Five Tips to Help You Feel More Confident

Five Tips to Help You Feel More Confident

This is a post I published a few years ago now but I believe it still useful.

Having a healthy amount of self-esteem and self-confidence is something that helps to make your life happier and more successful. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities goes a long way whether you’re facing a tough decision, adapting to a new situation or facing major change. Here are some tips on how to build your self-esteem.

1. Stay relaxed

Staying relaxed in general can help you see the bigger picture and not sweat the small stuff so much. It’s also a good frame of mind to be in when you’re taking a close look at the things you’re not so good at. There are lots of simple relaxation techniques around that can help – simple breathing exercises are easy to learn and really do help. Try this link.

2. Understand your strengths

Everybody’s good at something, and many people are good at quite a few things. Even if you don’t have a talent or strength that you’re aware of, you probably have some interests you can develop into strengths.Make a list of a few things you’re good at and a few things you’re interested in and would like to be better at. Share this list with someone you like and trust – this is a good exercise to do with a partner who also wants to work on their confidence. They can probably help you find other things you’re good at, too, and help you come up with a plan for developing other skills and interests.

3. Realize your limits.

Remember no one is perfect and no one can do everything. It may not always seem this way, but it’s true. So if you are not the chief executive or a millionaire – that’ is OK! You have a personality and a perspective on the world that’s all your own and completely valuable.

4. Stop criticizing yourself. Now!

This is one of the things that stop us achieving our goals and feeling good about ourselves. You are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses just like everyone else.Concentrate on the good bits! If you don’t do well at a particular project or task the first (or even the second time), it doesn’t mean that you never will. Perhaps you weren’t prepared or the time simply wasn’t right. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you or that you’ll never succeed. It is natural to feel disappointed but don’t get hooked on it – let it go and move on. You’ll be that much closer to achieving what you want if you do.

5. Celebrate the good things.

Notice all the good things you do in a day even the small things.Everything – the favor you do for a friend – the help you give a relative – it’s all good.Notice it and give yourself a big pat on the back.Get hooked on feeling good about what you achieve – it will become a habit. You could always keep a celebration journal to reflect on when you are feeling down.  Don’t be afraid to treat yourself when you do something good.

Wendy Mason is the Happiness Coach.  Wendy is a life and career coach and writer. She is passionate about helping people find happiness at work and at home! She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  She believes coaching requires compassion, warmth and empathy. Wendy helps people reach their career goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.You can contact Wendy at and find out more at

Embedding Change – Making It Stick And Creating A Culture

Embedding Change – Making It Stick And Creating A Culture

Here are some ways to make sure the change in your organization is successful

  1. Give them the evidence Show people over and over that the change is real. Provide them with a steady stream of evidence to prove that the change has happened and is successful.  Set out to deliver real results at regular intervals in your change process and then tell people about them – don’t just wait for the big bang at the end. Get people involved and then get them to talk about their involvement.  Make sure everyone hears the news.
  2. Financial reward When loyalty and the joy of the job are not enough to keep people, they may need some financial or other rewards.  The promise of future reward may be enough to keep them engaged but make sure it isn’t too far out to be enticing — usually reasonable reward needs to be within a twelve-month timeframe. This risk is that when the reward is gained, you may lose them. If you want them to stay, you may need to keep a rolling “golden handcuff “ system
  3. Build change into formal systems and structures After a while, institutionalized things become so entrenched, people forget to resist and just do what is required, even if they do not agree with them.  So you can make changes stick by building them into the formal fabric of the organization, for example, in standards and personal objectives.
  4. Give them a new challenge A challenge is a great motivator that can focus people on new and different things. Get people to keep up interest in a change by giving them new challenges related to the change.  Make sure the challenges really stimulate them and keep them looking to the future.
  5. Reward people for doing the right things. A surprisingly common trap in change is to ask (or even demand) that people change, yet the reward system that is driving their behavior is not changed. Asking for teamwork then rewarding people as individuals is a very common example.  So when you make a change, make sure that you align the reward system with the changes that you want to happen.
  6. Rites of passage Rituals are symbolic acts to which we attribute significant meaning. A celebration to mark a change is used in many cultures, ranging from rites of passage to manhood for aboriginal tribes to the wedding ceremonies of Christian and other religions. Such ritual passages are often remembered with great nostalgia, and even the remembrance of them becomes ritualized.  When a change is completed, celebrate with a party or some other ritualized recognition of the passing of a key milestone.  You can also start a change with a wake (which is a party that is held to celebrate the life of someone who has died) to symbolize letting go of the past.  Create new rituals to help shift the culture to a new form. Use these, if possible, to replace the rituals that already exist.
  7. Socializing Build your change into the social fabric. A change that is socialized becomes normal and the ‘way things are’.  When something becomes a social norm, people will be far more unlikely to oppose it as to do so is to oppose the group and its leaders. Seal changes by building them into the social structures.  Give social leaders prominent positions in the change. When they feel ownership for it, they will talk about it and sell it to others.

If you have other ideas for embedding change and making it successful, please share them here.
Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at and find out more at

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Why don’t you want to manage older workers?

Why don’t you want to manage older workers?

We hear much about the efforts required to get young people into work. And, of course, that is important. But spare a thought for those of us at the other end of the age spectrum.

There may be lots of reasons why older workers are finding it difficult to stay in, and find new opportunities for, work. Lots of those reasons may not be valid for the majority of older workers but they have built up into a prejudice.

Unfortunately, it is true that many who are making hiring decisions believe older workers don’t perform as well as those between 25 and 35 – that seems to be the new “golden zone” for recruits. Older workers are said to demand high pay, cost more in terms of resources, resist change and don’t respond flexibly to fit in with a team. As a result , sometimes carefully disguised, discrimination against older workers is widespread.

Managing an older worker does not require a hugely different approach, to managing a very young person. But some younger managers find the whole prospect daunting – so they do their best to avoid it. The biggest concern employers’ express about hiring older workers is that there will be conflicts when they are managed by younger supervisors. In the US, it is said that an incredible 88 percent of employers worry about hiring older workers because they fear such conflicts.

Managing someone older than you, does seem to touch a very raw nerve in managers and there seems to be a high level of distrust on either side. So how can managers get the best out of their older workers?

In most circumstances, older workers are like other workers – they are unlikely to respond well in a command and control culture. Except in an emergency, older workers are not likely to respond well to being “given orders”. But, they are likely to respond well to an intelligent and enlightened leadership style. This means communicating clearly about issues and challenges.

They welcome being involved in decision making and having tasks delegated to them. Give an older worker responsibility and most are likely to give you their all and share with you their wealth of experience. So, then they expect you to give them recognition for what they have done, including for the wisdom they share with you. If you give your older workers the opportunity, their work will shine just like the grey hair on their heads.

Wendy Mason is a career coach.  She helps people reach their goals and aspirations, without sacrificing their home and personal life.  Before working as a coach, Wendy had a long career in both the public and private sectors in general management and consultancy as well as spells in HR.  She now divides her time between coaching and writing. You can contact Wendy at and find out more at

Would you like to reach your career goals and aspirations, while having a fulfilling home and personal life? Find out more at this link
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Dictionary Definition;

1. Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.

2. The state of being unimpaired; soundness.

3. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.

“I have found that being honest is the best technique I can use. Right up front, tell people what you’re trying to accomplish and what you’re willing to sacrifice to accomplish it.” – Lee Iacocca

The most effective way to behave in work and business (including large banks), as in life, is to act with integrity.  Note the definitions above which talk about wholeness, soundness and completeness – this is a definition of health?

That means being as honest as you can and being fair.  As Lee Iacocca says, tell your team the truth and tell them what you are doing about it.  Be a model for honesty, openness and fairness and show that you expect all in your team to follow

Be as realistic as you can about the risks    When you can, help your staff prepare for bad news.  But combine all of this with being scrupulously fair.  They will know if you play the favorites game or, for example, take the opportunity to pay off old scores if you have to  lay people off or reduce hours.  You will lose good will and that extra contribution you need from those who stay.

In the good times share bonuses fairly and for good reasons – nothing is more de-motivating than seeing a colleague who doesn’t really deserve it, getting a bonus. If the bonuses you pay will not stand up to public scrutiny – don’t pay them.

There are major advantages in acting with integrity in all parts of the business in  terms of competitive advantage.

  • The public, and that means your customers, are increasingly concerned about ethical standards
  • Customers and good staff are more like to be attracted and retained
  • Shareholders are more likely to invest in those they trust, now more than ever
  • Staff and your own morale will be higher
  • Your reputation will be something you can be proud of
  • (At its crudest) You stay out of jail and believe me in old age, the money will not make up for the shame.

Here are some ideas for acting with integrity! If you can’t get your head round it, hire someone to advise you on good governance – there are plenty of us around and it isn’t hard to put it in place.

Some principles for making decisions with integrity!

  1. Make sure those in management know how to step back from every critical decision before they make it and look at it objectively.
  2. Understand the risks in your own culture.  Monitor those likely to get swept along by excitement or urgency to the point where they lose judgment .   Personal power, ‘winning’, strategic plotting, high drama, etc. feel good – they are exciting – but they rarely lead to real long-term business advantage
  3. Strive for fairness and the long-term, and not short-term polarized ‘winner takes all’ outcomes that threaten the organization’s long-term survival.
  4. Learn from history and earlier situations. Reviewing how previous situations were handled, reduces the risks of making daft mistakes:  Also history is a superb store of already invented wheels, which can often save you the time and agonies of trying unsuccessfully to invent a new one.
  5. Understand the long-term consequences.  You need to build in time, and structures, to think through what these might be. Try to make sure there are no unforeseen consequences which work to your, and other people’s,  detriment. Ask;
    1.  What do I get out of this? If you directly address how you benefit it’s easier to spot biases and blind spots.
    2. If we do this, what will happen? Play out the effects of the  decision. Be alert to the impact on stakeholders you may not have considered.
  6. Make sure what you do is legal, but think about the spirit of the law as well as the words.  No one really respects or trusts someone who is known to “bend” the law and that includes your customers and share holders
  7. Consult widely –  not just your staff, but your customers, if you can,
  8. Above all, resist the delusion and arrogance that power and authority tends to foster. This is especially important to guard against if you live and work in a protected, insulated or isolated situation, as many large-scale leaders and decision-makers tend to do. Being a leader for a long time, or for any duration in a culture of arrogance, privilege and advantage, provides great nourishment for personal delusion. Many unethical decisions come from arrogance and delusion. Guard against becoming so dangerous.

Acting with integrity doesn’t just help you to sleep at nights but you also stand a chance of leaving a real legacy – someone who is remembered and respected in your community and beyond for a very long time!

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at

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How Many Leadership Styles Do You Need – Life Cycle Leadership

How Many Leadership Styles Do You Need – Life Cycle Leadership

This is a new version of a very popular post on this site.

I’ve written a lot about how teams behave and my approach has been based on Tuckman’s Team behaviour theory – you can find links to these articles at the bottom of this post. Tuckman’s approach and the leadership theories of Hershey-Blanchard and Adair can be brought together into one simple model.

This shows how different Leadership styles are required across the life cycle of any group activity.

  1. Telling – at the start an activity, task or project, the individual, team or group usually know little about what is required of them and they can be confused and uncoordinated! Generally, they lack the specific skills required for this particular piece of work and they may not know each other. Lacking knowledge and confidence, they are anxious and unwilling to take responsibility for the task. The leader needs to go into “Telling” mode. This means being more directive; focusing on the task, promoting ownership by the individual team member and promoting their confidence. This Telling stage is characterized by one-way communication in which the leader defines the roles of the individual or group and provides the what, how, when, and where to do the task.
  2. Selling – as the group develops, the leader focuses on coaching to get them into the delivery stage! They agree how they will behave to complete the task! But in doing this there may be conflict and a leader may need a facilitative approach to lead them to resolution. They are still not able to take on responsibility; but, they are willing to work at the task. While the leader is still providing the direction and focusing on the task, he or she is now focusing as well on individuals using two-way communication – listening as well as giving instruction. The leader provides the coaching and support needed to help the individual or group buy into the process.
  3. Participating – as the individual or team becomes more confident and self managed the leader concentrates on leading the team overall and develops a delegating style! The team are experienced and able to do the task but may still lack the confidence to take on full responsibility. There is now shared decision-making about how the task will be accomplished and the leader generally provides far less instruction, concentrating instead on strengthening bonds and commitment within the group.
  4. Delegating – when the group is fully mature, the leader is still involved in decisions; but responsibility for how the task will be accomplished has been passed to the group. The leader stays involved to monitor progress. But the group are experienced at the task, and comfortable with their own ability to do it well. They are able and willing not only to do the task, but to take responsibility for its completion.

I have described the stages in terms of group behaviour but the same cycle is seen in the development of individuals when they take on a new role.

No one style is right for any leader all the time. Good leaders need the confidence to be flexible, and to adapt themselves according to the situation. The right leadership style will depend on the person or group being led.

If you would like support in developing your own leadership style, get in touch – my email address is below.

Want to be a Confident Networker? Join my free teleseminar on 26th June 2012

Wendy Mason is a Life and Career Coach.  She helps people have the confidence they need to be successful at work and to change career while maintaining a good work/life balance. You can email her at

Wendy’s earlier articles on how teams behave

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Leadership, the Lone Worker and Getting Things Done

Cartoon of the big bad wolf reading a bedtime ...

Many moons ago when I was a manager in a large organization.  I had a fearsome reputation for getting things done! I choose my words carefully here and, yes, fearsome is the word.

Dictionary definition: fearsome – causing or capable of causing fear!

Yes, I was very well-known for achieving but most of it had a lot to do with volume (of voice) and not value!

Over the years I learnt more about leadership and that true leadership is about vision and valuing both those you lead and those for whom you are delivering.  There was very little to be gained by aggression or an aggressive style of leadership.

I learned as well about project management and that even the achievement of simple tasks can often benefit from a little analysis and planning.

When I moved on from management and into management consultancy, what surprised me, as much as the general lack of leadership, was a lack of delivery skills.

Simply – people did not  know how to manage getting things done and their goals achieved!

Well, we read all the time about the lack of leadership competence.

I suspect the complexity of modern organizations is probably far outstripping our ability to generate enough competent leaders.  If that is true it very worrying indeed.  But that is not why I’m writing today.

The lack of delivery skills, whether well–led or not, is even more frightening.

There lots of people around with great ideas.  They have vision, energy and enthusiasm and they may well have great leadership ability.  If they manage to find themselves in organizations that can support them, they will lead their teams to deliver great things.  But they can founder, if they cannot work in environments that support them in that way.

If you work alone or in a very small organization then you have to be both a thoroughly competent leader and a good manager.  Now what do I mean?  Surely when you work alone you don’t need leadership and management skills.

Sorry but I think you do!  You need to be able to articulate a vision for yourself that will motivate you to commit to the task ahead.  It needs to set-out in enough detail for you to plan the tasks you will need to do if you are to turn your vision into reality.

Then you need to plan, manage and check your project through until you deliver and enjoy the benefits.

Quite a challenge isn’t it!  If you need any help please get in touch I have lots of tips to pass on.  I will be very happy to share with you the lessons I learned the hard way when I decided that fearsome wasn’t the best leadership style I could adopt!

Wendy Mason works as a Coach,Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence

If you would like to work on developing your own confidence, Wendy offers the Wisewolf Learn to Be Confident Program at this link

You can contact Wendy at  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

Taking Your First Steps in Leadership

English: Children playing in snow

So when do you start to be a leader?

Well, we start leading as soon as someone starts to follow!

You’ve seen them haven’t you – a group of children playing together and then one of them starts to assume command?  They decide the games that will be played and usually the roles that others will take!  “We are going to play….” and off they trot – one of the group has become the leader.

In the workplace, as soon as there are two of you, someone has to lead.  Someone has to decide what you are there for and how you will work together! It is this act of making sense of things that is the core element of leadership.

Some people can’t wait to take the responsibility for leadership and they thrive on it.

Others are more diffident.  The prospect can be frightening and they think they won’t know what to do.  They hope someone else will be the leader, or that leadership can be avoided.

But organizations without any leadership founder!

To be successful leadership needs recognition, so that the direction people need can be given.

People need to know who the leader is! They will want, and need, someone to check-in with to make sure that they, and the organization, are on the ‘right’ course!

Clear and cohesive leadership can give a sense of direction and security even in these troubled times.

But remember as Warren Bennis has said “Leaders are made rather than born.”   So even if you start out nervous or unwilling to lead, you can learn to meet the challenge for your organization.

You too can learn to develop a vision and to empower and support your people in turning that vision into reality.

As you step into leadership, ask yourself what do I bring to the role and how will I prepare?  Then you will find there are lots of resources out there to help you on your leadership journey.

With commitment and good will, you have your feet on the first steps of the ladder to giving your organization the leadership it needs.

Wendy Mason works as a Coach, Consultant and Blogger. She works with all kinds of people going through many different kinds of personal and career change, particularly those wanting to increase their confidence

If you would like to work on developing your own confidence, Wendy offers the Wisewolf Learn to Be Confident Program at this link

You can contact Wendy at  or ring ++44 (0)2084610114

Great group – sad about the leader – mood contagion.

A Mantled Guereza, close-up, looking sad

Mood contagion is the automatic and unconscious transfer of mood between individuals.

It occurs because we tend to mimic others’ nonverbal behaviour.

Research has shown that intense moods are more likely to be transferred.  Joy or distress are more likely to be passed on than calmness or boredom.

Although mood contagion can transfer between any two or more people, leaders probably have an even greater impact on their group mood.  This is because of their importance to the organization.

If you, as a leader, can’t regulate your emotions,  members of your group might often experience stress and anxiety.  This is both in trying to cope with you as the leader and in dealing with the tasks at hand.

Leaders in a bad mood don’t need to be abusive or hostile!  Their mood needs only to be negative. Research shows that even subtle expressions of negative mood can have an impact on followers.

This raises all kinds of issues in the present economic downturn!  This is a time when we all feel miserable sometimes.  But you as a leader have to work to manage down the impact of your own feelings.

Think about those leaders who handle a crisis well. Do they manage their mood and communicate clearly while creating a safe environment for their employees? Or do they just let it all hang out and then deal with the casualties?  Who would you rather deal with and what kind of leader do you want to be?

Remember when you feel down you need to

  • Recognize that your mood will an impact on your group
  • Work to reduce that negative impact
  • Intentionally change your mood – there is a technique at this link that you can learn for this.

I would welcome your thoughts on all of this and your tips for handling your own feelings.

Wendy Mason works as a personal and business coach, consultant and blogger. She has managed or advised on many different kinds of transition and she has worked with all kinds of people going through personal change. If you would like her help, email her at or ring ++44(0)2084610114 or ++44(0)7867681439 or 

Turn, turn, turn! Knowing when to leave

Dandelion clock

“Turn! Turn! Turn! To Everything There Is a Season (Book of Ecclesiastes via Pete Seeger and the Byrds)

All things change!

We all have special moments when we are truly happy. So happy in fact, that we want that moment to last forever.  We all have other moments that are so dark that time seems to stop – but it doesn’t.

One of the great lessons we learn is that time moves on and everything changes.

This is a true at work as much as in our private life.

We move into a new role or start a new project full of a mixture of excitement and trepidation.  We need to learn a new team as much as the technical elements of the work and the corporate culture.

We go through an adventure, reading the corporate map – which parts we can afford not to visit for a while and what others need urgent attention?

Just at the point when we think we know how it works we discover something staggering that we can’t afford to ignore.

The challenge is exciting.  There is work to do and people to lead who need our special skills and our particular vision.

Time moves on and the organization becomes our own!  But there are still challenges out there, new problems to solve and new horizons to look for.

Time moves on again.  We get to a point when we no longer need to look at the map, or even open our eyes, to know how to get where we want on that particular turf.

Nothing surprises us anymore and for us the task is complete.

What we are bringing now doesn’t have the same energy and excitement about it. We know the organization under our leadership is on the right track but we would rather think about things outside than inside it!

We feel we have stopped learning and we no longer inspire!

It is time to move on.  We know the organization needs something better and so do we!

So we plan our exit carefully as we would any project – we still care for this organization and its people.  We develop an exit strategy and we manage it.

We do all we can to help them find a  successor while we explore that opportunity that gave us such a buzz when we discussed it. We tie up the loose ends and move on.

We have done our best for the organization and ourselves.

Where as if you ignore the signs and hang around – oh dear!

You’ve seen them haven’t you – the Wednesday golf is far more important than the corporate vision!

Do you want to join them?

Then be prepared to turn, turn, turn and know when it is time to leave!

Three Leadership Steps to Defuse Tense Situations – Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Review wordmark

How do leaders maintain morale and momentum when members of their team are close to collapsing in frustration over the obstacles they face? Perhaps the issue is angry customers whose questions are hard to answer, or uncooperative peers from other groups who cause logjams and delay decisions. Team members might grumble and complain, or they might simply appear worn down, ready to drop the ball.

Sometimes leaders are frustrated or annoyed themselves. This is already taking too much time. The complaints sound like attacks, and it’s tempting to become defensive or seethe silently. Tensions are mounting.

Before tensions get worse, leaders should turn down the heat and get everyone back on track. They can use three simple communication steps……

Read more at Three Leadership Steps to Defuse Tense Situations – Rosabeth Moss Kanter – Harvard Business Review.