It’s not an Earth-shattering concept that healthy confidence is an asset in the workplace. But it can also deliver bottom-line benefits to both the individual and the organization by allowing you to excel in a number of areas necessary for greater financial success.
“There’s no randomly controlled trial about how much confidence affects the bottom line–that would be hard to do,” says licensed psychologist Leslie Sokol, PhD, and coauthor of Think Confident, Be Confident. “But confidence is essential in goal achievement–whether it’s a task, sales quota, or income threshold.”
Healthy confidence is a belief in oneself as a capable person whose judgment can be trusted, Sokol says. It’s not perfectionism or narcissism, which are too often conflated with confidence. When you feel good about yourself and your ability, while still remaining open to learning new things and hearing others’ ideas, it’s a good indicator that you haven’t crossed the line from “confidence to cockiness,” she says.
Experts say healthy confidence can pay off in a few significant ways:
When you feel good about your ability, you can speak up for yourself and negotiate strongly for yourself and your organization, says Posy Gering, a Seattle-based performance and management consultant, and author of The Next You: Discovering Confidence, Calm and Courage Now.
If you’re riddled with self-doubt, “it’s going to be very difficult for you to stand up for yourself in the way you need to in a negotiation,” she explains. Confidence allows you to realistically understand what you need and what you’re worth–then ask for it.
Sokol agrees. Confident people are okay with being flexible and considering other viewpoints. At the same time, they’re not going to allow themselves to be compromised in ways that don’t make sense, she say.
A study published in the October 2014 issue of the Journal of Vocational Behavior found when teenagers believed in their ability to reach the goals they set for themselves later in life, they were more likely to achieve those goals in adulthood.
It’s no coincidence confident people are better achievers, Sokol says. They don’t pretend to have every answer. Instead, they seek outside input, training, resources, or advice to achieve their goals.
The ability to own up to their weaker areas, and seek out the tools and support systems to make them stronger and more knowledgeable are signs they are attractive candidates for development and promotion, she explains. This will move them up the career ladder.
Gering says self-doubting people often feel they have to do everything themselves because they are threatened by others. They worry others might perform better in the role or otherwise fear relinquishing control, so they try to hang on to tasks that should be delegated to others. That leads to inefficiencies in how your time is used, and this can cost your organization money, she says.
“You should be delegating tasks that can be done by others so you can focus on being better in your role as a leader,” she says. “If you’re handling too much minutia that could be handled by an employee who is paid less than you, then you’re wasting those resources and you’re not going to be able to see the big picture.”
Similarly, Gering says when you allow others to contribute, you let them deliver value, learn, and grow. As those around you take on more responsibility, confidence is what allows you to objectively view others’ strengths and guide them to roles that contribute to the organization.
People who lack confidence tend to micromanage or discourage others from being innovative or forward-thinking because they’re afraid success takes away from their own power or position, she says. Confident people encourage others to be their best, thus delivering value and innovation to the company.