Confidence according to Oxford Reference Dictionary is “a belief and self-assurance in one’s own abilities”.
Confidence is situation-specific, and includes having an expectation of success.
Confidence is also a belief in another person’s abilities.
Professional confidence can then be described as a belief and self-assurance in the abilities, knowledge, skills and competence of a professional.
Professional confidence for example is a belief in the abilities of a manager, practitioner, pilot, plumber, technician, dentist, social worker, teacher, solicitor, gas engineer, carpenter, surgeon, optician, etc.
At work, colleagues rely on the skills, knowledge and competence of one another. Information from email, reports, conversations, etc is relied upon for decision-making. A report, advice, opinion, assessment, etc that inspires confidence enables swift decision-making.
In contrast, colleagues, management teams, boards and so on may delay decision-making where there is little confidence in a report, advice, opinion, assessment, etc as well as the source or author.
Professional confidence is necessary. In fact, in the current world economic recession, business confidence in certain situation is lacking due to uncertainty in financial liquidity, consumer/customer/client behaviour, present or future action, etc. Other than satisfaction in the benefits of a product or service, confidence in the product or service’s ability to meet certain expectations is important.
Any organisation that provides a product or service will need to demonstrate to the recipient that he or she can have confidence in the product or service’s ability. The degree of confidence that colleagues, boards, management, etc have on a person depends on their abilities, knowledge, skills, competence, results, reputation, etc.
In sports it is described at times that the sport person has ‘lost’ his or her confidence. It is possible for any one to lose his or her confidence.
Hence the questions: How do you develop/increase professional confidence? How will you regain professional confidence? How will you regain the confidence that colleagues have in you, your opinion, advice, report or observation?
Developing professional confidence has a lot to do with your skills, knowledge, abilities, and competence. Skills, knowledge, abilities and competence need to be sharpened for effectiveness and efficiency.
How to develop professional confidence
Below are five means of developing professional confidence:
1. Proper understanding of your strengths and areas for development.
This understanding can be through gap-analysis of skills, knowledge, abilities and competence. Make a list of skills, knowledge, abilities and competence and compare them against criteria or standards. You can get a job description or profile, and self-evaluate your skills, knowledge, abilities and competence against the job/role specification. You can use a mentor, coach, development professional, colleague, etc to assist you through this process.
2. Implement the information from the gap-analysis.
Develop an action plan that prioritises and outlines activities to improve skills, knowledge, ability and competence. For instance, to increase or stretch one’s ability to use more features of technology.
3. Take the initiative and opt to lead or take part in new projects.
This experience can stretch thinking, skill, knowledge, ability or competence, and it’s a helpful means to improve your ability and resilience in working in pressured or new situations.
4. Read, train, re-train, and learn.
This mean you need to gain better understanding to improve skills, knowledge, abilities and competence. The insight you gain will assist you to acquire the skills and knowledge, and apply them to situations and tasks.
5. Apply learning and ask for feedback.
Try out the knowledge and skills you’ve obtained. You gain confidence from improvements and use feedback as an opportunity to improve your abilities, skills, knowledge and competence.
Being assertive and developing professional confidence are on-going endeavours. Therefore, developing professional confidence is a process that ceases at the end of life.
According to Thomas A. Edison, “If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves”.
In conclusion, developing professional confidence should be a practice of every professional. Trust in your opinions, advice, observations, judgements, capabilities, skills and knowledge are sure to enhance your reputation and improve your prospects, advancement and other opportunities.
“Every negative event contains within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.” – Jim Rohn
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” - Albert Einstein
“I absolutely believe that people, unless coached, never reach their maximum potential.” Bob Nardelli
“You are the same today as you’ll be in five years except for two things, the books you read and the people you meet.” – Charlie “Tremendous” Jones