In a world of volatility and uncertainty, there is nothing more compelling than a leader who demonstrates genuine confidence. It is one of the key ingredients in gaining support for your ideas and followers for your projects. After all, if you are not confident about your ideas and solutions, then why should anybody else be?
Your level of assertiveness is one of the ways in which your confidence is demonstrated in behaviour. Confidence is the attitude and assertiveness is a set of behaviours. Assertiveness without confidence is bluff and bluster and people will sense the lack of authenticity Confidence without assertiveness creates leaders who, though confident in themselves and their ideas, lack the ability to push their ideas when push is needed. Great ideas can be lost without assertiveness and bad ideas can get pushed through by others.
You can learn techniques for showing confidence and assertiveness but “doing” confidence is not the same as “being” confident. It really pays to work on genuine confidence first, then assertiveness comes as a by-product.
How to build confidence
Confidence is a belief in your own worth, and, by extension, in the worth of your needs, ideas and contributions. Interestingly, genuinely confident leaders also hold these same beliefs about other people. In Transactional Analysis, this life position is known as “I’m OK, you’re OK”.
Lack of confidence is displayed at one end of the spectrum as shyness or reticence and at the other by bluster and braggadocio. Either extreme points to a limiting belief about self-worth (I’m not OK) so one essential step to build confidence is to understand yourself, your major strengths and weaknesses and to “own” them. Confident people will gladly share their weaknesses, not as excuses for poor performance but as a way of building intimacy and genuinely opening themselves up for help in those weaker areas.
Psychometric instruments such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator can help leaders to identify their natural preferences which often underpin their observable strengths and weaknesses. Being able to understand preferences and to be open about sharing them with others, helps to build and demonstrate confidence.
Once you realise that you don’t need to be superman/superwoman (and there is no such thing) to be an amazing leader, there is a great sense of relief and freedom. People have always followed flawed but authentic humans rather than technically perfect automatons. Examine yourself to get a realistic view of what you bring to the party. Once you are grounded in that, your confidence will grow.
- Be yourself (find out who you are and be the best version of yourself that you can be)
- Be honest (say what you know and say what you don’t know – it’s endearing)
- Be present (notice what you say to yourself and make sure you are saying good things!)
- Be courageous (when something needs to be said – say it, calmly and with empathy)
- Don’t just play to win - play to “win-win”!