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Humble Confidence with Sobiya Jawaid

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. Confidence and humility are often perceived as opposites and even as conflicting to each other. However, is there a middle ground between these two paradoxes? Can we have it all? Executive Coach Sobiya Jawaid thinks that we indeed can, and she has worked out just the right ingredients to making the potion of Humble Confidence a virtue we should all be embracing and cultivating.

Q: What is Humble Confidence?

Humble Confidence moves away from the conventional concept of confidence in which there is an excessive focus on yourself and your positive qualities to one that is more aligned and balanced.

Humble confidence consist of a range of different factors that are often interlinked. Some examples are:

1. Embracing your strengths, qualities and accomplishments.

Having crystal clarity on these is integral in identifying your zone of genius and areas in which you are most successful. It is important to be aware of your positive attributes without excess or arrogance.

2. Being aware of your limitations.

Perfection does not exist and giving yourself permission to make mistakes and recognise your limitations is liberating. It enables you to use the areas in which you have limitations to grow, develop and learn.

3. Encourage ‘teachability’ and learning.

Human fallibility and dependence are accepted and met with empathy. No person has the answers to everything. Having kindness and understanding for yourself creates a safe space for you to learn, grow and develop.

4. Taking on feedback to improve, grow and develop without experiencing a significant ego threat.

Feedback is not criticism or a personal attack. It is an ideal opportunity to enrich the vast skills and strengths that you have, diversify your thinking and become a better version of yourself.

5. Belief that something greater than the self exists (transcendence).

Adopt a stance of egalitarianism and increasing self-awareness provides a freedom that you don’t always have to be in control or have the answers to everything. Ultimately, there is a higher power in play.

Q: What does it look like to exhibit Humble Confidence as a leader?

As a leader it is very easy to adopt the stance of superiority or servility in communication and behaviour towards others. A Humble Confident leader will adopt a stance of egalitarianism. They will value contributions from all and encourage interdependence, collaborative behaviours, information‐sharing and joint decision making. A Humble Confident leader encourages excellence and has awareness of their own strengths, skills and successes as well as those of the team. They nurture an empathetic and understanding culture in which human fallibility and dependence is seen as an opportunity for learning and development, progress and innovation. Feedback is encouraged, embraced and used as a basis for growth and development.

Q: How can I check in with myself whether I exhibit Humble Confidence instead of arrogance or self-depriciation?

In the first instance, it is important to be transparent and honest: Do you have the willingness to see yourself accurately?

Having an excessive focus on yourself and your positive qualities, as well as displaying superiority in your communication and behaviour towards others, moves you towards arrogance. An excessive focus on your negative thoughts and behaviours as well as excessive servility towards others takes you to the other extreme.

To check-in with yourself to see if you exhibit Humble Confidence, ask yourself these questions:

· Do I embrace my strengths, qualities and achievements?

· Do I continually learn and enhance my skills and knowledge?

· Am I willing to admit my mistakes and limitations without experiencing a significant ego threat?

· Do I take on feedback and use it to learn, grow and develop?

· Am I someone who appreciates others’ strengths and contributions?

· Am I someone who has a focus on a transcendent self‐view that something greater than the self exists?

The more you answered ‘Yes’ the more you exhibit a Humble Confident individual.

Q: Can Humble Confidence be the response for people who feel like imposters?

Imposter Syndrome often affects high-achieving people who struggle to accept their accomplishments. They question and doubt their strengths, skills and talents and think they succeed due to luck.

The response to dealing with Imposter Syndrome is to consciously get better at managing and challenging those thoughts using powerful strategies such as NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). As a Leadership Coach I often combine them with coaching to help my clients deal with this issue.

Parts of Humble Confidence can be used as a response to those who feel like imposters e.g. consciously being aware of strengths, skills and accomplishments. However, there are other areas that have to be considered on a deeper level when dealing with Imposter Syndrome.

Q: As a leader, how can I cultivate my Humble Confidence daily?

Three ways in which you can begin cultivating Humble Confidence are:

1. Take time out to consciously recognise your strengths, accomplishments and achievements, and write/journal them daily at the end or beginning of the day.

2. Be open-minded about your mistakes and limitations. Take actions to learn, improve and grow.

3. Be kind to yourself and embrace a transcendent self-view. There is a higher power that is taking care of things. You do not need to have all the answers – you can only do your best.


Follow and engage with Sobiya’s work:

Website: Instagram: @sobiya_jawaid

Sobiya’s LinkedIn profile:



*Originally published in SOCIALight Magazine Conscious Growth column Issue 18. Link


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