Competence breeds confidence

If you’re like most leaders, you’ve felt anxious and unconfident at some point in your career — or, to be honest, numerous times. Perhaps your team failed to meet a goal, or you were concerned that you would fall short of expectations in your new position. Many of the thoughts that went through your head will be familiar to many: «Am I the right person for this job?»; «Do I have what it takes?»; «What if I can’t deliver?»

These are natural thoughts. However, if unaddressed, frequent feelings of inadequacy will have an impact on your ability to reach your full potential. «Ducking the facts about performance for fear of being judged, criticised, humiliated, and punished characterises losing streaks, not winning streaks,» leadership expert Rosabeth Moss-Kanter argues in her famous book «Confidence.» So, how can you ensure you are the confident leader your team requires when plans do not go as planned, results are not achieved, or uncertainty makes you anxious?

Increasing Self-Awareness

Leaders are human, and no person is capable of knowing everything. You don’t have to know everything to be a confident leader. You must, however, be eager to learn.

Begin by learning to recognise when you are confident and when you are not. When you are feeling confident, you may give your experience, question conventional thinking at a strategy meeting, and freely elicit input from team members. When you are less confident, you may be hesitant to speak out in meetings, agree with the majority position despite misgivings, and retreat to your office to avoid tough confrontations.

In both circumstances, ask yourself, «Why?» Don’t settle for the first answer! Instead, inquire three or four times more to determine the source of your confidence or unease. If you are truthful with yourself, you will undoubtedly draw on your talents and limitations.

As a leader, your responsibility is to enable each team member to use their talents and experiences to reach a common objective. As with any high-performing team, there will be team members whose skill sets exceed yours — this does not indicate inadequacy on your part, but rather reflects on your ability to put together the best team possible. If you’re having trouble identifying your skills as a leader, consider what others come to you for help with. Furthermore, don’t be afraid to ask your coworkers how you can improve. People around us frequently notice our strengths before we do.

Expect Success. Understand When You Don’t

Your leadership and professional experiences will always be distinguished by ups and downs. What matters is the attitude you bring to each scenario. Did you miss a shot? Don’t bemoan it, but find out why with your coworkers. Better yet, solicit ongoing feedback. If you ask «why?» five times, you will get at least one response that will assist you avoid getting off track the following time. Be a role model for your team members and peers by communicating openly with them.

The days of managers being expected to know everything are long gone. Anyone who pretends to do so will only embarrass themselves. You gain the respect of others by improving your knowledge whenever possible and by efficiently integrating the abilities of team members to achieve common goals. Effective leaders nowadays are more akin to facilitators. They are aware of current strengths and flaws; they aim to strengthen the former while addressing the latter — not by pointing fingers but by devising a strategy for progress.

Don’t Be Too Critical of Yourself

Many leaders suffer from impostor syndrome, which makes them feel like a fake despite their exterior success. In a time of rapid change, leaders can easily feel helpless and inept at addressing the many moving parts they must manage. Feeling overwhelmed, on the other hand, may merely suggest a lack of concentration. It requires determination to keep on track when confronted with opposing viewpoints and rapidly shifting trends.

«I think we should come out as the flawed human beings that we all actually are,» author Rita Clifton says in her book «Love Your Imposter.» Clifton believes that performing professionally does not require you to give up the empathic, sensitive, and quirky qualities of your personality that make you distinctive.

Instead of depending simply on your instincts, use the collective expertise of your team to propel you ahead. Take use of team members’ abilities and expertise that you may not have. Before making a choice, gather as many viewpoints as possible. Create the psychological safety that your team requires to be vulnerable and openly share their opinions. Bring out the best in those you lead so that they can make you the best leader possible.


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