Got Promoted? 5 Ways to Feel Confident Fast as a New Leader

Let go of Imposter Syndrome

How to have more confidence as a leaderPromoted to be a leader? Congratulations!

Now, make sure you’re off to a confident start, and feel as sure of yourself as the people who promoted you are!

While your team will assume that you know what you’re doing because, well, you’re the boss, it’s important that you internalize confidence so you can be a great leader.

It’s natural if you doubt your abilities, or think that it won’t be long before others “find out” that you’re not as smart as they think you are.

This feeling is so widespread, it’s even got a name: “Imposter Syndrome.”

You have it if, in spite of others clearly seeing your potential, you fear that you’re not as skilled as all that, and that people will soon discover you’re a fraud.

Feel familiar? If so, you’re in good company, according to The International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of the population feels like this at one time or another.

In fact, many highly respected people have expressed their own self-doubts.

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

~ Maya Angelou

“There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.”

~ Dr. Chan, Chief of The World Health Organization

“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.”

~ Tina Fey

How to get beyond your self-doubt and feel genuinely confident? Here are five tips to help you:

1. Reframe what you feel confident about.

Don’t feel confident that you know all you need to know about your new leadership position?

No one expects you to.

Rather than feeling confident about having the job figured out on day (or week) (or month) one, shift your focus.

Feel confident that you can learn what you need to learn.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t feel confident that you know it all know. Feel confident that you can learn what you need to know! ~ @CrystalMJonas” via=”no”]

In her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential, Carol Dweck encourages “growth,” over “fixed” mindset.

People with fixed mindsets, rather than believing in the power of effort and application, see talent as innate. You’re smart or you’re not, and no amount of deliberate practice will change that.

On the other hand, Dweck explains, people with growth mindset know with focus, hustle and a willingness to fall down and get back up, improvement is possible.

Be willing to change your mindset. Have confidence, not that you will be great from the start, but that with diligence, you can become great.

Dweck notes that your belief in yourself has “the power to transform your psychology, and as a result, your life.”

2. Manage your own expectations.

Think of something you’re quite good at now. Running? The New York Times crossword? Parenting?

And how amazing were you when you started?

Not so impressive, right?

Great leaders know that they need to encourage realistic optimism with their team. Show that same grounded optimism with yourself.

It’s fine to have a challenging goal, just have a practical understanding of the mistakes you will make along the way to become the leader you can be.

3. Be open about mistakes.

You know when your boss makes mistakes, and the people you lead will know when you make them, too.

Trying to hide your misfires is exhausting and sends the message that it’s not okay to try something that doesn’t work.

Such an attitude is squarely in the fixed mindset territory.

Rather, speak frankly with your team about when you make attempts at work that don’t pan out as you thought.

Be ready to let them know what you learned, and what you’re going to do to fix it.

Your transparency will allow you to lead by example, showing your team that innovation includes making mistakes, and that you can learn from each one.

Your team will deepen their trust in you, and your confidence will strengthen.

4. Actively seek advice.

The most successful leaders have been mentored and sponsored.

Put ego aside and be willing to openly ask for advice from people in leadership whom you respect.

Your mentors and sponsors will likely share their mistakes with you and what they learned from them.

Hearing the mistakes that successful people have had and recovered from gives you hope that, no matter your blunders, others have also blundered, often, much worse that you! And they have gone on to have prosperous careers.

5. Keep a record of mistakes and lessons learned.

Never waste a well-earned lesson.

A young executive was called into the office of Tom Watson Jr., CEO of IBM from 1956 to 1971 after the young man had made bad calls costing IBM millions.

Answering Watson’s call for a meeting, the young leader said, “I suppose that after those mistakes you’ll want to fire me.”

Watson answered, “Not at all, young man. We’ve just spent a couple million dollars educating you.”

Your mistakes are your company’s investment in you. But they are only valuable if you’re willing to confidently learn from them.

Track what mistakes you made so that you can get every possible lesson out of your (an your company’s) investment.

Self-doubt hits most people when they take on new projects, responsibilities and levels of leadership.

With a growth mindset and a solid, realistic and purposeful plan, you can be learning and becoming the leader you were meant to be, faster than you imagined possible.

New to leadership or just got promoted?

Crystal Jonas is a speaker and author who delivers seminars on how leaders can be confident, competent and credible. Ask about her availability at

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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