“A good leader inspires others with confidence in him. A great leader inspires them with confidence in themselves.” -Unknown
Lack of confidence is the kryptonite to leadership no matter the talent, skill or potential. There are very few leaders who have 100% confidence 100% of the time. The key is being able to project confidence in spite of your nervousness and constantly evolving your comfort zone. Here are some thoughts to help you build confidence in a leader.
Meetings: Before going to a meeting or conference have the leader plan out his presence. If it’s a 3-day meeting have him decide how many times each day he will raise his hand to grab the mic runner’s attention or to share his thoughts with the group. Will he speak once before lunch and once after? If you have the agenda in advance-which topics would he be comfortable speaking about? He should be prepared with thoughts on those specific topics. This will give him confidence because he is prepared. It will also minimize someone calling on him to speak about something when he doesn’t have value to add.
Conference Calls: If he is the facilitator, have him plan the agenda and his speaking points well in advance. Have him anticipate questions and be prepared with potential answers. Have him ask a few participants in advance if they will chime in when he opens the call up for discussion so there is no awkward silence.
Interviews: As the participant, make sure he does his homework. He must become the subject matter expert on the company he is interviewing with, their values, their culture, their competition, their industry. He should make sure he is the subject matter expert on his own resume. Some interviewers will go point by point on a resume and deep dive. Ensure he is prepared to articulately speak to examples to back up what he has written and how he can add value to their organization.
Presentations: Have the leader practice, practice and practice some more. The more he practices, the more comfortable he will be with the material, where key info is on the slides, anticipate questions, remain organized and on time. Practicing and being comfortable will also allow him to be himself and allow his personality to connect with the audience vs. being so focused on remembering the content. Create increasing milestones for them. Have them co-facilitate a few conference calls before leading one on their own. Have them do the icebreaker at a meeting prior to having them speak on a topic at a meeting. Gradually evolve their comfort zone.
Leading a New Team: Confidence in leading a team starts and ends with genuine connection. The leader will need to get to know his team as individuals first before getting to know them as leaders. This is one of those situations where he will have to slow down to speed up. Spend time with each of them one-on-one. He should get to know them and be vulnerable enough to allow them to get to know him as a person first. Once he’s done that encourage him to enjoy a team building with them as a group to strengthen the connection. The next step is to get to know them individually as leaders. What are their strengths and opportunities? What are their aspirations? How do they like to be led? What type of recognition do they appreciate? What motivates them? What’s their perception of accountability?
Be sure to give the leader positive reinforcement when you see their confidence in action. Enlist other key leaders to acknowledge improvement when they observe it as well. Don’t forget to keep that balanced with direct and constructive feedback on where they still need to make progress. Your ability to be transparent around the opportunities observed and provide timely coaching will be just as valuable than the encouragement you are able to give.
“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
“As long as you keep going, you’ll keep getting better. And as you get better, you gain more confidence. That alone is success.” -Tamara Taylor