16 Confidence-Boosting Tips For Newly Promoted Executives

Expert Panel®Forbes Councils Member

Regardless of the position’s rank, stepping into a new role at work can be intimidating. Newly promoted senior executives, in particular, may quickly find themselves burdened with a lot of overwhelming responsibilities.

It’s not uncommon for senior executives who were promoted into their roles from lower-level positions to struggle with not feeling totally confident in their work. Below, 16 members of Forbes Coaches Council share how they would advise clients facing similar situations.

Featured members share confidence-boosting tips for newly promoted executives.
Forbes Coaches Council members share confidence-boosting tips for newly promoted executives. 

1. Remember Your Goals

I would remind them of their goals to get them out of their own head and into the service of the team. Lack of confidence and fear stems from a person overly focusing on themselves; the fastest way to get out of that state is to start thinking about the team. I’d ask them to reflect on a time when they lacked confidence and turned it around—and remind them this situation is no different; it’s just another opportunity to grow. – Dave Conway, Conway Consulting

2. Think About Past Successes

You don’t need confidence. Can it help? Yes! Can you build it? Absolutely! But you don’t need confidence to carry on. I want to know: What got you here? Tell me about the recent past successes you have achieved and what impacts you’ve made through them. What results led you to become a senior executive? Leaders in this space need courage—courage to carry on. Doing so will take them forward. – David Yudis, Potential Selves

3. Seek Out Informal Feedback

Talk to others and ask them to share their opinions and thoughts on some of the things you are doing as a new executive. Getting frequent, positive feedback even on small things can help to reassure a newly promoted executive that they are on the right track. After all, someone else did have the confidence in you to assign the position to you. – Michele Cohen, Lead to Growth Coaching

4. Leverage Your Low Self-Confidence

Turn fears into capabilities. Less certain people are likely to seek feedback and opportunities for growth. They don’t appear arrogant, but rather present themselves in a collaborative manner, which helps them manage across. Those with strong allies often succeed. Now, you are no longer an executive with low self-esteem, but a collaborator who learns on the fly. – Inga Bielińska, Inga Arianna Bielinska Coaching Consulting Mentoring

5. Focus On Behavior, Not Attitude

Focus on required skill development, not feelings. Define the applicable skills you think you have. Determine which are transferable and which aren’t. Specify needed skills. Determine what actions are required by when to win what’s wanted. Cross-check your assessment against your leader’s evaluation. Think asset management: You’re the asset. Lead yourself forward. – Jay Steven Levin, WinThinking

6. Align Your Actions With Your Work Style

Leaders are held to very high standards—some unreasonable. As a leader, you do not have to have all the answers, nor be talented in everything. First, identify the area of concern. Then, consider whether the perceived deficit is a lack of skill or a work style challenge. Skills can be learned. From there, create a plan to align your actions with your authentic work style to mitigate any confidence gaps. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC

7. Focus On Small, Easy Wins

Get back to basics and rebuild your confidence by achieving small, easy wins. Just as in sports, executives and leaders can develop a case of the “yips,” which is usually caused by performance anxiety. This impacts even the best athletes and leaders. The only way to overcome the yips is to get back to the fundamentals. Soon you can regain your missing confidence and perform at peak levels. – Jonathan H. Westover, Utah Valley University & Human Capital Innovations, LLC

8. Identify The Root Of Discomfort

Introspect deeply, to understand what aspects of the new role are causing discomfort. This clarity will help you identify concrete forward action steps and enable you to plug any gaps that may exist. At any point in our lives, it’s important to acknowledge what is working well and what isn’t. Identifying the root of the discomfort and acknowledging it enables us to grow and move forward. – Rittu Sinha, The Balanced Bandwagon

9. Find One Win Every Day

A leader should define what their first wins or successes could be. Wins that are recognized and celebrated are repeated. Discover small wins. Small wins can, and often will, turn into big wins. Wins are the gateway to momentum and confidence. Leaders who lack confidence should focus on finding one win a day to build momentum and confidence in themselves and in others. – Ken Gosnell, CEO Experience

10. Focus On Your Strong Suits

Initially, nobody feels confident about something they haven’t done yet. That’s just the nature of our brains and of being human. I would invite the client to focus their attention on what they know about themselves that can give them confidence going forward: being an experienced problem solver, a super connector, an accomplished people manager, a visionary—take it from there! – Micha Goebig, Go Big Coaching & Communications, LLC

11. Develop A Plan For Next 90 Days

Having a plan for the next 90 days and delving into the details of that plan will help ground the executive in the areas that they are confident in while isolating the areas where they are struggling. Discussing the plan with colleagues will remind everyone of what their part is in helping the executive succeed. – Ben Levitan, Cedalion Partners

12. Empower Your Growth Mindset

Why empower a growth mindset? First, you will start viewing failure as an opportunity to improve your strategy for success continuously. Second, success will now be measured by how much you’re learning from the process. Third, you will no longer measure your self-worth by your job title. It’s just a title. – Raisa Ghazi, www.RaisaGhazi.com

13. Get An External Perspective

Low self-confidence reflects the executive’s internal perspective. To validate whether it’s justified or not (the latter being often the case), I’d suggest getting an external perspective via a stakeholder analysis. The new executive would systematically identify the (new) stakeholders’ needs and expectations, then objectively assess the status and quality of the relationships they have with these key stakeholders. – Andreas von der Heydt, Andreas Von Der Heydt Coaching & Consulting

14. Remember That You Have Been Here Before

My top piece of advice to those not feeling confident is to remember that this has happened in the past, and you have overcome it. Confidence comes and goes in waves at times, and simply acknowledging that fact is the first step is regaining that power. Reflecting on moments where you have overcome this self-doubt is a helpful tool to rebuild your confidence. – Josephine Kant, Google for Startups

15. Complete A Small Task

Confidence comes from seeing the results—however small—of your actions. For a senior executive client, I would look to break down some of their deliverables into more manageable items. Their lack of confidence may be coming from feeling overwhelmed about what needs to be accomplished. Completing a small task may give them the confidence to do more. – Dr. Rakish Rana, The Clear Coach

16. Explore What ‘Confidence’ Means

As coaching is not about advice, I would invite the client to explore situations in which they experienced a lack of confidence and were able to overcome it: How did they do that? Also, we might explore what “confidence” means for the client: Suppose they had confidence—what would be different? How would they notice? How would others notice? – Kirsten Dierolf, SolutionsAcademy – Speaking! GmbH