Confidence is leadership’s handmaid. In service to leadership, it positively impacts our problem-solving, decision-making, coaching and communication. Still, it is natural to lose our confidence from time to time.
As leaders, we must exile doubt and remove obstacles in order to be high performers, not just high achievers. We must achieve high performance consistently over time, because the people we influence look to us to translate the vision, inspire, innovate and — of course — lead.
When our confidence wavers, it often means that we have forgotten what’s true about ourselves — who we really are. We need to find cheerleaders and supporters who can remind us of who we are,”; so we can get out of our own way.
Keeping and building confidence is a formidable charge. Being in a demanding leadership role, serving others and consistently adding value begs the task of enlisting help from people who believe in us. They will remind us of who we are. The higher we climb, the easier it is to ask, “Who am I? Am I good enough?”
Upon finding our biggest champions, each of us can explore the following four areas to continue building the foundation upon which our confidence is built.
1. Build Capacity Within Your Competence
Once we know we have a talent or skill, we can turn them into capabilities. Over time, this approach helps us build capacity within our competence, which means that, instead of devouring more and more to gather breadth in a topic or skill set, we go deep. Building confidence doesn’t always look like adding more and more content, books and courses; it looks like doing a deeper dive into the knowledge and competence we already possess.
2. Demonstrate Courage
It stands halfway between cowardice and crazy but is necessary to build and rebuild confidence. And while we don’t need confidence to be courageous, confidence requires courage for us to act without knowing the outcome. Our self-efficacy enables us to believe in ourselves and our ability enough to behave in alignment with our values. Our confidence empowers us to stand up for what we believe and perform courageous acts in and out of the workplace.
3. Take Calculated Risks
Cutting once and measuring twice is a lost art form in today’s “hurry up, right now” society. We shouldn’t shoot from the hip, but we also shouldn’t bury our head in the sand due to a fear of mistakes and errors. Taking calculated risks requires us to balance emotion with facts, examine the bottom line and evaluate our next steps with a critical eye. In the face of fear and uncertainty, we build resilience by taking risks, thereby cultivating confidence.
4. Seek Wise Counsel
Feedback is our friend, but, as we navigate the corporate jungle gym and garner more experience, advice is our significant other. The advice and wise counsel of the people we trust to tell us the truth is indispensable. We have a wealth of experiences to juxtapose the advice against in order to make an even better decision than with feedback alone.
Confidence is a leader’s “best friend forever” (BFF). As Harvard Business Review editor Amy Gallo writes in an article on building confidence, “Very few people succeed in business without a degree of confidence.”
Self-confidence is necessary for leaders to take risks and accomplish goals. We must identify what drives us and evolve and transform in order to build confidence and rebuild it when it takes a hit. Our confidence will fuel our motivation and foster our persistence.