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How do senior professionals excel?

In your professional life, as you have come up the ranks or aspire to do so, what sets the best senior professionals or business leaders apart from the others? Imagine for a moment, who inspires you.

In a recent meeting I had with a very polished equity partner, this highly skilled and financially well rewarded individual still mentioned the word “confidence.” I’ve long learnt not to assume that with seniority confidence comes automatically. It doesn’t.

Just as you do throughout your career, this person was facing something new, a fresh challenge, a business related requirement to be excellent and so on. This partner was touching on a new opportunity that really mattered. The importance of this led this person to want to be the very best of their self. It indirectly led to feelings of potentially being “not good enough.”

The word “confidence” didn’t arise immediately, rather it was as I challenged this partner in what was getting in the way directly or indirectly. When things get in the way of the outcomes you want, it leads to unhelpful behaviours such as avoidance, procrastination, poor planning, lack of clarity and focus, indecision or wrong decision and so on. You may have a plan or a strategy coupled with a deadline. Understanding why confidence can get hit at any stage of your career can help. Those senior professionals who are willing to understand themselves better excel; they unleash more potential, more quickly and coaching is just one methodology that supports this awareness with tools to build confidence.

Senior professionals are typically assumed to have the answers, to always be focused and to be confident in all that they do. Yet, as studies show, CEOs and senior leaders are some of the most lonely and often (over 60%) feel they have to curb their emotions at work. Senior professionals also consume the external expectation that they should know it all and do not want to be seen as vulnerable or unsuitable for the privileged role they hold. This means the pressure can be both externally and internally generated and exasperated. They thereby build upon their own stress, and potentially negative emotions (that can include anger and fear) are left unmanaged. You only have to imagine a past experience with an angry person to know something was not right.

This is not to say that stress cannot be helpful to get things done within a timescale but greater awareness around its level and how this is playing out can make potentially stressful situations much easier to manage.

This client of mine is just one senior professional who’s mentioned the word “confidence” and it’s important to accept that, as human beings, we are not perfect. Others, if not all, also do and move forward to excel.

There are great leaders and partners but none is immune to new pressures. It may be that you enjoy a promotion and feel ecstatic initially and then worry kicks in as to how you’ll fit in or how you’ll be placed against the existing senior team. Largely, people do not want to look stupid.

What is possible is to open up your mind to explore where any sense of fear, stress or lack is stemming from. You’ll know those mental or physical sensations that surface and that you try to resist.

Even as adults, you all have experienced one or all of these emotions at some point. It’s not necessary to ruminate on the origins but exploring this helps to understand your current approaches to stress or emotional management (if any) and to build impactful steps that elevate you to a place of greater resilience and productivity, leading to greater confidence, motivation, helpful behaviour changes and improved communication in personal and work based relationships. It helps you to excel.

It leads to greater performance, communication, interaction and morale for you and your teams.

Anita Gohil-Thorp, Founder and Coach

Next time there is a nudge querying your confidence, stop and pause. Consider what this is telling you and listen to it. If you discover you’d like to explore it with a strategic plan to move forward from it and strengthen your resilience with ease, contact me at or check out the website

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