“Good leaders inspire people to have confidence in their leader, great leaders inspire people to have confidence in themselves.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Confidence is about being clear on your purpose, values and convictions, and being able to admit when you are wrong.
According to Jim Collins in Good to Great, great leaders are single-mindedly ambitious on behalf of their company yet at the same time they remain humble. Confidence and humility can seem like opposites, but they actually go hand-in-hand. To have the humilty to say, “I made a mistake” or “I don’t know” requires strong inner confidence.
Self-confidence directly impacts every facet of the leader’s role. You can think of self-confidence as the building block from which quality leadership skills grow. With this essential trait, you can inspire confidence in others. Confident leaders have an innate ability to connect with others and build rapport and trust.
Why is confidence vital for leaders?
- It helps to establish trust
According to a study from Willis Towers Watson, ‘trust and confidence in senior leadership is one of the top drivers of employee retention’. When people trust you, they will support you and work with you towards the accomplishment of company goals.
If you are confident in your actions, others will trust you to make the right decisions. People naturally want to work with leaders that have clearly defined goals and actionable steps for reaching those goals.
Successful leaders will tell you that much of their success can be attributed to making good decisions, and confidence is essential to good decision making. When you are unsure of your choices, your team may doubt your effectiveness. Without clear direction, the performance and productivity of your workforce may suffer.
- It inspires collaboration
Strong, confident leaders cultivate a creative, collaborative working environment that thrives on success. Collaboration is a key component of a productive and innovative workforce. A confident leader knows when to ask for feedback and advice from others and accepts that they cannot have all the answers all the time.
Encouraging people to communicate openly and candidly helps foster a more collaborative atmosphere and collaboration makes it easier to reframe issues to discover innovative solutions.
- It prevents indecision
Indecision in leadership can have a detrimental impact on progress and results and can allow problems to escalate to crisis.
An indecisive leader cannot encourage others to act in a timely manner. This may result in stagnation, allowing your organisation to miss out on important opportunities.
In a recent poll of executives and employees, 43% of staff felt that their organization is not prepared for changes in their industry. Indecisive leaders are unlikely to prepare well for changes.
Confident leaders can make tough decisions and stick to their choices. This self-assurance is necessary to keep a business moving forward. Even if you occasionally make the wrong decision, you can learn from your mistakes.
How to Increase Your Confidence as a Leader
- Develop self-awareness
Developing confidence starts with enhancing your self-awareness by analysing your strengths and weaknesses.
Understanding your strengths gives you support to rely on. Evaluating your weaknesses helps you to determine when to rely on the strengths of others. Ask others for feedback to increase your level of self-awareness and help you to gain a clearer picture of what you need to work on.
- Manage your inner dialogue
Instead of berating yourself when you make a mistake, simply take responsibility and find ways to avoid repeating the same error.
- Help others to unleash their full potential
Confident leaders nurture the talents of others, helping them to be successful in their role. A mark of your success as a leader is the degree to which you have coached, mentored and helped others to develop their own track record of wins. You need to keep people on track and committed to a unified goal.
- Take action
The best strategy for increasing confidence is taking action and risks. This is how we learn and grow. If we don’t try we cannot learn from our experiences and use this knowledge to fuel greater success next time. Failure is a fundamental part of the journey to success. So, don’t be afraid to take risks and commit to your decisions, this shows assurance and helps inspire confidence in others.
As Katty Kay says in ‘The Confidence Code’ ‘If you choose not to act, you have little chance of success. What’s more, when you choose to act, you’re able to succeed more frequently than you think.’
If you are interested in understanding the four cornerstones of self-confidence and how these can be applied to boost your leadership impact, you may find this article helpful.
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