In my 25+ years of coaching, clients have come to me with all sorts of personal, professional, and relationship challenges. But at the root of so many of these problems was a lack of confidence—a lack of trust in their own abilities. They needed a Confidence Coach.
By the way, if you are a professional Life Coach who understands how fear works, has confidence building tools with proven case study results, and can personalize your coaching to focus on confidence, you could potentially be a Confidence Coach. (All Certified Fearless Living Coaches qualify as Confidence Coaches.)
Your clients’ confidence issues so frequently keep them from trusting their instincts and moving their lives in a positive direction. As their Life Coach, you’re there to help them build self-belief and a sense of empowerment. With these qualities, they can start to connect to their inner truth, move outside their comfort zones, and start to flourish.
The point of life coaching isn’t to make your clients dependent on you. It’s to help them build confidence and trust themselves to solve their own problems. However, confidence building is rarely a quick fix. The clients you work with will have often spent years, if not their entire lives, listening to self-doubt and fear. Moving out of this mindset takes time, but it’s very much worthwhile.
In this article, I’ll tell you what solid confidence coaching looks like and how to instill true confidence in your clients.
What Is a Confidence Coach and What’s Their Role?
First off, let’s clarify that a lack of confidence is a normal human experience. Anyone can feel unsteady when they venture out of their comfort zone, finding themselves in a new work role or trying to build a community in a new city.
Ongoing, debilitating confidence issues start when someone has exaggerated self-doubt and fear even in familiar situations. I once worked with a client, Linda, whose story illustrates this really well.
Linda was a pilates instructor who worked at one studio for many years. Her classes were always full and, sometimes, there were even people on the waiting list. Linda would often be on-call to cover for other instructors, and she rarely said no. She was a great instructor and a loyal employee.
However, she couldn’t bring herself to talk with her boss about a raise and working better hours. She wasn’t confident enough to speak up about the value she provided to the studio and why she should be paid more. So, she self-sabotaged by staying quiet, meaning she kept working terrible hours for not enough money.
This is a classic case for a Confidence Coach. In essence, they’re similar to a Life Coach, but they focus specifically on creating a sense of confidence as a way of facilitating the desired behaviors in the client’s life.
As a coach, support your client to see the truth of who they are (not who they think they are) by highlighting their natural strengths and pointing to things they’re already doing well. Linda’s hesitancy to ask for a raise and better hours was because of this limiting belief (what we call “a lie of fear” in Fearless Living): that it is up to others, not herself, to decide her worth. She saw herself as only worth whatever the studio decided to pay her. She was also afraid of being seen as incompetent. To hide from this fear, she took everyone’s shifts, worked overtime, and didn’t ask for a raise. But the truth was, she was already competent.
In our conversations, I challenged her self-belief that she was incompetent with the facts. For example, the fact that her classes were always full and other instructors routinely asked her for advice. After I continued to ask her questions about the difference between her perceptions and the facts, a new reality started to form, one that Linda could believe in. It was inspiring to watch her build momentum. Eventually, she became confident enough to ask for fair compensation and hours.
What Clients Look for in a Confidence Coach
Clients who look for a coach to help them with self-confidence often know their self-doubt (and a certain type of fear) is keeping their professional and personal development on hold. But even though they know that, they don’t know how to overcome it. You’re there to give them that nudge and be the witness to their unfoldment.
They are counting on you to show them how to take action despite their fear. They want empowerment.
Here are some typical goals clients bring to a confidence coaching session:
- Feeling more secure in their romantic relationships
- Improving their low self-esteem
- Being their authentic self with friends and family
- Building confidence with public speaking, dealing with clients, and other professional areas
- Strengthening their self-love and self-belief
- Improving their overall wellness and mental health
- Becoming more confident and effective leaders
Although these may seem like very different goals, they all come down to one specific skill your clients need to learn. That skill is taking more risks. This even applies to things like self-love. In order to love yourself, you must stop people-pleasing and start honoring your own needs, priorities, and dreams. This can feel scary to your clients; they worry this new way of being may repel the people around them.
At the same time, they’re probably aware that this fear isn’t going away on its own. For that to happen, they need to act first. They need to start behaving differently despite the fear.
That’s why change feels like a risk to them—even though it doesn’t necessarily put them in actual physical danger.
To help them become a more confident person, your job as a coach is to acknowledge those risks and guide your clients to see they’re worth taking. This is one of the eight fundamental coaching skills I teach in my Life Coaching Certification Program. This was also a game-changer for Linda when she was trying to build her confidence to ask for a raise at work.
We started with very small risks. First, I acknowledged her for little things, like making eye contact when she would normally escape it or for not overexplaining herself when her fear urged her to. Over time, those acknowledgments built Linda’s confidence and momentum, and she was able to do the impossible.
She spoke to her boss and asked for a raise and better working hours in one conversation. To her surprise, she got both. Incredible, right?
By the way, even successful corporate executives, small business owners making millions, and celebrities who seem to have it all need more confidence. Right now, I’m working with a client who makes a half-million dollars a year leading teams for one of the biggest companies on the planet, yet, when it comes to taking a new job, she doubts herself. She hesitates. She still wants the new job, yet she’s deathly afraid to rock the boat and leave a job in which she’s comfortable but dissatisfied.
So no matter how much money someone makes or what their job title is or their previous confidence quotient, most people, at some time or other, have a crisis of confidence.
The Basic Toolkit of Confidence Coaching
Now, you might be wondering: How is a transformation like Linda’s possible? What exactly did you do, Rhonda?
While I couldn’t possibly explain the whole coaching process here, I’ll share the foundation for how to coach someone with confidence issues. Let’s talk about the most basic toolkit of a Confidence Coach. While there are many other tools you can use, here are the four essentials.
The clients who want to build confidence typically need more structure during coaching sessions. That’s the easiest way to create a sense of predictability and security. From that place, it’s easier for them to be honest about their obstacles and face them.
A bulletproof way to have a good structure in your session is to be mindful of how you open and close it. I highly recommend you have a scripted way of doing that. (But make it your own, and make sure it fits the situation!) This way, coaching can become a “container” for difficult feelings and anxieties, and your work together will be smoother.
If you’re not sure how to structure a coaching session, download my Perfect Coaching Session Framework Fearbuster Coaching Toolkit for actionable tips.
Once you set up a structure, your next task is to help your client become aware about what’s holding them back. They can never reach their full potential if they don’t understand the root fear behind their lack of confidence.
The manifestations of their fear can vary from limiting beliefs to self-sabotaging stories to negative self-talk and more. To understand where those things are coming from, your client needs to name the core fear that’s driving them in their moments of low confidence. I help my clients do that through introducing them to the Wheel of Fear—the behavior pattern motivated by avoiding what they dread the most.
Linda’s core fear of being incompetent blocked her. She felt too insecure to ask for a raise and better hours because she was worried her boss would tell her she wasn’t skilled enough to warrant more money. Linda wanted to avoid hearing that at all costs. That’s why she couldn’t muster the courage to talk to her boss for years.
Once she became aware of that mechanism, she could identify the ways it was controlling her and lowering her self-belief. Just adding that awareness made it so much easier for her to act differently.
Start With Small Actions
Building confidence through coaching always starts with small actions. It has to. As I said before, the fear won’t go away on its own. Some change in behavior, no matter how small, is required to set a precedent.
The first steps can be super tiny. Depending on your client’s needs and capacity, they can include:
- Practice speaking up for themselves with a friend
- Setting clear personal boundaries with someone non-threatening, like a sales clerk
- Making eye contact when it feels uncomfortable
- Small talk to a stranger in a safe environment, like the grocery store
- Making a phone call they’ve been avoiding
- Returning their coffee when it’s not the one they ordered
Small first steps can be pretty much anything, as long as they help your client see they’re capable of doing something they thought they couldn’t.
Fearless Coaching tip: The smaller the actions, the better. Most coaches make the error of focusing on big goals, big dreams, big steps. The big forward movement will happen naturally once your client gets more confidence under their belt. My clients usually go from feeling frozen to making leaps within weeks because they’ve radically changed their perceptions of who they are with every (small) risk they take.
Then, your role as a coach is to anchor the confidence they gain through acknowledging these small victories.
Recognizing the progress they’re making helps your clients be more confident. People with low self-confidence tend to underestimate their value. By practicing acknowledgments, they begin to understand and appreciate the small steps they’re taking in order to grow.
In psychology, this technique is called positive reinforcement. It draws on the fact that when a behavior is rewarded, it tends to be repeated. That’s why acknowledging your clients is a huge help for them.
Being rewarded for the steps they’re making enables them to make more of them. With time, they will become experts at acknowledging themselves and won’t just depend on you. As they build momentum, they also gain more confidence.
Fearless Coaching tip: The real reason we spend time educating our clients on how to acknowledge themselves is because every acknowledgment a client writes down becomes a diary of proof, proof that they did change, that they did do it. As humans, we forget the hard work we’ve accomplished and focus on what we didn’t do and what’s left to do. Life Coaches become the guide, the witness to their change, as does their list of acknowledgments. As their acknowledgment list grows, so will their confidence.
Apart from formal skills, certain personal qualities can make a Confidence Coach more effective. However, many people mistakenly believe that to coach others, you need to have an unshakable sense of confidence yourself.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you’ve struggled with confidence and self-esteem issues, this may actually make you a better coach. You’ll understand your client’s frustrations more easily because you’ve been there, too.
I doubt I would be so successful in coaching Linda if I hadn’t been through my share of struggles. Due to my lifelong low self-esteem, which arose from trauma, I could better understand where she was coming from. I had more compassion and no judgments about the state of her life. With time, we identified that she’d been through some traumatic experiences too.
Confidence coaching clients look for someone they can relate and open up to. As a Confidence Coach, you don’t want to just be a cold professional. You also need to be human. This means sharing your own vulnerability and imperfection. This means admitting that you, too, used to struggle with confidence—but found a way out.
That’s how your clients start to trust you. They know you won’t judge them because they know you know exactly what they’re going through.
Fearless Coaching Tip: Your clients do not need trauma to have confidence issues, so don’t go looking for trauma to validate the reason your client’s confidence is down. Focus on moving them forward, not looking backward.
How to Become a Confidence Coach
I could speak about confidence coaching for hours, but the bottom line would remain the same:
Coaching people to be more confident comes down to helping them understand, process, and overcome their core fear.
Confidence isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the ability to act despite it because you know the risk is worth it—and you are 100% worth it. It’s knowing how to move towards the desired direction while accepting that it won’t always feel easy.
While many Life Coaches can help with that, Certified Fearless Living Coaches are suited particularly well to this task. In our Life Coaching Certification Program, we concentrate on working with fear as the underlying obstacle to everything in life. Confidence coaching through this framework proves to be very effective.
Not sure if this is the right training for you? No pressure. You can take our short questionnaire to find out. After you do, schedule a free call with one of our Coaches, who will help you determine if LCCP is a good fit.