How to Lead with Confidence

If you have ever been put in any position of authority, you already know the cold, hard truth about leadership. It’s all about confidence. In fact, how to lead with confidence is one of the hottest topics in any leadership training.

Yet the advice provided is not always easy to implement and is often very generic. I am sure you heard some of it before: “Fake it till you make it! Control your anxiety! Relax! Be confident!”

Yea, we get it! But HOW!?

Today, I am going to show you three things you can start doing right away to gain confidence as a leader. Here is how it works.


Whether you are leading a large team or have just volunteered to manage a small project, people will look up to you for direction and judge you on your qualities. To motivate and inspire them you need to come across as confident in your abilities.

This confidence has to come from somewhere. Theory doesn’t help much here. When it comes to leadership, even the best theory is hard to put into practice, so to learn confidence we need to get practical right away.

Luckily, confidence is a skill. And like most skills, it can be learned by doing.

So, here are three things for you to start doing right away to start building your leadership confidence:

  1. Work on your presentation.
  2. Get organized.
  3. Complement your knowledge in your field.

Let’s address them one by one.

Confidence is a skill. And like most skills, it can be learned by doing.

1. Work on Your Presentation

We live in the visual and auditory world and how you come across to your team MATTERS. This means that the way you dress, the way you speak and the way you behave will either increase or decrease your credibility as a leader.

Now, this credibility is important. The more your people see you as someone they want to follow, the better they will react to you. And the moment people react to you better, your confidence will subconsciously increase.

It will increase because you will feel better. Just think back to an event in your life where you were sharply dressed and were aware of it. Remember how this made you feel and how others reacted to you? Strong presentation can help you feel more confident and that is an asset you don’t want to deprive yourself of.

Now strong presentation is more than just appearance, so let’s break it down into three areas:

  1. DRESS
    Whatever field you are in, there is probably some type of wear that is considered appropriate. In a business environment it may be a suit, while in an exercise studio it may be workout gear. Even casual attire has various levels of elegance.

    Take an hour to go through your closet and get critical. For each piece of clothing that you wear as a leader, ask yourself how appropriate it is to your environment. You want to look sharp, so be critical. Ask yourself how appropriate each piece is to your environment, how it looks on you and what condition it is in.

    Then, within your budget, replace what needs replacing. Make sure you look the part of a leader.
    Good leaders stand straight, maintain eye contact, relax their shoulders, keep their chins up and don’t fidget. They don’t rush, unless there is an emergency. They control their nervousness with stretches and deep breaths. In the next week, pay a special attention to your body language.

    Is your body tense? Is your posture slouched? Do you have nervous movements? Do you look away when you speak to people? All this directly contributes to your confidence levels.

    After the week of observation is over, start working on your body language, beginning with your posture and eye contact. It will take a while to change your habits, but it will be worth it. If you need help in this area, be sure to seek books and videos on body language. It will be time well spent.
    Do you speak fast? Do you slur your words? Are you prone to constant “uhms” and “ahs”? Are you sure your people always understand your explanations?

    Train yourself to slow down when you speak. Take pauses. Take frequent deep breaths to help you control your speaking patters, if you have to. And always confirm with your team if they understand your direction. The audio book “The Sound of Your Voice” by Dr. Carol Fleming is an excellent tool in helping you communicate better.

Getting these three things under control will not instantly make you a better leader, but it will eliminate those things which prohibit you from becoming one. What’s more, they will have a positive effect on your own well-being, which in turn will increase your confidence.

2. Get Organized

As you work on your presentation, start looking at your daily routine as a leader. The more organized you are in your daily work, the more confident you will feel about what you are doing. This is because you will have a much better grasp on your responsibilities.

You will be able to remember more, find relevant information quicker, meet deadlines and timelines, schedule events, and not miss anything important. This level of control is not only necessary for good leadership, but it’s an incredible confidence boost. Just think of how great you would feel if you had everything under control.

So, how do you organize yourself? Let’s start with the basics:

  1. Keep a calendar and write all the important deadlines and events on it. Share it with your team.
  2. Always have a notebook or a device to take notes with you.
  3. Learn to take concise notes in form of lists. There are plenty of books out there on good note taking.
  4. Organize your desk and your work space. Do not accept a mess!
  5. Make a plan of action for each upcoming day and follow it as much as possible.

There are other ways of organizing yourself for best results and maximum confidence and we explain how to put all of them in action in our book How to Be a Leader. But if you just start with these 5, you will give yourself an advantage not only in productivity, but also in how you interact with your team.

Just being organized can inspire and motivate others, because everyone likes a leader who has it together. Your own personal benefit will be an increase in confidence.

3. Complement Your Knowledge in Your Field

If you lead a short term project, you may be able to get by on your management skills alone. But if you want to be a leader for longer than just a week, you must strive for more and more competence in your field.

Simply put, the more you know about the field you and your team are in, the better.

If you have ever been put in charge of a team of experts, or have been promoted from the ranks, you probably know what I am talking about already. Knowing less than your team, or simply not knowing enough, creates huge confidence problems. So, it is up to you to find a way to manage this issue.

And here, there are two solutions:

  1. Remember that you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. As a leader, it’s not your job to always have the answer. Your job is to find the right answer and implement it. So, if your level of knowledge is lacking, let your team help you lead. Ask for advice. Consult your Subject Mater Experts and put them in charge of projects. The final decisions will be up to you, but the information can come from your team.
  2. While you do the above, take it upon yourself to upgrade your knowledge. Aggressively go after courses, books and workshops. Your organization may have those already. If not, look outside, or ask your Subject Mater Experts to teach you. The more knowledge in your field you achieve, the more confidently you will lead.


These three proven ways will help you increase your confidence as a leader. We address them in much greater detail in our book How to Be a Leader where we give concrete how-to steps for putting them all into action.

In the book, we also teach more ways of creating confidence, earning respect and motivating your team, and learning how to make good decisions to minimize failure, so be sure to get your copy. In fact, one of the secrets of how to lead with confidence is to get more leadership training. The more practical that training is – the better.

Another way to receive practical training is to subscribe to our free newsletter. It has tips and lesson on how to lead with confidence and motivate and inspire your team, while gaining respect and results that will help you get noticed.

Have more tips on how to lead with confidence? Let us know in the comments below!

Greg Bobkiewicz
Gregory Bobkiewicz is a leadership instructor and coach in the Canadian Armed Forces and the head honcho of Online Leadership Network. His military career has taken him all over the world and exposed him to many leadership challenges in demanding circumstances. He shares his passion for leadership with all new and aspiring leaders.


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