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When have you been most confident at work, in any job?

I strongly suspect it was when you had a high level of competence in that job.

I recently had reason to recall the start of my recruitment career, in London twenty-five years ago. I was twenty-two years old. I was working in an office for the first time. I was living out of home for the first time. I was resident in a country that was not my own. I was in a job that I had zero previous experience in doing.

In the first few weeks of my job, my enthusiasm was high but my confidence wasn’t. I struggled. I was on the verge of failing. Luckily my manager, Kim, could see what was happening (it wouldn’t have been hard as she sat directly across from me).

Kim worked intensively with me to build my skills.

She sat in on my interviews. She provided valuable feedback and coaching after listening to my candidate and client calls. My confidence grew. I started making placements. It wasn’t long before I was succeeding in my job (which turned into a career).

Kim understood something that many leaders fail to understand. Kim understood that an employee’s enthusiasm for a job is not necessarily a sign of confidence, and it’s certainly not a sign of competence. She could see through my bravado and she invested her time to give me the gift of competence (well, at least enough competence to survive past my probation period).

How many recruitment leaders mistake enthusiasm for confidence, or worse, competence?

Genuine and sustainable confidence in any employee is built on a strong foundation of skills necessary to deliver the high performance their job requires. This is why a leader who systematically builds the

skills of their employees will, almost certainly, enjoy greater results from those employees, as well as greater loyalty and commitment.

Please don’t confuse enthusiasm with confidence.

Enthusiasm will have an employee turn up for work ready to tackle the day. How effectively that work is completed is based on competence.

Competence builds confidence.

And who doesn’t want a team full of confident employees?

Related articles:

The 5 things I wish I knew when I started in recruitment

Are you developing your talent or just training your staff?



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Law Nnaji

Well Ross,unfortunately,not necessarily so!I am sure,most of us have come across some demotivated competent who lack confidence.Rather,we can safely say that competence is a necessary but not sufficient condition to drive confidence.


Effective completion of a job is competence. The confident application of skill is what is being addressed, I imagine.

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