Confidence could be said to be a fluffy factor of leadership, but when you consider how it impacts a leader directions, decisions, and quality of followers, the fluff factor fades. Perhaps this is a bit of experience talking with twenty five years of leading with varying degrees of confidence or maybe today is channel Tina Turner day. Or maybe the idea stems from the Contagious Confidence™ webinar conducted just this week. From either source, the truth is a good leader must have confidence. Why? What’s wrong with a leader faking the feeling of knowing what they’re doing, where they’re going, and with whom? Much, much more than one might realize. In fact, confidence has much more to do with leadership than one might surmise as it significantly impacts these three key areas. What’s confidence got to do with leadership? Without it, you as a leader will struggle with…
Most commonly called a vision, yet more practically known as one’s direction, where a leader is going influences each member of the team they lead. From career ambitions to the more grand ideas of where they are taking the team and their achievements, confidence can become a barrier or an important booster. Think of those successful leaders who’ve left a lasting legacy in their industry. Do you think Steve Jobs had confidence about his direction and that he would indeed get there? Does it appear that Wozniak, his lesser famous colleague had that same level of confidence? Even in an example of a leader with more people skills, does it appear that Bill Gates had confidence in his direction? What about Chris Gardner? What about Marissa Mayer? Without a firm belief in your direction, vision, desired achievement or even next goal, any path will do for you. Those leaders with a sense of confidence find ways around barriers, build bridges over barriers, and let little or nothing, and no one, stop them from doing what they believe must be done. Think of it in terms of your own leadership role. If you’ve little or limited confidence in where you’re going, how on earth will you lead a team to get there? Perhaps it’s time to pursue a goal or direction about which you have an abundance of confidence instead.
Not everyone will agree with a leader’s decisions or actions. Those with a high sense of confidence know this and choose to accept that making everyone happy is not usually the best method. However, those with a lower sense of confidence will spend countless hours either not making decisions or making the kinds of decisions that seem to please the most team members or colleagues. A lack of confidence impedes a leader’s ability to make decisions that might later be labeled innovative or a wise risk. A lack of confidence in your own leadership capabilities will cause you to approach any leadership skill or behavior with tentative enthusiasm, leaving the door wide open for someone else to assume the role of informal leader. While having a high sense of confidence won’t make tough decisions easier, or the crummy choice between say laying off people or freezing all travel more rosy, a well-developed belief that you can make the right decision will make the outcome easier for you to lead through. Confidence is the belief that you can do something, so whether your confidence is telling you that you can learn a new skill, can get through this change, can overcome that bad publicity, can thrive through the merger, can hire an ideal new salesperson or can live with those who don’t like you’re direction…make sure you listen. Leaders confident in what they are doing make faster progress and get faster feedback on what to do differently or where to make improvements.
Leaders who lack confidence are more likely to hire team members based on something called the likability factor. In the interview, decisions are made based on whether or not there is the elusive “click” and whether or not the leader can imagine being friends with this candidate. How a person clicks with the leadership style you use most often, or even your personality, is not a winning determinant of high job performance. Leaders with high levels of confidence will surround themselves with people who might be smarter, wiser, or more experienced than they, thus adding to the elevated potential for results for the team. Leaders with lower senses of confidence will tend to surround themselves with people they can control, easily persuade or that they feel confident will never find out they lack confidence in their own leadership. Who is on the team you lead? Who will you add to the team you lead? And more importantly, in areas where confidence shows up as a deficiency, how will you lead yourself to have an even higher confident sense?
If your leadership confidence is low and not seeming to provide you with the rocket propulsion to get you where you want to go, with whom, and how fast, perhaps it’s time to hire help. Confidence is tricky to develop on your own because the voices in your head are strong and if you’ve listened to them for decades, it can be a challenge to determine which ones are doing you wrong. If it makes sense to hire a business coach who’s been there, gotten through confidence struggles of her own and will be a dedicated guide on the side so you can get out of your own way and go exactly where you want, it would be a privilege to talk with you and learn more about your journey.
Monica Wofford, CSP is a leadership development specialist who coaches, consults with, and speaks to leaders of all levels, building their skills, emotional intelligence and authenticity. Author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.