Confidence for Managers and Leaders

Confidence is 'the' key success factor for modern managers and leaders and yet many lack confidence in the following areas:

  1. Managing downwards when subordinates have higher qualifications or are qualified in a different discipline
  2. Influencing peers when there is no direct authority
  3. Managing upwards because you need to influence your boss
  4. Influencing outwards to clients and vendors

With all these scenarios the keys to confidence are, 1) accepting that you are valuable and have contributions to make (Self-esteem), 2) taking ownership of your thought and feelings (Personal Power), and 3) communicating what you want (Executive Presence). In short, the application of Self-leadership.

Confidence for Managers and Leaders

When managing downwards, managers need to remember Henry Ford who said, “The generalist will always employ the specialist.” The manager doesn’t need to know everything about everyone’s discipline they need to know how to engage smart people to get the job done. Highly specialized people often miss the big picture and don’t connect outside of their discipline. A good leader knows a bit about a lot of different things and can therefore use the best skills or combination of skills within the team to get the job done.

Confidence to influence laterally comes from believing that your idea is a good one and knowing how to communicate the benefits of this idea or action to the other parties. In an age of social networking, we should feel confident to socialize our ideas, after all, it is not the best ideas that get adopted but the best supported ideas.

To confidently and successfully manage upwards requires the manager or emerging leader to perceive their superior as a colleague rather than a boss. I don’t mean do away with respect or be over-familiar, but to realize that they are both subservient to the vision of the business/company. Just like influencing laterally, ideas that are framed as beneficial to the business will be well received.

When we succeed a something it builds confidence but we must have the confidence to attempt before we can succeed. If you require confidence to attempt something for the first time, remember Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance – so prepare and then, as Nike says, “Just Do It!”

This doesn’t guarantee success every-time but with confidence we know we can receive feedback, learn from our mistakes, and do better next time (Self-efficacy).

So the distinction here is that 'confidence' is about what you have done or are doing, and Self-efficacy is the belief to take new action and be open to feedback if you are not perfect. Many people are confident in their 'Comfort Zone' but lack the Self-efficacy to try something new.

What do you need to confidently try?

(Edited from original Post,  Feb 5, 2009. Picture from Flickr)

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