“Without confidence your leadership is obsolete.”
As audacious as that statement sounds, it is true. John Maxwell correctly acknowledges that, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
People won’t buy into someone’s vision who lacks confidence. If a leader doesn’t have confidence in themselves, then why should anyone else?
Happily, confidence is a soft skill that can be learned.
Here’s the key:
Confidence increases in proportion to lack of fear.
What do leaders fear? Take a look at this list and note those things that cause your stomach to churn and your brow to furrow:
Not knowing an answer
Receiving negative feedback
Making tough decisions
Being around people who know more than you
*Insert your personal fear here*
The good news is confidence can overcome these real fears.
Here are two practical tips to gaining confidence:
Confident leaders are comfortable with uncertainty
It is impossible to know what is coming to be fully prepared, but to know you can pivot and be flexible for pretty much anything gives extreme confidence. How do you do that? You internalize these facts:
No one can know everything (even in their specialty) and therefore neither can you.
Everything everyone knows had to be learned, which means you can learn it too.
Why is this comforting? Because these two facts demonstrate that everyone is on the same playing field. You are not less than or below anyone, and neither are you above others. For example, if entering a meeting where you are likely to receive negative feedback or obtuse questions, even if it’s from “higher ups,” there is no reason to be ashamed by not knowing how to respond. It’s important to always be prepared to use the one-two punch: (1) I don’t know and (2) I’ll look into that. It is freeing to say you don’t know when you don’t. Plus, it’s almost impossible to have a positive outcome from a conversation not knowing what you’re talking about. Make a note about what you need to look into and who you need to respond to. This leads to the next point.
Become an avid note taker
People feel heard when the person they are talking to writes things down. Feeling heard creates a level of trust, which increases confidence in the trusted person. If you’re not good at taking notes (it is a skill), find someone who is and ask them to send notes to you as a calendar invite so you have time to work through the topic at hand.
Schedule time in your calendar to consistently review your notes. If you don’t, you will not follow up on what you said you would and lose the potential connection with those who asked.
This process of writing things down, looking into the topic, and then following up not only makes you look competent, but it also increases your confidence.
What do both of these tips lead to? Learning. Continual learning dispels fear and grows confidence.