Building Your Leadership Confidence.
Ah – out of the mouths of babes…come leadership lessons to be learned! Our 10 year old daughter recently attended the National Speakers Association Youth Leadership Conference where she had the privilege of hearing and learning from youth – focused motivational speakers. One night I asked her what she'd learned that day and she replied with much bravado: “Mommy, my life is a movie and I'm in charge”!
After chuckling at my budding diva, I later reflected on how truly confident she sounded about her future. And then, I silently prayed that she would always carry with her the power of that declaration.
Alas – as adults – we know that she, in fact, will not always be in charge of the circumstances of her life and along her life's path she will experience lapses in her confidence (hopefully only temporary).
How do we gain confidence? How do we lose it? And if we do lose it, how do we rebuild our confidence?
We were recently working with a client in an industry that is undergoing tremendous upheaval. The successful business models of the past are slowly becoming extinct. While the executive team I was working with had developed new business strategies over the last 2-3 years to deal with the new market dynamics, the organization had been slow and somewhat faulty in their execution. Their business results were flat and below projections, and their employees were losing confidence in their ability to competitively survive, let alone thrive in the new environment.
One of the guiding principles for regaining confidence is: Tell yourself the truth – don't deny reality. What I appreciated about this executive team was, first of all, their willingness to candidly identify their lack of organizational confidence and what had likely caused it. They then re-examined the critical priorities for more aggressively expanding upon and executing their strategies. And, finally, they acknowledged that as their products and services transformed to meet the new market demands, they needed to be “role models of confidence” for the rest of the organization.
Successful individuals, teams and organizations are vigilant about protecting and nurturing their confidence. In fact, one could argue that confidence is the crucial differentiating factor of leadership success.
Unfortunately our personal and organizational lives are not movies – where technology allows for the story script to continuously be re-shot until the actions are perfectly choreographed and digitalized. In real life – changes and circumstances arrive at our doorsteps, often times unanticipated. They can either sap or zap our confidence barometer. But don't forget – as a leader of your life you really are in charge!
Actions for Results:
Tips and Tools for Gaining and Rebuilding Confidence
In the spirit of “confidence vigilance” keep these principles in mind:
• Develop your personal and organizational confidence barometer: What evidence do you see that everyone is highly optimistic and positively focused or depressed, burned out and focused on blame and failures?
• Learn how to spot low confidence:
—Criticism and blame
—Lack of respect for others
—Isolation and inward focus
—Lack of innovation and initiative
—Tension and rifts
—Pessimism and negativity
• Learn how to regain your confidence:
—Re-connect with your goals
—Use positive and forwards looking self-talk
—Have open dialogue and straight talk about reality and root causes
—Admit responsibility and assume accountability
—Focus on high pay-off strategies—doing what matters
—Look in the mirror-you get what you expect and reward
—Cut the talk and make it happen
—Insist on “plural or shared leadership”
“We were all inspired by your presentation on 'The Leader's Legacy.' If you don't mind, I'd like to pass on some of your thoughts to the rest of the organization.”
Senior Vice President
& General Manager
John Wiley & Sons, Inc
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Are you or your organization facing a particular performance challenge? Leadership issues? Turf wars instead of teamwork? Struggling with a major change? Expanding globally, but not collaborating across borders? Frustrated with lack of business growth?