Is Your Lack of Confidence At Work Holding You Back In Your Career?

Patricia Bonnard
4 min readAug 6, 2022


Your confidence at work significantly affects your performance, how others see you, and your opportunities. That’s why it’s so important to know if it’s your lack of confidence or something else that’s holding you back at work and in your career.

Are You Confident In Yourself and Others At Work?

Confidence can be looked at from two perspectives: confidence in others and confidence in yourself. Let’s define them both.

Confidence in your colleagues means you feel that you can rely on and trust them. For example, you’re confident your teammates will complete their obligations to your joint project in a timely way. Or, you can trust a workplace confidant with issues you experience with your supervisor or other colleagues.

Second, confidence in yourself means you feel self-assured about your own abilities and other relevant qualities.

Both aspects are critical at work, especially the latter if your workplace is highly collaborative and interdependent. Of course, the degree of competitiveness in work culture has significant barring as well.

However, here we’ll focus on your evaluation of yourself.

Lack of Confidence At Work is Actually Very Common

If you lack confidence at work you’re not alone. According to one 2019 study, 79 percent of women and 62 percent of men regularly feel a lack of confidence on the job.

Sometimes these feelings are temporary or situational such as when a person embarks on a new and difficult task. However, at issue is a chronic lack of self-confidence, frequent self-assessments inconsistent with performance, or even full-blown imposter syndrome, (i.e., chronic and multidimensional low self-esteem and self-worth) are rampant in the modern workplace. One relatively recent study estimates that 75 percent of US female executives suffer from imposter syndrome at one time or another (KPMG LLP, 2002).

Given figures such as these, you might want to take a moment to assess if a lack of self-confidence could be holding you back at work and in your career.

7 Behaviors That Indicate a Lack of Confidence At Work is Holding You Back

A lack of confidence can percent itself in a number of different ways, both emotionally and behaviorally. Consider whether you exhibit these seven common behaviors associated with low self-esteem or self-worth. Also, reflect on the emotions and beliefs associated with them. The behaviors are as follows:

  1. Frequent comparsions of yourself to and modeling yourself after others.
  2. A persistent external focus that causes you to neglect and/or devalue your own personal perspectives as well as inhibit the development of your unique strengths and skills.
  3. Reliance on frequent encouragement and acknowledgment of your work performance and on guidance and orientation from others.
  4. Hesitation toward expressing your opinion or making suggestions for fear you’ll appear foolish, incompetent, or inexperienced.
  5. Dread giving or receiving feedback, mentoring others, or managing performance direct reports.
  6. Avoid certain key responsibilities tied to professional advancement because you question your ability to successfully fulfill these responsibilities.
  7. Have difficulty meeting deadlines because you fear failure and compulsively scrutinize the quality of your work and make endless revisions.

Unfortunately, depending on the job and circumstances, any one of these behaviors could be sufficient to hold you back. You may not be marginalized, overlooked for promotion, demoted, or fired for possessing these behaviors, but almost certainly they’ll take an emotional toll and diminish your productivity and performance.

Or Is It Your Lack Of Confidence In Others?

Your assessment of yourself and your competency can be colored by your work environment. Lacking confidence or trust in others can undermine your confidence in yourself. Let’s look at three common examples.

The first is when your lack confidence or trust in your supervisor and other authorities. For example, your superior regularly fails to act upon or even listen to what you say. Odds are his/her behavior will kill your confidence because you believe what you do or say won’t be noticed or appreciated. Alternatively, your actions could arouse in your supervisor insecurities, ire, or disdain. Obviously, sentiments such as these would likely dampen anyone’s initiative and self-confidence.

Second, you could have work relationships that are so disagreeable and intolerable they taint your overall work experience. In the extreme, this can ruin your attitude toward yourself, your job, and/or your profession.

Third, stressful and arduous work relationships can challenge your focus, performance, and personal assessment. This can be true, even when your core competencies are more than adequate. You might question whether it’s you or your environment.

Identifying and sorting out these types of issues is a critical part of your assessment of whether your confidence is holding you back in your career. You may find it’s time to change jobs and employers, but not because you’re incompetent in some way.


Patricia Bonnard, PhD, ACC is an integrated life coach, embodied practitioner, and energy healer. She offers virtual and in-person sessions and numerous short workshops on personal growth, natural healing, and wellness. For more about Patricia, visit her website Starchaser Healing Arts.



Patricia Bonnard

Integrated Coach and Energy Healer, Writer, Speaker, Teacher