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The Alternative Board Blog

How to Overcome Self-Doubt and Be More Productive

Feb. 2, 2023 | Posted by Lee Polevoi

It’s not unusual for a first-time CEO or business owner to experience qualms about their ability to handle the challenges they face. But it’s also true that many veteran business leaders encounter self-doubt from time to time. Either they learn how to overcome those doubts, or they succumb to their lack of confidence in themselves and put their businesses at risk.


Fortunately, there are ways to counter any lack of confidence and translate their behavior into productive and inspiring leadership. Here are tips to keep in mind:


If you’re just assuming the new role, make a great first impression.

As Joe Farach, CEO TAB Georgia Northeast notes, “The new CEO’s first 90 days is a honeymoon period where she will be feted and indulged and tested.” To make a favorable impression with others in the organization, start out by identifying challenges your company faces, determining your key objectives, and assembling a concrete timetable that you are accountable for. Farach adds: “When a new leader makes known her values and demonstrates her leadership style, everyone on the team knows what to expect.”


When it comes to moments of uncertainty, remember you’re not alone.

Experiencing doubt about your capabilities is even more difficult to handle if you think you’re the only one who has ever felt this way.

On the contrary, “there are many more leaders experiencing self-doubt than you can think of,” notes Training Magazine. Rather than give way to doubt, derive lessons “from this tough period and treat the struggle as a platform for your future success.”


Don’t look at your emotions as “unalterable facts.”

“The truth is that your feelings are just that—feelings,” notes executive expert Olivia Jenkins. When you feel qualms about your leadership, remember they’re not the same thing as verifiable facts. In other words, feelings “are a moment in time—treat them as such.”


Stop associating with negative-minded people.

Within almost every organization, there are individuals who—sometimes unconsciously—labor under a cloud of negativity and spread that undesirable influence among others. If such individuals occupy a significant role within the organization, or on your executive team, this might be time to urge them to think differently about their life and business efforts.

At the same time, if these people are critically important to the company, it’s always possible for you to reduce the amount of time you associate with them.


Join a group of like-minded business leaders.

Putting forth a brave face for employees and other stakeholders is one thing. Obviously, people must have faith in your leadership abilities, or little will get done. But you don’t have to go it alone.

CEO membership organizations like TAB International are designed specifically to help business leaders cope with challenges and join with other members in overcoming self-doubt.

For example, TAB International sponsors mastermind groups around the world, where business owners regularly meet with the sole purpose of helping each other succeed. Also known as peer advisory groups or advisory boards, these groups are comprised of a small group of business leaders, usually no more than a dozen, who meet once a month (in person or online) to discuss challenges, get high-level advice, and learn how to be accountable for their actions.

There’s probably no better forum than this in which to cope with doubts you may have about your ability to lead and emerge a more productive business leader.

Want to learn more about strengthening your leadership skills? Register for our free TAB Boss Webinar, “Leadership Communication in the Face of Uncertainty.”

Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by Lee Polevoi

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