Self confidence is an important aspect of leadership and management.
Without it, you will be a less effective leader.
Why Self Confidence Matters For Leaders
When you build self confidence, you start to back yourself. You start to believe that you’re capable. You start to believe that you are worth it, and that you know what you are talking about.
The result of all this self confidence means:
- You make better decisions, because you stop second-guessing yourself
- You build trust, because people around you think you have everything under control; and
- You are more likely to speak up when people around you are too scared to do it.
But What If You Don’t Feel Confident?
Self confidence is great. But what if you don’t feel confident?
Luckily, it’s not just genetics that make us confident. We can build self confidence, according to a survey by Helen Lerner, creator of WomenWorking.com. Helen found that in a survey of 500 female Executives, less than one percent thought confidence was a matter of genetics alone.
Now, let’s look at some ways that leaders can build self confidence.
How to Build Self Confidence
1. Build self confidence by keeping track of your accomplishments
Remember that time you overcame that big problem? What about when you had a really difficult stakeholder and you won him over? Or how about when you helped one of your team members build their skills to get their dream job?
You get the picture. Keep track of your accomplishments and good feedback you receive, so that you can revisit them when times are tough.
This will help you be able to say:
“Hey! I’ve succeeded before. I can do it again!”
2. Build self confidence by getting out of your comfort zone
When you spend most of your time feeling comfortable and safe, you can feel incredibly exposed when something doesn’t go quite to plan.
But when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, you start to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Once you are comfortable with the unknown and the uncertain, problems generally become easier to overcome, and are less stressful.
To get out of your comfort zone, you simply need to do things you haven’t done before. Go on a public speaking course, go to a networking event or take on that difficult project.
Do whatever will stretch those comfortable boundaries.
Personally, the best thing I ever did for my life, leadership and career was live overseas for a year, where I knew nobody, in a non-English speaking country. I had to start from scratch. When I succeeded at that, I built a tremendous amount of confidence.
3. Find a sounding board to help you work through a problem or decision
We all need a sounding board. Somebody we can talk to and bounce ideas off, to check our thinking and get advice.
This could be a coach, mentor or someone from your personal network who is not directly involved with the situation you want to discuss.
This helps us to check our ideas, and answer the following important question:
“Am I crazy? Or am I on the right track?”
Having a sounding board helps us build self confidence because we aren’t just listening to our own internal voice all the time. We have another reference point.
4. Build self confidence by letting go of trying to know it all
If you think you need to know everything in your team, you’re in trouble.
Leaders don’t know everything, and they shouldn’t try to. Instead, they should delegate responsibility to those who are best placed to succeed.
Leaders who think they need to know everything will come unstuck, because they:
- Don’t ask questions, because they think they’ll look stupid
- Micromanage their teams, because they think they should know best (micromanagement doesn’t work)
- Attack others, to try to deflect the spotlight from themselves.
Relax. Ask those questions to help you understand. Let go of trying to know it all.
5. Build self confidence by understanding your leadership weaknesses
Finally, it can be a mistake to shy away from understanding your leadership weaknesses. Instead of trying to hide them away, embrace them.
When you understand your own leadership weaknesses, you can work with your team to minimise their impact. You will build self confidence, because you will start to feel less exposed.
Your instinct will be to avoid your weaknesses, but embracing them will lead you to a more positive outcome, for you and your team.
6. Start building your network
Networking is something that many leaders overlook, especially during the good times. We become complacent and relax. We don’t need our network as much when everything is fine.
Until something bad happens. And you might need that network to find your next job, or to get some advice from an experienced former colleague.
When you have a strong network, you have resources to draw upon when you need them. This will build self confidence, because you will feel less like you are going it alone.
How do you build self confidence? Tell me your stories in the comments below!