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Seb Anthony

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Building self-confidence


I have just started coaching a lady who is 48 years old and has been employed in the same organisation performing much the same role for 27 years. The role is very mundane, repetitive but important as she analyses market conditions and trading and has to produce sales and manufacturing forecasts. She is very effective and well respected, but not told so.

Her boss retires in 2 years time and will take with him an enormous amount of knowledge about the business; knowledge that cannot be replaced or acquired from elsewhere.

This lady has very low self-confidence and self-esteem. Very happy to work within her own boundaries but very uncomfortable to take a step outside. From our discussion she is the same in life, not just in work. Business needs mean that she now has to raise her game and get involved with taking some of the knowledge from her boss before he disappears. Not helped by the fact that boss is quiet and aloof. Imagine the dynamics!

I have some ideas for helping her build confidence and belief and being more proactive but any suggestions gratefully received.


Ray Loftus

4 Responses

  1. Can you build self confidence?
    Hi Ray
    As a coach I have worked with many clients in a similar situation, unfortunately in 99% of the cases I have had to use a different strategy with each one – so no single one-size-fits-all solution.

    First question (and it is a key one) – does the individual WANT the added responsibility? If not, I would walk away now as to ‘push’ someone that does not want to do this will only undermine the confidence she already has.

    Second – how does she measure confidence? Does she honestly believe the company would continue to employ her if she was not up to this business critical role? (I might work on this)

    You say she is very happy to work in her own boundaries – and that is the key – if she cannot or will not look outside this then to a greater or lesser extent defines her feeling of confidence.

    I would work in general terms by starting to identify with things that she is good at and likes doing (anything) and go back to a time when she could not do those things – show her progress and that she can do new things when she has either the need or desire to do so.

    Slowly, slowly with this one but only with her permission and commitment to expending her comfort zone.


  2. Her boss’s role
    I find it interesting that her boss isn’t expected to raise his game and get involved in succession plannning, coaching, mentoring, confidence-building etcetera. She is expected to become confident and competent, and responsive to a business need, but he seems to have ‘permission’ to remain quiet and aloof, and the sole repository of an enormous amount of business knowledge. If this lady is going to take over when her boss retires then they both need to work closely during the next two years; her boss will need to have a key role in her growth and development. Without that involvement I don’t see how this will work.

  3. I may be able to help
    As an expert in stress management low self-esteem is one of the issues I often come across and which can cause difficulties for people.

    As each case is very individual, I would suggest that she sees a counsellor such as myself who can help her or works with one of my online programmes on raising self-esteem.

    If you would like more information, please contact [email protected].

    Hope this is of help.

    Best wishes

    Annie Lawler
    Breathing Space for Business

  4. situation
    If I were her boss I would use a tricky scenario: I would say that I would be out for a week or so and that I handle her the things for a while. So now she has willy-nilly to play the game and act on his behalf.


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