“As a leader one of the things that’s most important is to know your team needs to see you as confident.” – Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors coach.
The biggest thing you can do for your team as a leader is to empower them.
How does confidence contribute to creating an elite leader?
Leaders are jugglers. In one hand there is a ball which metaphorically refers to the responsibility of creating a clear and crystal vision and goal for their organisation, while in the other hand the other ball symbolises the things leaders do behind the scenes. This includes being involved in enhancing and epitomising what it is to exude and express self-confidence. For high performing leaders they may be juggling more than two balls- this form of mastery is something a leader should actively work towards achieving.
So, if leaders need to inspire, enable, empower, and create purpose, one important thing is needed – self-confidence. Self-confidence not only in themselves but establishing an environment where they actively try to activate and nurture the self-confidence within their team.
Leadership is often thought of in unison with the over-used qualities such as charisma, authority, vision, strategic thinking and so forth. However, we seem to forget about a characteristic that exists within the most profound and established leaders – self-confidence. Yes, self-confidence. Harvard Business Review wrote an article on confidence building and so succinctly highlighted the significance of confidence and its connection to success. Think of the top guns, the individuals that have endured getting bashed around in leadership roles. Leadership is no place for shyness and timidity. It is a place for surety and a confident presence.
During uncertainty, employees want to be guided by a leader that exudes confidence. One that creates the calm within the storm. Fear is just as contagious as confidence and a leader should be more concerned with spreading the surety that confidence provides rather than the uncertainty that fear breeds. Leaders are only humans too. Certain times leaders may be required to publicly display feelings of certainty while internally not possessing the same amount of confidence. It is easy to lie to your team when things are uncertain. However, when you find yourself in a situation where you cannot provide clarity with confidence, rather provide the truth and ensure that you are confident that there will be a positive outcome.
You may ask, how do you bring out self-confidence in your team?
Leaders remember you are the base of all processes and psychological safety within your team. Drawing the confidence out of each team member starts with the way you delegate and trust your team, the direction you provide, the authority you possess, the resources you provide and the accountability you instil in your team.
Let’s delve into the actions you can take to empower and bring out the confidence in your team:
Direction: When you provide direction, your team knows which road to follow. Identify what problem or the opportunity to your team. Don’t forget to be clear and precise about the objective. Give them the power to determine how the objective should be accomplished. When you empower them to choose the route to take to reach that goal you enhance their self-confidence.
Authority: Surprisingly, employees respond better to bounded authority (acting within the limits of their rightful authority) instead of blanket authority (acting outside of the limits of their rightful authority). Although this may sound counterintuitive, it is in fact a confidence building tool as individuals do not get the feeling that others are second-guessing their decisions or ideas because they are acting out of the authority they have within the team.
Resources: It is not only just about providing your team with the resources they need but rather asking them what they think they need and then assist them to find the resources.
Accountability: As a leader it may be difficult to hand over the baton – you might think it would be much easier to complete a task on your own rather than delegating the task to a team member. You need to build confidence in the individuals you delegate to. Show them you are confident in their ability and the way they have chosen to approach a specific task. Remember to reward them along the way for their effort and recognise their success at the end.
Care about continually helping your team to learn and develop: Competence and confidence are closely related- without one you cannot have the other. If your team feels that they are not given the opportunity to develop and that their skills go unnoticed- your team will be a breeding ground for low self-esteem. Developing your team’s skills is an effective way to enhance their confidence as they learn new skills. Care about the career path of your team and purposely assist team members to identify their career trajectories. Your aim is to develop your team and be a support for them to reach the goals they have in the future even if it means they may leave your company. You are not only developing leaders for your own organisation but leaders that are able to go out there in the world and achieve greatness.
Focus on your team’s strengths instead of their developmental areas: As a leader you have the ability to influence. Give your team tasks that you know they enjoy and have shown a particular interest in. When you give them the opportunity to master the skills, they wish to grow you will not only increase their confidence but their motivation too.
Support not report: Think about a time where you felt like a failure. The chances that you go to someone that will listen and support you are a lot higher than going to an individual that will scold you for your wrong doings. Be that pillar of support for your team. Take the time to connect with individuals on a one-on-one basis to boost their confidence. Getting to know your team on a deeper and more personal level will give you valuable insights into what motivates them. Use this knowledge to draw out the confidence in your team.
Praise and encourage failure: Your team should be allowed to make mistakes. We are all human at the end of the day. Knowing that it is okay to make mistakes but finding a solution to the mistake you have made is one way to bring out the confidence in your team. When we scold our team for making mistakes, we deprive them of the opportunity to be courageous enough to test the boundaries, experiment, and bathe in their curiosity. Do not rob your team from the magic and elite execution they can produce by penalising them for the mistakes. Individuals that preserve after they have experienced a failure are more likely to be successful as they have built up the self-confidence through those failures.
Celebrate the small wins: Do you take the time to praise and recognise your team for the effort that they put in? Do you only do this once a big project has finally reached a successful end? Recognition is not meant to follow an annual or biannual schedule for that matter. Recognition and praise should follow suite after each and every small team victory. Never forget the impact that a small thank you can make. Always remember to praise the effort along the way as much as you celebrate the victory at the end.
An elite leader is someone that actively wants to grow and develop their team members so that they too can eventually become leaders in the future. Now does that not sound rewarding?