I mentor and coach a number of leaders in business, new managers and new owners. Often what comes up is the person’s lack of confidence in their role. One or two have even asked, “Am I a fraud?” Let’s look at how to build your confidence to become a great leader.
Tips to Build Leadership Confidence:
A bit of an honest self-review is beneficial. What are you good at? What could you work more to improve? Understanding yourself is probably the first step. Don’t be critical in this process or ‘tough on yourself’. For your strengths, how can you utilise these more? Great leaders are not always those who are strong, make powerful decisions and derive a massive salary. Some leaders have a social consciousness, believe in governance or perhaps have a passion around community. In my view a leader is balanced; having traits of strengths tempered with understanding and compassion.
Learn, Study & Develop
All good leaders are constantly on the prowl for knowledge and self-improvement. If you identified weaknesses, it may be suitable to work on them. Do you lack an area of experience, some knowledge or skill in a required area? Embark on personal and professional development not only to improve you but also to set an example to those you lead. The person (especially leader) who says “I know it all” has a very limited lifespan as a leader. The business world is constantly (and at the speed of light) changing; technology, marketing, innovation change daily and even if you have amazing people around you who understand and are even experts in these fields, you need to have a basic current understanding in order to lead those people, ask the right questions and generally be confident in conversing and working with them.
What are your priorities – where does your heart lay?
Every leader is different, but as leaders, they should have an understanding of what is important to them and why. They should know what they are passionate about. Why are you a leader (or striving to become a leader)? I believe having a desire for money is not a bad thing, but I equally believe you have to be motivated by more than money. A good leader wants to see the business and its people do well (which in turn usually means the leaders do well). Know your priorities and your ‘why’ so that you can understand your direction and motivation in doing what you do. Knowing yourself helps you to achieve confidence in everything you do.
Perception – Critical Perception
Whilst I was tempted to lead with this, I resisted. I cannot stress enough the power of perception. Perception is everything. It’s what we say, what we write, how we look, how we make others feels, our listing achievements, how we handle failure and so much more. If a business gets a bad review, how that review is handled is far more powerful than the actual negative review. People do judge a book by its cover. If you don’t take pride in your appearance, do you take pride in your work? How you present yourself will also lead to confidence. If you look good and stand with your head tall – then you’re already a step ahead. Certainly, you must follow through with the right words and actions – but at least you’ve started on the right foot.
Be a ‘Boy Scout’
The Boy Scouts’ motto is ‘be prepared’. A good leader is always prepared. When you walk into a meeting you already know the agenda, who will be present and have some dot points prepared. If you are likely to be expected to speak, you will have something pre-prepared. You may well just stand up and speak, but you will have given thought and prep to the message beforehand. I used to be the Ambassador of a Business group where we would have guest presenters. At times, those presenters would be a ‘no show’ and I’d have to fill in a 20-minute segment with something. I always had a presentation on hand, in order to fill that spot should it ever be needed. It appeared “off the cuff” but deliberately demonstrated knowledge and expertise and improved my profile.
New leaders, especially those who have been internally promoted, are often worried about friendships or wanting to be everyone’s mate. A good leader will worry about earning people’s respect and making fair and just decisions which are for the betterment of the majority. Be known as fair, honest, truthful and do what you say you will do (keep promises) and earn the respect of those around you. Leadership is not a popularity contest.
Step outside your comfort zone.
Who loves to speak in front of 300 people? Many don’t but that represents such an opportunity. If you are uncomfortable doing public speaking or perhaps selling, then get training and practice in these areas. Practice makes for perfect and when we are good at what we do, we are far more confident.
Take calculated risks
I’m not a fan of uncalculated risk or risk which does not have thought, research, or due diligence behind it. We do, at times, need to take some risks (and yes, step outside our comfort zone) but also temper that with research, preparedness and careful investigation.
Own your mistakes
It’s often good to share with your team your logic behind a decision. In some ways, you are teaching them in order that they can become leaders themselves in time. However, we all make mistakes. Even if a team member made that mistake, the buck stops at you, the leader. You should take ownership of that mistake. Find a solution, rectify and work on strategies to ensure the mistake is not duplicated. Never ever blame a subordinate for a mistake. Blame is not a trait of a good leader. Respect from your team will grow your confidence.
I don’t believe any good leader has been described as a procrastinator. Procrastination is often a representation of fear. You are not ready, not prepared, not sure or not on board. Leaders take action but as I said before think through, plan and prepare for your action as then it’s more likely to be the right action. Making good choices always builds our confidence.
For leaders, professionals and business owners I am a big fan of LinkedIn. A well-written and quality profile will build your confidence, improve your perception and help you get seen for the right reasons. People engaging with you via LinkedIn will lead to opportunities for you and the business. Just remember a few things: ensure your photo is professionally taken (not a selfie from the last party). Ensure also your profile is a combination of selling you, sharing your strengths and sharing your passion. Finally, ensure someone proofreads it. I don’t care whether you build dog houses or build hearts – your online profiles should be grammatically correct with accurate spelling. Once your profile is built, start connecting with people and building your network.
Find a Mentor
Yes, this is what I do – coach and mentor leaders and business owners. But regardless of who you choose, it’s always helpful to have a mentor. This person might be a senior person in your company, they may be a friend or relative you know has good experience with what you do, they might be someone else in business who you respect and admire or someone who was in your role at some point but now retired. Whoever the person; be clear about the terms of them mentoring you – free, for a fee, confidential, random, monthly etc. Open communication is always important, but equally so must be trust, so be clear about the terms of the arrangement.
If you’d like to know more about my own leadership mentoring services click here or call me on 0411 622 666.