t
undervalue them.
…are more positive. Confidence focuses thoughts on positive situations and pleasant experiences in life
which goes a long way to projecting stability.
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Building Trust Feeds Confidence
on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on
“ Confidence...thrives
faithful protection and on unselfish performance. Without them it cannot live.
– Franklin D. Roosevelt
Confidence for managers is determined by their level of perceived capability to achieve and sustain high
performance for both the business and the teams they lead. A manager’s knowledge, skills and success record
are the key criteria people use to determine their level of confidence in this person, regardless of their personal
comfort or perceived character of the leader/manager. In other words, our confidence in a manager is based on
how well they perform in the eyes of their team. If your team trusts you and follows you willingly, feeling like
they are getting strong direction and frequent help, then you’ll confidently continue forward. Research shows
that if your team does not follow you, then your confidence dwindles and problems arise among the ranks.
By contrast, trust is determined by whether a manager consistently demonstrates actions that contribute to
your own and others’ well-being.6 Developing trust involves ethically-based, values-grounded behavior which
is selfless. What we perceive as the nature of a manager’s personality roots our belief in them at a human level.
And when you trust and respect someone you’re more likely to follow them. Therefore, personal capabilities
determine our level of confidence. To optimize performance, managers need to be both capable and trustworthy.
When this combination occurs, organizations survive the hard times and excel in the good.
The significance of leadership trust cannot be under-emphasized since we live in an era in which organizations
and leaders are frequently distrusted. “A recent survey reported in listed ‘building trust among
employees and customers’ as the attribute current executives most need to develop (by 76% of all respondents);
and being trustworthy as a quality that leaders of their organization need to demonstrate right now to move
their organization forward in today’s difficult business environment (by 60% of all respondents).”6
When managers are truly trusted, stakeholder groups (employees, customers, investors, suppliers and others)
become inspired and they reward the organization with long-term commitment and heightened performance.
Building strong cultures from both top-down and bottom-up are excellent ways to increase trust in shorter
periods of time than is likely to occur otherwise.6 In fact, successful managers must demonstrate certain skills
to get their management positions including experience, tenure, knowledge, trust/respect, ideas and be actionoriented. By honing these traits, managers may be more trusted and influential with their own team and
throughout their organization.
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Traits of Confident Managers
“ Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence. ”
–Vince Lombardi
For managers, maintaining a presence of confidence gives employees security.
Primary Traits of Confident Managers Include:7
• Upbeat body language
• Direct and positive language
• Accepting compliments
• Avoiding self-promotion in a boastful manner
• Staying positive
• Using positive actions
• Seeing the opportunities in every situation
Take a look at these traits at a deeper level.
Some tools to project confidence include, making direct eye contact, good posture, positive facial expressions
and a professional appearance. All of these tell others you are someone who is composed, secure and trustworthy.
Body language is a powerful way to communicate confidence. In fact your body language is often the best
indicator and reflection of your own self-confidence in your management ability beyond anything you could say.
Actions speak louder than words.
Words, of course, still matter. The next trait confident managers must use is direct and positive language. Their
words should reinforce their confident image. When you meet someone new, whether in person or over the
phone, always give your name. Leading with a personal introduction underscores the feeling that you respect
yourself, and that others should pay attention to what you have to say.7
Insecure people shy away from compliments from others, therefore accept praise graciously. Be appreciative and
always give due credit to your team. Giving praise breeds confidence and the ability to receive accolades is a sign
of solid self-esteem. Show genuine appreciation for a gift or compliment. This signals to the world that you agree
your accomplishments should be valued and so should you.
Avoid self-promotion. The truth is if you are truly secure, bragging won’t be needed to garner external approval.
True confidence stems from being internally secure. People who boast are calling attention to themselves because
they don’t feel worthy of respect. Instead, share your accomplishments in conjunction with ways others helped
you along the way.
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Maintain a positive tone in conversation and avoid unloading
your problems and stresses onto others. Staying positive and
speaking only of constructive ways to fix problems moves your
team away from negative thinking and keeps the mood light.
When you are tempted to criticize or complain, find a way to
turn your thoughts in a positive direction before you speak.7
Positive Walk
Counter doubt and fear with positive action and self-talk. You
would not be human if you did not doubt yourself from time to
time, but dwelling on difficulties only makes them seem bigger
and harder than they really are. And this is an example your
team will follow. The best antidote for doubt is to increase your
level of productive activity. Don’t sit around over-analyzing the
situation, get up and act. By working on constructive activities
your mind will be consumed with solutions instead of problems.
Your team will take notice and model the behavior.
“ I maintain confidence by
constantly striving to do
things as best as I can. I
find the harder I work to
do things the way they
are supposed to be done
the better off everyone is.
Employees try to get to
the bar that is set for
them, so set it high!
– Scott Major
LinkedIn Better Managers
Group Member
Finally, confident managers see everything as an opportunity.
In life you can adjust your attitude to any circumstance. That is not to say everyone can produce their intended
result every time, but it is an indicator that it may be time to adjust course. It is not a reflection of your value as
a person, so don’t take it personally or let it rattle your self-esteem.7 And remember, confidence is contagious so
half the battle is realizing you are a confident manager and letting that attitude shine through.
Fight for Your Confidence
With realization of one’s own potential and
self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.
– The Dalai Lama
Every day, situations arise that chip away at your confidence—from sloppy performances by employees you
recently coached or a deflating review from your supervisor. The best way to maintain your confidence when life
gets in the way is summed up in three key points:
2. Restore yourself
3. Take action
Realize that not every bad situation is under your control. Deal with it and then let it go and move on.
Self-confident people allow these experiences to help them reshape how they start off tomorrow.
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Quick Confidence Check
Answer the questions below honestly. After evaluating your own performance, take stock in all the ways
your team and environment are affecting your confidence. Then take action to correct the problem areas.
Restore your self-confidence by asking these questions (Rate yourself 1-5; 1 low confidence – 5 high
Do I find myself in a state of being reluctant or uneasy when making
timely decisions and prefer instead to delay decision-making?
2 3 4 5
2. D
o I feel that from my direct manager’s viewpoint, and maybe some
team members, I no longer make the right decisions due to my lack
of confidence and therefore I am ineffective in my role?
2 3 4 5
3. I s coming to work more of a chore than an opportunity to use my
talent in a meaningful way to make a positive impact for the benefit
of my organization as a whole?
1 2 3 4 5
Level 1
If you scored 3-7 points on the quiz you are in a state of unrest. Your self-confidence is wavering and needs some upkeep.
Level 2
If you scored 8-12 points on the quiz you are usually confident but likely have encountered an unusual situation that is
outside your normal comfort zone. This is an opportunity for you to turn it into a growth experience.
Level 3
If you scored 12-15 points you are a highly self-confident manager, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!
Maintaining this is your first order task each day.
Re-take this quiz in 10 days to do a quick pulse check. Keep this document and date it each time you
take it to see the progress for yourself. Yes, “mile-stoning” is another trick to reinforce confidence.
The Keys to Manager Confidence
Review below the reasons a manager’s confidence waivers to find out where you can improve and get back to
your confident self.
Signs a manager isn’t confident:8
…want to be on friendly terms with everyone on their team, so they delay or avoid painful decisions
…place themselves under extreme pressure—afraid to ask for help
…are reluctant to delegate tasks/projects to other team members, as this can be seen as a sign of weakness or
…do not think they have the required knowledge and skills to develop a strong team and to get early buy-in
from others on the team. (Research suggests that this can reflect gender differences when applying for
roles, with women being more focused on skills they do not have, rather than those they have already.
The reverse is true for male managers or directors.)
…become consumed with fire-fighting and are too focused on immediate decision-making, unable to plan
and develop a longer-term vision for the team
…feel incapable of motivating staff to achieve higher goals/targets
…are unwilling to deal with challenging behavior such as missed deadlines or team conflict
Knowing the ways your self-confidence gets dismantled enables you take proactive steps to maintain, not only
your confidence, but your ability to lead decisively.
It’s better to be boldly decisive and risk being
wrong than to agonize at length and be right too late.
– Marilyn Moats Kennedy
Learn more about building
confidence as a manager by
reading the Better Managers Blog at
or by visiting
for current and fresh articles on
trending topics that help make
good managers better.
Revenue • Processes • People
1“The Confident Manager”
by Mitch McCrimmon (24 Jan 2007)
2“Where Does Confidence Come From?”
by Alice G Walton (10 Jun 2011)
3“Building Confidence—The Number 1 Challenge for New Leaders”
by Dr. Robert Karlsberg and Dr. Jane Adler
4“Top Five Personality Traits Employers Hire Most”
by Meghan Casserly (4 Oct 2012)
5“The Value of Confidence”
by Elizabeth Cooney (8 Nov 2009)
6“Do You Have Both Trust and Confidence In Your Leader/Manager?”
by Dr. Michael O’Connor (4 Nov 2009)
7“7 Traits of Highly Confident People”
by Jonathan Wells
8“Empowering Managers to Confident and Effective Leadership”
by Veronice Broomes (28 June 2010)
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