Confident Work Cultures That Begin With You

September: Career Kick-Start Month.

A fabulous guest post from the highly-experienced, work-culture expert Kerry Tottingham on the important role that confidence plays in organisational culture.

The organisational culture is an important aspect of work, one that you can contribute to, shape and influence from day one… just as you are.

Kerry Tottingham; Brilliant Thing Culture Coach

Starting a new job?  Taking your first steps in a new career, or joining a new organisation? 

It’s easy to believe that along with learning the new job, you will need to fit in and be confident in your role from the start. Often we mask our uncertainty, try to fit in, stay small, and think that when we have learnt the ropes, then we can let our personalities show. 

If confidence at work is all about knowing what to do, believing in our skills and trusting ourselves, what do we do when our knowledge, skills and capabilities are still developing?

“When a new person joins a team, there are subtle adjustments to the way people behave, work, speak and act.  These small changes can fine-tune a culture or recalibrate it entirely..”

Kerry Tottingham

This set of beliefs overlooks an important aspect of work, one that you can contribute to, shape and influence from day one, just as you are…. the organisational culture.

What is Organisational Culture?

Organisational culture is the values, beliefs and norms that exist within a team or organisation and it is communicated through small actions.  

  • A company culture that values communication may hold multiple team sessions and 1:1 meetings to share and collaborate.
  • A company culture that welcomes diversity might routinely seek different perspectives on work issues from a range of people with different experiences.

The interesting thing about a culture is it is everchanging and shifting because it is created and held by the people involved.  When a new person joins a team, there are subtle adjustments to the way people behave, work, speak and act.  These small changes can fine-tune a culture or recalibrate it entirely, depending on the person and their position.  A new team member can be ‘like a breath of fresh air’.

Find Your Deeper Confidence

This is where you, your personality, personal qualities, strengths, skills and perspectives all come in.  These are elements of yourself that you already have, they will of course develop over time but right now, you are the person who was selected at interview, just as you are.  

I encourage you to find confidence in this deeper inner knowledge. 

When we bring our whole selves to work, we also bring an honesty about who we are and who we are not (or not yet). Our whole selves includes our skills but also goes deeper.


“I’m good at facilitating workshops and my listening, empathy and clear communication helps people feel at ease and open to collaborating

This provides a richer picture of who I am, rather than saying..

“ I am skilled at running workshops”. 

Show, don’t just tell!

Sometimes we have the opportunity to verbally describe who we are but more often who we are shows up in our actions. We can find ways to demonstrate and share our personal qualities and personalities at work through how we interact with people. 

photo of people having meeting

For example: a good communicator  might take a lengthy document, read and glean key points and share these with colleagues. Whereas someone who values collaboration, might suggest everyone reads the document and then holds a discussion to work out key messages together.

Understanding of our personal strengths provides valuable knowledge and confidence we can bring to our roles.

An authentic approach to starting a new role, means we can confidently show up and share our ideas but can also say ‘I don’t know’ and request support when we need it. This shows others you are open to discovering more, and contributes to a learning culture by demonstrating it is okay not to have all the answers. We are all growing and learning all the time. 

 “I don’t know” communicates your own intellectual curiosity and your intellectual humility.

Psychology Today

What about everyone else?

So showing up authentically gives confidence at work, but what about everyone else? Others can impact on our confidence through what they say and do.

The social culture of a work environment shapes how we work together and collaborate. Being able to interpret what people say and do, without immediately connecting them to our own insecurities, is a powerful approach to learn.

First day of a new job?

Handy tips…

  • Be open and aware, gather insights as you enter a workspace. 
  • Notice your colleagues, the relationships and interactions around you. 
  • Listen. Listen harder to people with different experiences to you.
  • Share your own perspectives.
  • Consider how the actions you take, what you say and do, align with who you are 

This open and sensitive approach allows you to understand, shape and contribute to the culture you are becoming part of, with inner confidence.

Kerry Tottingham

To hear more from Kerry, join us on our live webinar at 12:00 on 27th September. Contact us for more details.

Kerry runs Brilliant Thing, which is a coaching and design-thinking practice.

She focuses on connecting strategy and culture to develop purposeful, valuable teams that produce brilliant results. Brilliant Thing works with charities, public sector teams and companies with social aims, to navigate change, avoid burnout and build brilliant organisations from the inside out.

Career Kick-Start Month..

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The Gift of Confidence

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Career Kick-Start Month: Let’s look at the areas of career confidence that we CAN control so that we can put our best selves forward and thrive at work. We cover your capability, the level of risk & reward and your capacity.

September Career Kick-Start

September is a time of year for new starts. It’s not just the new academic year, this month is also a time when many people start a new career or begin the transition into a new phase of their professional life. So we’re dedicating the whole month of September to helping you kick-start your career.

Published by Kelly Whalley

Co-Founder of Find Your Wings. Mentor, digital marketing expert, H.E.A.L.T.H.Y career creator and consultant, on the side of being a mum of two.

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