Low Self-Esteem or Overly Confident?


People in all levels of the professional (and personal) stratosphere have issues with self-esteem; some too much, some not enough. Low self-esteem appears as lack of confidence, fear, uncertainty, and difficulty making decisions. An overly confident person may come across as arrogant, impatient, and abrasive.

A person with low self-esteem can be very accomplished but minimizes his or her successes. Recently I coached a well-paid creative director at a New York advertising agency who felt she lacked certain creative abilities and innovative skills yet was a master at exploding her team’s fledging ideas and getting the job delivered on time. Feeling “fraudulent” and concerned she was ill suited for her job (her high salary and tenure not withstanding), “Linda” agreed to take the Highlands Ability Battery which identifies one’s natural abilities. After completing the three-hour assessment, a two hour debrief showed her natural ability of “expanding possibilities” was congruent with her successes. She also learned it was her tendency to second guess herself – that if she would learn to appreciate and value her strengths, additional creative juices would flow more easily – and she would be happier at work.

The overly confident person is found in many corporations and is typically in a management position. Others, they believe, are the source of their problems. If people would simply follow their directions – quickly and perfectly! “Mike” was brought into his company to streamline business operations but he hadn’t expected a folksy culture that valued status quo and a relaxed environment. Mike needed to be coached on how to communicate more effectively with different types of people and how to “enroll” his employees in a new way of doing things that would benefit the organization’s new goals. Turns out this would make a difference in his personal life too.

In my coaching business I see both kinds of clients; the first client contacts me personally. He or she wants to take on a new exciting opportunity, may even want to start a new business but is frightened and second guesses every decision needed to be made. Management typically refers the second type of client, a valued high achiever, often viewed by others as a taskmaster with little regards for others. He or she thinks if only everyone else would “get with the program” everything would work out just fine.

Notice people in your sphere and see if you recognize any of these characteristics – in yourself and others.