Let me tell you a little story about Bill, the business owner. He was facing a pivotal moment as his business was about to either soar high or fail fast. As with many business owners, the little nagging fears and self-doubts were weighing heavily on his shoulders as he approached the conference room with his team. He entered the room to big smiles and quickly went to the head of the board room table. However, the group soon noted his dampened enthusiasm and looks of despair. He started talking about the launch they would hit that day for the newest product, but everyone could sense something was off. As the thoughts were beginning to amplify in everyone’s minds, Bill shared that he really didn’t have much confidence that the team would hit the goals or come anywhere near the projections that would be needed to keep the business afloat. It was like an immediate buzz kill. The more he spoke, the more everyone in the room felt deflated – like the energy was sucked out of the room.
Their leader didn’t have confidence in the product. Worse still, their leader didn’t have confidence in his team. To cap that off, it came down to the personal level: he didn’t have confidence in anyone to deliver on what they had all put their energy, genius, and reputations into.
Is it any surprise that his company failed? Is it any surprise that each person in that room lost confidence in themselves and took years to build it back? Is it any surprise that his lack of awareness of the fundamental role and impact of a leader undermined completely the strength of his team, of his company’s product, and ultimately of his own abilities?
Leadership is written about often and in many different ways, but one of the quickest killers is the lack of confidence. The very root of the word speaks to confidence: how can anyone lead without exuding confidence? It invigorates a team and, conversely, nothing diminishes a team, or its members, faster than exhibiting a lack of confidence. Showing confidence can grow another’s belief more quickly than even established proof. We’ve all been there when someone has such conviction and confidence that even we become a believer based on their enthusiasm.
You’ve been there right? Felt the energy coming off of a leader who is so confident that what he or she, together with his or her team, are building is the right thing to do – that it will succeed.
So how do you build and display confidence when there’s so much uncertainty around you? How do you trust yourself and others while you seek out and eliminate any flaw or imperfection that could threaten success? That is the very heart of being a leader – of leading.
One technique is to always recognize that there is no 100% certainty in decision making. Part of growing a business means making many decisions, and not all of them will be perfect. It’s essential to gather the information and make the best, most informed decision you can.
Another technique is to keep in mind the hard work, energy, and personal commitment by team members that has gone into building the project, product, or service. It would not likely have gotten to that point if there wasn’t significant strength and validity to it.
Finally, if you know there is a key meeting or presentation, it is helpful to map out your talking points and, if possible, practice before a trusted colleague – even if that “colleague” is your own reflection in a mirror. This will a give you a dry run, a chance to see how you project your confidence and allow you to get some feedback as to your impact in terms of both your spoken and body language. Even just a simple practice session can give you a massive boost of confidence for when you present yourself to your team or audience.
There is, of course, the other side of the coin: people who come across as so overly confident that it causes their audience to question whether they are truly knowledgeable about their subject matter or whether they are likely incompetent. Such “leaders” don’t inspire confidence at all. They are overconfident – essentially confident beyond their own credibility, which causes their message to be distrusted.
As with anything, if you break the circle of trust, it is tough to make it whole again.
As you grow and build your team, leadership also comes through with acknowledging the outstanding contributions by others and displaying your confidence in your team to build, create, and execute. As you showcase your confidence with your team, that also translates to your own belief in your confidence, which causes others to be confident and follow your direction. When that happens, you are then a truly great leader.
Kristen David, a former trial lawyer and partner who went from working 85 hours a week and taking home way too little money in her law firm, built it up to a million-dollar-plus business, then sold her shares and pivoted into a business coach guru. She is now an international speaker, bestselling author, and operates a successful business, empowering business owners to build thriving, profitable businesses that are self-managed with systems. She helps busy business owners build those systems by implementing policies and procedures the Fast Track Way.