Walking into a boardroom and averting your eyes as your stomach clenches is a horrible feeling. When you are worried about what you need to say and how you will say it, you begin to agonize. The doubt creeps in. Others in the room intuitively sense your inner hesitancies. This uncertainty spells disaster.
Now paint a different picture. Imagine entering the room with poised posture. Sense within you the assurance of your abilities and certainty that you can handle what might come your way. Others may not be able to put their finger on it. However, you know they are aware of something about you. It is your confidence.
Confidence isn’t something handed to you. It is not a skill that can be taught. Confidence comes from within.
Confidence is part wise elder and part courageous warrior. Your confidence grows as you gain wisdom and then apply that understanding to experiences, events, and relationships. Self-confidence develops when you internalize the lessons and insightfully apply your learning in the future.
Years ago, I yelled at my administrative support. We were young. I’d just received a promotion into one of my first leadership positions. This lady and I went from co-workers to me supervising her. Instead of allies, we became opponents. We spent a lot of time vying to be right. Shouting at her to show me respect did much more to tarnish my reputation then it did to nurture it.
As a result of that exchange, I reprimanded myself for being inept and unprofessional. I realized if I wanted to be the leader I desired, I needed to seek mentorship. I reached out to respected leaders for insights. In doing so, I was able to address tough conversations with increasing skill.
As a leader, I courageously stepped into no end of difficult discussions. As a result, I gained confidence. It was through my applied learning and my willingness to take risks that I become more adept and bold about doing the work that needed to be done. Boldly engaging in those situations helped me to mature and strengthened our team.
Confidence grows when you further your knowledge and expose yourself to new situations. To thrive as a leader, you will need to establish habits that cultivate learning. You must challenge yourself to move beyond what is comfortable.
Establish these three are three habits to foster increased confidence.
1. Tackle tasks you are avoiding.
What we are skirting around is often the thing that will advance us the most. Heck yes, it may be tough. Absolutely, you may not want to do it or maybe you don't even know how to do it. But the fact that you have been dodging it is a huge clue that it is something you might want to challenge yourself with.
To identify the task you have been avoiding requires you to take a few moments each day of reflection.
- What has shown up on your to-do list for the last three weeks that you’ve simply been too busy to do?
- What hasn’t even hit your to-do list that probably should have?
- Where have you wanted to raise your hand, but kept it carefully concealed because you just weren’t sure you were the right person?
1. Pick a day each week to reflect for 5 minutes.
2. Identify the task you’ve been avoiding.
3. Schedule time to do it before the week is over.
2. Do something outside of your comfort zone daily.
We like our beloved coffee. We have a favorite pair of shoes. We take the same route to work each day. It’s comfortable. It doesn’t require thought. Routine is important. Equally imperative in growing yourself as a leader is taking risks.
The more often you leave the security of what you know, the larger your zone of comfort becomes. You didn’t know the people you worked with when you started. Over time, you’ve learned more about them and now have a relationship with them. The first time you picked up a cell phone it was strange. Now you use it every day. Learning a new task or skill requires a place of not knowing how first. But going there is where you learn.
1. At the end of the day make a note of where you stepped outside of your comfort zone. For example:
- I volunteered my opinion in the meeting today, even though my stomach was in knots.
- I pushed back, saying no when someone tried to give me an additional task. It was awkward because I am a people pleaser.
- I signed up for Toastmasters today even though I’m terrified of speaking in public.
2. Give yourself a high five, a pat on the back or a big fist pump for doing that. Celebrating your efforts to develop confidence is what grows your interior affirmation rather than looking external validation that most of us constantly crave.
3. Spend 15 minutes a day learning something new.
We are most afraid of what we don't know. It's time to change that. Make the unknown familiar.
The greatest leaders are readers. The most impactful people have within them a wealth of knowledge. The most confident people have a storehouse of experiences, stories, and knowledge.
To increase your confidence, you will need to learn. The more you learn through courses, books and videos, the more you can tackle different situations in different ways.
1. Set aside 15 – 30 minutes a day as learning time.
- Choose time at work or home in the morning or evening.
- Schedule it. What isn’t scheduled does not get done.
Increasing your confidence requires you to gain knowledge and step outside your comfort zone. Feed the wise elder within your and cheer on the courageous warrior. Together they will develop the confidence you desire and need to become the incredible leader you were born to be.
Kathy is a leadership coach for women who want to strengthen their leadership and find balance in life. She mentors females as they rediscover their purpose, passion and persistence for life while dealing with office politics, jerk bosses and the challenges of family life. Kathy gives her ladies the hope and inspiration they need along with a kick in the pants to make positive change in their lives. Find her at silverrivercoaching.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
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