Confidence is half the success. I’m making this statement based on the years of working with manager and potential managers, with leaders and potential leaders. Aside of the technical skills or the soft skills needed to do managerial jobs it is also about attitude. And part of the right attitude is confidence in one’s own abilities. Only by being confident in yourself you can inspire confidence in others. If you look unsure, indecisive, and lost you can imagine how difficult it is for others to trust your judgment and follow you. At the same time if you only try to act like you have a confidence then others will see right through you. You actually need to gradually build the confidence to be a good leader.
It all starts with an inventory of your current skills and your state of mind. Admitting that you are not sure if you can do the job is always a good first step as it gives you a chance to identify the gaps and work on them. Ask others for feedback and then get some quiet time to sit down and think. Where is the lack of confidence coming from? Is it just from the fact that you are thrust into a new role that you’ve never done before? Or is it that you are genuinely lack some skills to get the job done?
If it is not that much about skills, for example you have already done it only on smaller scale, it is about mindset. This is a good news bad news situation. The good news is that you can change your mindset. The bad news is that only you can change your mindset. There is very little other people around you can do to help you out. You can get some encouragement from your boss or coworkers, but that’s it. The actual work is up to you. I would even argue that too much encouragement from people around you may even stifle your ability to build self-confidence as you will be constantly reminded that others probably believe you need encouragement as you are not confident enough.
So how do you build a self-confidence to do your job? Step by step. It all starts with some small wins, with some familiar ground and gradually building on top of it. For this to work you need the ability to see the small wins and forget the big stuff for a while. As I wrote in Positive Approach To Life you need to keep positive and optimistic by seeing the things you can do already today. The things you are good at, see the small wins and don’t be afraid to recognize your own achievements and impact you had on creating these small wins.
I have never tried it but one of the people in my team was trying to keep a diary for some time writing down some of the small wins or issues he had to tackle on daily basis. He used online OhLife tool that will send you everyday a random note you made to yourself in the past. Suddenly he realized that some of the issues he needs to deal with today are repeating themselves, but some of them also don’t look like issues anymore. It is a great way how to realize what have you achieved in the last couple of months and how far have you progressed. It helps you to realize that you are much more experienced than you were several months ago and that will give you lots of confidence.
And if the reason why you lack confidence is your believe that you are not good enough, you lack a formal training, or you lack some technical skills? Well, just get out of your office and get these! Yes, it will take some effort but if you believe you need formal education to do your job then you should put in the hours and get the training. If you feel you need more practice, then just go out and practice. For example, I never was a particularly confident public speaker. At some point I felt that it is really preventing me from having a bigger impact on my organization and what I felt I really needed was some practice to build a self-confidence when being in front of large groups. I knew the theory from my past presentation skills training but lack of practice caused serious confidence issues. So I joined Toastmasters and pushed myself to be very active there. Regularly speaking on Toastmasters meetings helped me to build the confidence I needed.
Big part of building a confidence is a simple preparation. If you are nervous and don’t know whether you can do something just make sure you spend as much time as needed in preparation. You will still not have the assurance everything will be fine but you will at least have a feeling that you are as well prepared as humanly possible and that will give you at least some small piece of confidence to start with. One technique you may also consider is to look back into your past. Were you born with ability to ride a bike, drive a car, use a computer, or read and write? And now look at yourself today. You can do all these things and you are very confident doing them. Simple. You can achieve some amazing things if you put your mind on it.
Being confident means not just knowing how to do stuff or deal with a specific situation it also means stepping up and leading the way. Even if you are not totally confident in your ability to do something just showing the courage will get you a long way. Yes, there is a small part of pretension in this. You could say that you are faking it and actually you are. It is just a question how much out there it really is. As long as you keep this in check and are willing to admit that you are new to the job, others will accept it and try to help you. And again, with every success, even a small one you continue to build more and more confidence so at some point you stop thinking about it and you are an adult, self-confident professional who doesn’t need to think about this anymore as building confidence to do new things will become part of your nature.
There is just one danger you need to keep in mind. Some people have troubles distinguishing between confidence and arrogance. There is a danger that when you try really hard acting like a confident person and ignoring good advice coming from people around you they will see you as an arrogant fool who has no idea what he is doing it. That is the easiest way how to damage not just your image and reputation but once you realize it also your self-confidence.
Twitter type summary: “Confidence is the cornerstone of a great leadership and consciously building it is the best investment of your time.”
How confident are you and how did you get the confidence to do your job? What do you advice to people who are good but lack the self-confidence to use their whole potential?