Few are willing to discuss the very element that can quickly cripple a leader: Confidence.
Whether it’s in the new leader who pretends to know it all, or the leader who has done the job since the invention of dirt, the outcome ususally is the same.
Too little or too much confidence can keep a leader from leading others well.
In fact, as heard in Contagious Confidence, true leadership is the ability to be oneself, then lead one’s self, before earning the right to lead others.
On Confidence and Authenticity
Being oneself requires having the confidence to be authentic.
Leading oneself requires monitoring one’s own confidence and both are required to effectively lead those looking to follow.
Confidence is a key element in personal development and the best leaders make sure they develop it so it never gets in their way.
7 Signs Your Confidence is Fading
Here are seven ways to make sure confidence enhances, instead of prevents, leadership efforts.
1) Focused on Favorite on the Playground
One with a diminished sense of confidence about who they are and the skills or value they bring to a team may show signs of wanting everyone to like him. The reality is not everyone will like the leader, but everyone needs to respect the leader.
However, when a leader’s focus is on being the favorite person on the playground so that they feel better about themselves, it will impact their decisions of hiring, firing, promotion, discipline, and project assignments.
Strive not to be the favorite, but favored when real leadership is needed.
2) Taking Things Personally
Every human being has good days and bad days and on the days when things are bad, unintended emotions, stress, or reactions might surface.
One with low-levels of confidence will personalize these outbursts or temporary states of behavior and allow it to impact beliefs, long term perceptions and relationships in the future.
Taking things personally is only appropriate when things are personal and an employee’s stressed out reaction to a bit of feedback from the leader, for example, is usually not about the leader, but the employees concern about the meaning of the feedback.
3) Getting Defensive
If an employee asks a question and a leader interprets the seeking of additional information to indicate a questioning of judgment and reacts as if that were fact, confidence is an issue.
Effective leaders ask, think, and perhaps even process information before getting defensive.
They also possess a level of confidence that shields against concern over what others think when asking “why”.
4) The Fear Factor
New leaders in particular often feel as if they must know everything in order to lead well. If this feeling persists, and no contrary guidance is provided, the first time something comes up that they don’t know, so will the fear of looking foolish.
That fear has turned into covering up, making stuff up, and generally mucking up the success of many a company. The fear factor is expensive and all due to a lack of confidence.
Banish the fear and become okay with saying “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.”
5) Reacting in Response
Stress, fear, and a lack of confidence can cause a leader to react instead of respond. Whether it’s a tough question, an accusation, or a bit of feedback that creates the need to respond, a reaction will come about if there’s a need to show anger or exert power.
If those needs exist, there might be a lack of confidence and signs of several issues.
6) Quick to Hire, Slow to Fire
Similar to the need to be the favorite person on the playground, hanging on to an employee who is long overdue for release is detrimental to the team and the organization.
Those high performers will resent a leader’s indecision to release a drag on the team.
Those who are dragging behind or keeping others from excelling will learn their position is safe due to inaction and continue to move as slowly as they can get away with until told otherwise.
Confident leaders reverse the order and fire fast, while hiring slowly.
7) Too Much Letting Go
While a lack of confidence causes problems, there is also the need to point out the effect of overconfidence as the pendulum doth swing both ways. If a leader over delegates, lets go of too much and generally takes a hands off approach to leading the team, he may be a bit overconfident in his abilities or theirs and secure in the idea of knowing all that is needed.
This is okay occasionally, but a problem of stagnation if consistently allowed to continue.
Getting More Confidence
Confidence is a concept that is given less emphasis in leadership than perhaps it deserves. While it is assumed that once one secures a title, one should have the confidence to fill the role, this is often not the case and if what is written here is showing up at the office, there is a need for more confidence for the leaders.
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