In their book, The Confidence Code, Kathy Kay and Claire Shipman say, “Confidence is hard to define but easy to recognize. With it, you can take on the world; without it, you live stuck at the starting block of potential.”
It’s true that it is easy to recognize confidence in others. Why does it seem that some leaders exude confidence? They seem to believe that they can indeed take on the world and you believe they can too. How can you boost those feelings of confidence in yourself so you don’t remain “stuck at the starting block of potential”?
Here are six things you can do to start building your confidence as a leader:
- Get things done. Confidence is built on accomplishment, so start by getting things done! Make a list of small and large things that you have been putting off. Set achievable goals and monitor your progress toward meeting those goals. Take baby steps, and start checking things off of your list. Tackle small projects. Early wins will help boost your confidence and the more you accomplish, the more confident you will feel about reaching greater goals.
- Surround yourself with confidence. Confidence is contagious, so surround yourself with positive, confident people, and limit your contact with people who bring you down. Ask for the perspectives of people who you trust – not just those who are your cheerleaders – but also those who may provide critical feedback too (as long as they do so in a positive way!)
- Practice. Practice makes perfect. Various studies have shown that it takes between two and eight months for an activity to become a habit. Think about math homework when you were in school (or if you have children, the homework they bring home now.) Why do teachers give hundreds of math problems? So that math becomes automatic, a habit. Therefore, practice, practice, practice. Once something becomes habit, you will be able to do it well, and your confidence will show.
- Accept failure. Be fearless while you’re learning. Failure happens to everyone. Failure can help build confidence. How? It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? Michael Jordan, one of the greatest college and professional basketball players of all time, said, “I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” We learn from our failures. Failing can help you build confidence by understanding what went wrong, where you need to change or improve, and what you need to practice.
- Focus on your strengths. Make a list of the things you are already good at and that you love to do – those activities that give you energy. Focus on those things and find ways to incorporate them into your work and your daily life. When you start to feel confidence slip, remind yourself that you have these core strengths, and put them to use!
- Believe in yourself. Merriam-Webster defines confidence as “a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something”. Use believing in yourself as a building block for your confidence. Believe in yourself and then pay attention to how you present yourself so others can also believe in you. When speaking to or in front of others, make eye contact, use an assertive tone of voice, and be open and engaging. What you say, how you say it, and your non-verbal cues matter.
These are just a few ways to help you build your confidence as a leader. You can also use these tools to help individuals on your team build confidence in themselves. When you feel confident in yourself and have a team filled with confident individuals, you too will be on the road to feeling like you can take on the world!
What are some other ways that you’ve been able to build confidence in yourself or in others? Share your suggestions and experiences in the comments.