There are many reasons you may lack confidence at work. Maybe you’re in a job that requires skills you don’t have, or you’re less experienced than anyone around you. Perhaps you’re new to the company and feel uneasy about your ability to succeed—or you feel threatened by colleagues; you fear losing your job; or you are simply too hard on yourself. Public humiliation and errors in judgment can also do the trick.
“The most common reason that employees lose confidence is very simply because of a bad relationship with their boss,” says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: “Overall, that insecurity will last as long as the relationship is strained.”
Negative peer relationships can also disrupt confidence, especially if there’s a pack mentality, she adds. “A group may feel threatened, for example, and try to undermine a worker. But since managers hold the cards to the employee’s future, the state of that rapport has the greatest impact on confidence levels.”
The good news is that you can manage behavior around you to improve relations, boosting both your self-esteem and your career, Taylor says. And you’ll definitely want to do that.
Why be more assertive? For one, you will be taken more seriously if your words and action have conviction, Taylor explains. “This will help you advance in your job and career.” However, there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, so be sure you don’t overcompensate by getting egotistical during moments of low self-esteem.
“Regulating and balancing feelings of confidence requires considerable self-awareness and knowledge,” says Dr. Katharine Brooks, director of Liberal Arts Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin and author of You Majored in What? Mapping Your Path From Chaos to Career. “In the same way that you don’t want to lack confidence, you also don’t want to be over-confident. Over-confidence can make you take on projects that are beyond your capability, and you might not be able to complete them.”
A healthy level of confidence, however, will make you more likely to engage in challenging but manageable projects, will help you get outside your comfort zone, and allow you to achieve new goals–all of which are valued characteristics of successful workers, Brooks says. “Employers will know that they can trust you with a project and that you are likely going to be good at motivating others as well.”
William Arruda, a personal branding expert and author of Ditch. Dare. Do! says confidence is important because it is the most attractive personal brand attribute. “When someone exudes confidence, we want to work with them. We are more likely to follow their lead. Confidence is the number one byproduct of the personal branding process, because in branding you uncover what makes you exceptional and use it to make career choices and deliver outstanding value.”
Confidence is also a key leadership quality, Taylor adds. If you are a decisive person with the credentials to back it up, you will be better positioned to advance in a company. “You’ll also be able to attract and retain a quality team, because they will trust you and feel you have matters under control. If you know your subject and stance, believe in yourself, and speak with poise and conviction, you will naturally exude confidence.” Conversely, uncertainty begets uncertainty. If you doubt yourself, so will others.
Deborah Brown-Volkman, a career coach and president of SurpassYourDreams.com, says that without confidence you won’t stand out, you won’t be assigned great projects, and you’re less likely to be recognized or get raises, bonuses, and promotions.
It turns out your confidence can benefit your employer, as well.
“More and more, employees are the face of the company,” Arruda says. “When employees are confident, they are better spokespeople for the company. With a lean workforce, companies need everyone engaged and inspired. Lack of confidence impedes full engagement.”
Taylor adds that employers benefit from confident workers because they are more positive contributors, more productive, good motivators and make great role models. “In addition, self-assured employees, particularly in customer-facing or sales positions, directly contribute to brand perception, beginning with the receptionist or administrative contact,” Taylor says. “Companies want to put their best foot forward in a macro sense, too, projecting leadership and confidence–and employees represent the parts to the whole.”
Good employees spend a lot of time being modest, says Alexandra Levit, the author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success. “Sometimes we actually feel that way, and sometimes we don’t but think that’s how we’re supposed to act so that other people will like us. At times, though, I believe it has the reverse effect. Other people don’t view us as talented or as worthy because we don’t appear to view ourselves that way.”
Read more on Forbes