6 habits to get you started
“What’s your secret to leading confidently?”
This is probably the question I am most often asked by leaders, colleagues and friends.
In times of tremendous change, how often do any of us feel really confident that we know exactly what we are doing? The truth is … it’s hard to believe in yourself when you are not sure you know what you are doing. It is even harder to lead others when we ourselves are still figuring things out.
What I can share with you is that I don’t believe there is only one answer to the question. You see, throughout my career I have experienced major wins and losses. Sometimes on the journey it felt like I was skating on the thinnest possible ice, groping through the dark or feeling blindfolded while pursuing certain goals and targets. Often, just when I began to feel the first glimmer of confidence with how things were going … BOOM! … change would grab me by the collar to spin me in a new direction starting my jitters all over again.
However, what I have learned from experience and observing others is that, whenever we launch out into a new endeavor, it is natural to be a bit nervous, somewhat worried and even a little unsure … this is a mark of intelligence! The more intelligent we are … the more we tend to worry because we tend to anticipate all the possibilities of trouble. It takes a smart leader to understand fully the risk involved in any new endeavor and to master the fine art of worry. One thing for sure, anxiety should never block our path to success … it should make us more observant as we move forward.
I have also discovered that the attitude of confidence is an important facilitator of success. The secret to leading confidently is hidden in specific habits, here are a few habits to consider to help you boost your leadership and regain your confidence edge.
- Listen to the people who use your products and services (aka your customers). I know this sounds basic but you would be surprised how many businesses and leaders don’t get feedback from the people responsible for giving them employment in the first place. Get into the habit of talking with your consumers … ask for suggestions … pay attention to their feedback because they know what they want and what you are and are not giving them. Once you know this you can confidently offer your products and services.
- Treat your people well! The success of your company, business and leadership is only as good as the people who work with and for you. Treat people with respect and dignity and chances are that’s how they will handle you, your partnerships, clients and customers. Believe it or not, people need more than a paycheck from you. Give your team a forum to make suggestions … allow them to make decisions and let them feel they truly make a difference to you, the team, the division and the company. Bottom-line to leading confidently … you don’t have to figure it out all on your own … that’s what teamwork is all about!
- Embrace change. Change is scary for most of us but don’t allow fear to hijack your success. Being a leader can be tough. When you are getting ready to implement a new way of doing things you may experience rejection of the idea, make mistakes along the way or fight a lot of other challenges. A confident leader will stumble a little … he or she may even fall … but one thing for sure he/she will never quit!
- Be flexible. One of the factors that is bound to set you apart as a confident leader is your ability to recognize opportunities and your ability to turn your focus in a heartbeat as demanded by an opportunity. I have worked for several Fortune 500 companies so I know firsthand how easy it is to get bogged down with irrelevant work, rigid processes, and outdated thinking that caused our leadership team to miss significant opportunities. Make sure as you are growing the business and your team that you don’t become so shortsightedly focused on what you are doing that you can’t quickly change directions as the business trends and customer needs mandate.
- Check your ego. Just because you are the boss does not mean you are not part of the team!
- Admit your weaknesses. The ultimate win to leading confidently … don’t try to do it all yourself. Many leaders tend to define themselves as superheroes (aka Superman or Wonder Woman) thinking no one can do as good a job as they can. As a result, many leaders are blinded by their own faults. Newsflash … none of us are perfect! Understand what your weaknesses are and make sure you are not holding up work progress by micromanaging or doing tasks you are not well-suited for.
The above habits have served me well throughout my corporate career and continue to serve me well as an entrepreneur, business owner and executive coach. It is my wish that these habits will serve you well too as you unleash the confident leader in you!
To your continued success!