How to Defeat Self-Doubt Like a Leader


Self-doubt laughs when you squander your talent.

Shelves filled with books on self-confidence speak to a universal truth. We seek what we lack.

Self-doubt:

  1. Amplifies the volume of your inner critic.
  2. Magnifies the opinion and criticism of others.
  3. Whispers, “You don’t matter.”
  4. Chokes the voice of your dreams.
  5. Focuses on fault and failure.
  6. Prevents you from stretching yourself and reaching high. You can’t stand on your tippy toes when all you think about is falling.
  7. Gloats when you’re less than you could be.
  8. Minimizes your strengths.
  9. Stops you from speaking up.
  10. Keeps you playing safe when opportunities are at hand.

“Everything you will every do as a leader is based on one audacious assumption. It’s the assumption that you matter.” Kouzes and Posner

Face self-doubt with curiosity:

  1. What’s the worst that could happen?
  2. How might you prepare?
  3. What small step can you take today? Delay is self-doubt’s ally.
  4. What do you really want?
  5. What might you try?
  6. Who might know?
  7. How far have you come?

5 steps toward self-belief:

Rob Jolles offers a 5-step system to develop self-belief in his book, “Why People Don’t Believe You…”

#1. Commit to believing. Self-doubt will laugh, but do it anyway.

#2. Allow yourself to try – and fail. “Believing in yourself has everything to do with allowing yourself to try.” Rob Jolles

#3. Try to see yourself as others see you. One suggestion is video tape yourself while you’re in action.

#4. Balance your personal feedback. Identify two areas you performed well. Then identify two areas where you might improve and decide what you want to do.

#5. Control the negative voices. One suggestion is speak to yourself with the kindness you offer others.

Finally, Jolles writes, “When you take the five steps, don’t wait to celebrate.” He adds, “When we struggle, we aren’t starving for food; we’re starving for joy.”

How might leaders develop self-belief?

How might leaders help others develop self-belief