Fake it til you Make It: How to Realize the Benefits of Conveying Confidence

Power stances. Lucky socks. Pep talks in the bathroom mirror. Most of us probably have a few little tricks we try to boost how confident we feel, especially in a moment where it feels critical. (As a musical theater aficionado, humming a few bars of The Sound of Music’s “I Have Confidence” is a personal favorite.)

There are good reasons we all dedicate time and emotional energy to these little confidence-boosting tricks. One is that it feels better to feel confident, but there’s also an important, practical reason to boost confidence: when other people see us as confident, they’re also more likely to see us as competent. And research shows that when someone forms that impression, it sticks – even when you’re not actually performing at your best.

So self-confidence isn’t just nice to have, it’s a need to have for professional success. But here’s something critical we discovered in a recent study:

You don’t need to feel confident to look confident.

That means you can reap many of the benefits of beingĀ  perceived as self-confident without having to necessarily feel the confidence first.

So if you’re coaching leaders to appear confident, and you’re not starting from within… where do you start? That’s where the new behavioral research we conducted comes into play. When we studied LEA 360TM data from more than 4,000 leaders, a specific behavior profile emerged for leaders who are perceived as confident by observers. Understanding this profile will help you guide leaders in emphasizing the behaviors that will help them look confident to others (even if they’re not quite feeling it within).

A few of the highlights: they show lower deference to authority; they’re more strategic; they’re highly persuasive. However, there are variations by gender and generation. So when you’re coaching, you can focus on these key behaviors, but be conscious of the demographic nuances, too.

For an overview of the study results and 3 tips for coaching leaders to convey more confidence, download MRG’s Coaching Crib Sheet: Coach for Confidence.


About the author

Lucy is the Head of Marketing at MRG. She's a passionate people person who talks with her hands even when she's on the phone. She will not rest until everyone on earth has taken their IDI.

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