How To Be A Leader When Self-Doubt Shows Up?

Sue McKenzie is Founder & Principal of Orange Coaching. Having spent over 25 years leading large and small teams, she became fascinated by the thinking and behaviour patterns that contribute to successful organisations. Sue now works with organisations globally developing leaders and teams to emulate those patterns to create successful organisations where great people thrive.

Sue delivers a number of outstanding Leadership Programs for organisations across many sectors including Lonely Planet, McCann, Chobani, AGL and the Australian Government.

In these challenging times, it’s important to pay attention to our self-belief. Let’s face it, we have all been tested in recent weeks, and for some people their feeling of self-worth has been shaken.

I love this experiment – how much self-belief do you actually have? Give it a try and see how you might answer.

So, imagine you are going for a great role at an amazing place you have been wanting to work for ages. The salary is a bit more than you are on at the moment, and that’s OK because it reflects the increased responsibility.

You are reading the info the night before, and nearly fall off your chair.

The salary has an extra nought on the end of it  – one more then you had thought.

(So imagine the salary you thought was $280K it is ACTUALLY $2.8M).

What do you do?

  1. Get excited, you’re going to be going on a major spending spree;
  2. Start talking yourself out of it already by telling yourself things like:

“They can’t have read my CV right”;

“They must have far more experienced people lined up”;

“For this money, the person would need at least to have done this type of role before, and I haven’t, so I’m never going to get it”;

“I’ll go for the experience, but it will probably be embarrassing when they find out who I really am”;


  1. Don’t even go for the role.

Sadly, in an experiment conducted – most people plumped for the latter, and didn’t even rock up to check it out.

Such was their self-doubt.

Interesting, isn’t it? And an extreme experiment, but one worthy of causing us to pause for a moment.

Now, what did YOU answer?

Now add another nought and another…

When do you hit C?

That tells you your comfort zone. The zone in which you feel comfortable saying “Yes, I add that much value and I am worth that, but no more”. WHO SAYS?

It’s such a great question to ask people, because it tells you so much about how they value themselves. It also helps you to elicit their beliefs around what doing a great job is.

And here’s the rub.

Leadership is no longer about hierarchy.

It’s not about earning the right to lead.

It’s absolutely not about experience or education.

And it’s never about money or title.

AND YET, I spend a lot of time trying to convince some new leaders I work with that this is not the case.

We are brought up to believe (well certainly the last generation before this one) that leadership is based on experience and certificates and all that stuff and yet we know in this digital world that the ability to think critically, to be adaptable and think beyond conventional wisdom is what counts.

To which end, if you follow the logic through, we should be suspicious of conventional education and experience, don’t you think?

Here’s the difference.

True leaders can be anyone in your company.

Regardless of age, gender, experience or educational background.

It’s about whether they are willing to stand up, make a difference, have an idea and communicate it.

It’s about being able to let go of the detail and the stuff that doesn’t matter.

It’s about being able to see the bigger picture.

And most importantly it’s about having belief. Belief in self.

Not that you already know it all. You don’t (and P.S. neither does anyone else).

But that you have the belief that you can learn what you don’t know.

And that you have the energy, passion and drive to fill in the gaps.

There is help everywhere  – it is EASY to fill in the gaps.

The greatest challenge lies not in doing the role, but in believing that you are already enough to succeed in the role.

And, whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your team:

1. Join Us inside The Leadership Mentoring Project – it’s our private Facebook Group where we are sharing training and our secrets to levelling up your agency team  – Click Here

2.  Join our Leaders Momentum Program
If you are a leader looking to improve your leadership skills to ignite the results of your team…just reply to this message here and put “Momentum” in the first line…tell me a bit about your situation, and we’ll get you all the details.

4. Work with me and my team privately
If you’d like to work directly with me and my team to take you from good to great… just reply to this message here and put “Private” in the subject line… tell me a little about your organisation and what you’d like to work on together, and I’ll get you all the details

All the best,

Sue “Believe in You” McKenzie

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