Is your insecurity showing?

“I thought I was ready, but had no idea what I was getting myself into.
What if I’m not really cut out for this?”

CompassNo matter how much experience you’ve had, it’s easy to doubt yourself and wonder if you’re “good enough” to get to the next level.

In working with many leaders over the years, I see their thought process as they contemplate ways to expand their impact and advance their careers.

Some are frustrated. They’re not moving fast enough into roles they think they deserve. Perhaps they have leadership blind spots.

(If you missed my Special Report on Overcoming Leadership Blind Spots, you can download a free copy here or below.)

They view their situation as something beyond their control.

“You have to know people at the top to get anywhere in this company.”
“I’ll just have to wait for my turn. I don’t want to rock the boat.”
“Nobody knows the real work I do.”

The reality is that, in many cases, you can be your own worst enemy. You might be sabotaging yourself with secret thoughts that threaten your confidence.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

“I don’t have the experience they expect to even be considered for the position.”
“I never finished my degree.”
“I don’t have a mentor or advocate.”

Self-confidence is one of the most important leadership attributes you can have. Without it, you risk jeopardizing your performance, and in some cases, ruining your own career.

Insecurity manifests itself in a variety of ways. Some people show up as fearful or anxious. They work in the shadows and draw little attention to themselves.

maskOther people may appear overly confident or egotistical.

But deep down there are serious insecurities they’re attempting to mask.

Here are four ways to build self-confidence in your leadership role:

1.  Note your strengths and best qualities.

If you need reminding, talk to family members or friends who are closest to you. By focusing on what you have instead of what you (think you) lack, you’ll create an image of yourself that is strong and capable.

Weaknesses or deficiencies will become less important. Bring whatever you have now to the table. Don’t worry about the rest.

2.  Experiment.

If you’ve been afraid to try something new or tackle a difficult project, consider it an “experiment.” You’ll take pressure off yourself to achieve perfection.

Instead view the situation as a learning opportunity. Be prepared to observe what is happening as you go through the experience. Anticipate setbacks.

Be willing to move yourself or your project in a different direction if needed. If it doesn’t work, it’s just an experiment. Keep trying.

3.  Help someone else.

Ultimately leadership is about service. This is a fundamental aspect of leadership that executives often miss. Instead they are overly concerned about how they are perceived. If they care more about their own image, they lose sight of what matters most–other people.

Keep your focus on those you serve–your team, your internal or external customers. Ask:

“What do they need now?”
“How can I be of help?”
“What action can I take today to make a bigger difference–to them?”

Shift the focus from yourself to others.

4.  Face your fear.

If there is one thing that you know is in your way, face it head on!

In my case, the one thing that was holding me back in my career and leadership role was my fear of public speaking. So many years ago I decided to begin working on that skill. I participated in Toastmasters International and other development programs for years to practice and build my confidence. Sometimes it was painful.

Confidence comes through practice and by surrounding yourself with other people who want to see you grow.

Now I speak professionally as part of my work.

Everything flows from your confidence as a leader. We all have insecurities. It’s natural for your confidence to waiver over time, especially as you grow and take on new challenges.

You are stronger and more capable than you realize. Your potential is much greater than you can imagine.

Step boldly into the new iteration of who you are becoming. You’ll be even better as a leader.

It’s good for yourself and those you serve.


In case you missed it…

print newsGet a copy of my latest print newsletter. It’s about how to overcome leadership blind spots.

Download a copy HERE.  

 (Feel free to share it with a friend or colleague who may benefit.)


You’ll gain insights to help you see what you might be missing.



 “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong.

The amount of work is the same.”

~Carlos Castaneda

What’s your best advice?

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a “speed mentoring” event for professional women sponsored by the local business journal.

Business woman shaking hands in meetingAs a mentor I was available to have five minute conversations with individual women who could ask questions about anything. Most asked specific questions about how to advance their business or career.

One woman asked me a wide open question: “What’s your best advice?”

I tried to clarify the context. “Best advice about what? Growing a business? Career success? Leadership? Something else?”

She said, “Just your best advice in general.” Hmmm. I had to think for a moment. I felt a little pressure. The clock was ticking.

I responded, “Know who you really are.

I explained that when you know who you really are, it makes decision-making a little easier in any context. You rely on your own values, beliefs and instincts.

You can play to your strengths and be more deliberate in guiding your path.

You can orient yourself more intentionally around the people, things or issues you care about.

  • Knowing who you really are helps you build courage. The courage to go for it — and the courage to say “No” when you need to.
  • Knowing who you really are helps you attract business that is right for you and deflect business that is not right for you.
  • Knowing who you really are makes you less susceptible to following a path that’s not the best for you.

Depending on the nature of your work or business, you may have lost sight of who you really are.

When I left my corporate career years ago to start my own business, I felt a little lost. My identity had been associated with the large organization I worked for and the leadership position I held.

To gain more clarity about myself, I met informally with a number of friends and acquaintances to understand how they saw me — not in any specific role, but as a person.

In retrospect, I was conducting my own 360 degree feedback exercise in person!

I asked them questions like, “What three words would you use to describe me?”

“What do you think I do well?” “What can I do better?”

I learned a lot through that exercise that helped me position myself in my business today.

I don’t think I would have given the same advice 10 or 20 years ago. Hopefully I’m a little wiser now.

As I reflect on my own experience and my work with other executives, I see that those who achieve what they really want are not afraid to be themselves.

They are themselves, unapologetically.

What’s more, they’re not only committed to doing work and living their lives congruently with who they are, they care about the person they’re becoming.

They focus as much on personal growth and learning as they do on growing their business or career.

They allow their experiences to shape them without losing themselves in the process.

But it’s not easy.

If you feel like you’re losing yourself, you’re not alone.

Business owners are especially vulnerable to losing themselves in the business.

One client confessed she found herself with a little down time the other day, and didn’t know what to do with herself. It was an unusual experience for her.

She’s conditioned to hit the ground running each morning as the pace of the day accelerates. She focuses on work well into the evening — and even loses sleep thinking about work.

3D white people. Businessman in a hamster wheelShe’s mastered the art of doing — without paying attention to priorities in her life. Running on the hamster wheel is exhausting. She said she needs time and space to “reconnect with herself.”

This is a common challenge for both men and women.

You are the only constant on your business, career or life journey, so know yourself well.

Reclaim yourself if you have to. If not, someone else might.

You’re not being self-centered. You are centering yourself in what really matters to you.

And you will be better for it.

You’ve come a long way.

What’s the “best advice” you can offer someone else — or yourself — today?

It’s worth thinking about.