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5 Simple Steps to Be a Super-Confident Leader

5 Simple Steps to Be a Super-Confident Leader
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Building confidence isn't always easy, especially if you have low self-esteem to begin with. In the dating world, the simplest thing can be the most difficult of tasks, like saying hello to someone. But as an entrepreneur and leader, confidence isn't a choice. It's necessary for growing success.

Confidence isn't a tactical thing. It's an emotion. Just like any emotion -- happiness, sadness, anger, etc. -- it can be triggered and groomed, almost on-demand, through physical action. So in order to achieve that high level of confidence to push through the challenges and growing pains of running a business, here are things you must do:

1. Plan ahead while leaving room for spontaneity.
In dating, while strategies for how you'll meet potential dates are keys to increasing confidence, being aware of and open to inevitably unexpected opportunities can boost your confidence in spontaneity.

While your business needs a plan for both the short-term and long-term, the best thing about entrepreneurship is spontaneity. When you leave room for the unknown, you open yourself up to new possibilities that may be perfect for taking your business to the next level.

Related: 7 Ways to Be a Confident, Rock Star Leader

2. Listen before you speak.
I teach my clients the concept of "active listening," which is the key to carrying fun, engaging conversations that attract people around you without having to say much. How it works is simple: ask open-ended questions. After all, the point of conversation is to relate to someone. But the important part is listening to the answers. If you're not listening, you're not connecting.

Any answer someone gives you will contain bits of information called "hooks," golden nuggets waiting for you to use to relate to that person. In a world where distractions are all around, doing this effectively can show you are not only listening but also care about what the person is saying and enhancing the connection.

3. Pay attention to appearance.
When you're out mingling with potential dates, how you dress and groom yourself can account for up to 25 percent of your overall presentation and is an easy way to positively stand out. The same is true in business.

Just because you may not be pitching an angel investor or VC everyday doesn't mean it's acceptable to look like a mess. You never know who you'll meet at any given moment and it's pivotal for your confidence to know you're looking good. You don't have to wear a suit, but even tech billionaire Mark Cuban does from time to time, even though he's not a fan.

Related: Confidence, Excellence and Independence: Business Lessons From 4 Great Leaders

4. Exercise.
A healthy body is a healthy mind, whether in the dating or business world. Spend 10 to 30 minutes each day keeping your body in shape. It can improve everything from your posture and body language to your self-esteem and decision-making -- especially during the most stress-induced situations. The endorphins you produce can not only build your confidence but also project it for others to see.

Achieving workout goals can give you a sense of accomplishment -- momentum that can easily transfer to other aspects of your life. If you need a quick pump of adrenaline before an important meeting, working out just prior can provide the pop you're looking for.

5. Make sure to smile.
When I coach my clients on effective introductions, the first and last thing I say to them is to smile. Amy Cuddy, a social psychologist, gave a TED talk on how your body language can not only change how others see you but also how you see yourself. The easiest thing you can do to feel confident is smile, especially when your self-esteem is low. Even in the most strenuous of circumstances, smiling can put everyone around you -- including yourself -- at ease. Then, you're in a position of influence to make decisions people will trust.

Those who are the boldest and most confident may be the ones who get the dates and live an awesome social life, but they can also secure the meetings and the next greatest business deal. Make sure it's you, not your competition.

Related: Startup Entrepreneurs Have Confidence. Duh.

The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Thomas Edwards is a social strategist and founder of Confidence Unchained, an executive coaching firm with consultancies in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

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