As leaders, we know we don’t have the answer for everything, and there will be times when we’re more unsure than others. What our team are looking for isn’t that we know everything, it is that we’re confident we can find the answer from somewhere.
Here are 6 things you can do that will help build your confidence and for others to have confidence in you.
You’re going to have a different opinion than others at some point. And people will disagree with you. When they do, if you lack confidence, then a common reaction to the first is not to speak up, and the second is to feel defensive. Alternatively, stay curious. Wonder what is it that this person sees different to you. What data might they be in possession of that if you knew that, you might have a different opinion too. Equally, if you’re not speaking up, ask yourself what data you have that the other person might not be aware of and share.
When you lack confidence or are uncertain, you tend to hang on to things that you should be delegating. That way, you don’t show your vulnerability, and you get to stay in control. If you’re doing your job right, there will be someone in the team who you could still delegate to and share the concerns you have. It stops you micromanaging; and here are 5 reasons to stop micromanaging. Also, make sure you aren’t using these crazing excuses not to delegate either.
Seek feedback of all kinds.
Feedback isn’t just what didn’t work. It’s also what went well. To increase your confidence, ask for input from a variety of sources. Again when we lack confidence, we tend to seek feedback from those we think will say what we expect, or just plain be kind to us. In case they don’t know how to give feedback ask them:-
What did I do well?
What can I do better?
What can I do differently / stop doing?
That way, you find out what you can still work on developing, and you also become aware of where you’re already succeeding. Nothing erodes confidence faster than just being told what didn’t work. Nor does hearing what we expect to build our confidence too. We’re bright enough to know we’re tricking ourselves. The thing is while I’ve called it feedback; in many cases, it is someone’s opinion, which means it can come with flaws. Here is an excellent article in Harvard Business Review that discussions the distortion in feedback.
Give credit and share the limelight.
When a leader lacks confidence, they take credit for others work or ideas. They can also struggle to share the spotlight for fear that others may be noticed or share ideas. This behaviour is usually done, so they appear valuable or required. You’ll notice confident leaders use we, the team, our, more than me, I. They praise, give credit, shine a light on other people. The more you do this; the more people enjoy working with you and the more likely they are to contribute great ideas and excellent work. I enjoyed reading Abby Wambach’s book Wolfpack; there are some great stories that beautifully illustrate working together.
Confident leaders ask questions and listen to the answers. They happily ask for help and support. They know this is a route to continuing their growth and learning, which leads to an increase in confidence. Read our post on 6 ways to improve your questioning skills.
Admit to mistakes.
Insecure leaders want to protect themselves and so being vulnerable and either owning mistakes or sharing their failures is far too scary. Confident leaders are big enough to admit to their mistakes and intelligent enough to correct them. It’s not all perfection and success. If that’s all that was shared, then people benchmark their leadership against something unreal. This causes the thought “I’m experiencing x, this doesn’t appear normal, I’m doing something wrong.” When I’m helping leaders expand into their full potential, I will share stories of my mistakes and weaknesses. And the relief on their face as they realise they are normal and they’re doing better than they thought.
There will be times when you’re uncertain, feel insecure and lack confidence, check it’s not impacting your ability to lead, or endangering the retention of valuable staff. If you want to strengthen your leadership, so others have increased confidence in you, then working with a coach/mentor can be a worthwhile investment.