Everyone knows that competence is essential to workplace success, professional achievement and personal satisfaction. But without confidence, competence will only take you so far. And unfortunately, too many perfectly capable leaders lack confidence.
Building confidence does not require a complete personality overhaul. Instead, you can take smaller steps to become more self-assured and boost your confidence.
Here are some key actions you can take:
1. Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Volunteer for a project that will help you build new skills. Apply for a job that feels like a stretch but matches your interests. Sign up to present or speak at an event and tackle your fear of public speaking head-on.
2. Visualize what you want as a first step to meeting a new challenge.
For example, see yourself in the role you want to achieve. Golfers are routinely advised to picture where the ball should travel as part of their swing. By imagining yourself in the job you want, you can create that vision for those around you, too. Give yourself a head start by getting into character. Want to take an executive role? Be sure to dress, talk, and act like an executive.
3. Assess your competencies.
Write down all of the skills you bring to the table right now. Don’t forget to include broader talents that can help your organization succeed -- now and in the future.
Erica Dhawan, CEO of Cotential, spoke recently at the Women’s Leadership Summit co-sponsored by my company, SAP, and PwC about the power of connectional intelligence. By combining the world’s diversity of people, networks, disciplines, and resources, Dhawan says, connectional intelligence helps companies drive breakthrough business results.
4. Create your own environment.
Instead of moving on when a workplace doesn’t meet your needs, reshape it through your actions. Work with your team in a way that feels true and honest, sharing your competencies with complete confidence. In doing so, you will brand yourself within your organization and begin to attract people with similar values to your team. As your team expands to include more people with your mindset, your environment will evolve to one where you want to work.
5.Have others instill confidence in you.
People who are able to cut through bureaucracy and make decisions quickly are rewarded for having the confidence to get the job done. According to a study from Knowledge@Wharton and SAP, 62 percent of business leaders say they are overburdened with complicated process and this inhibits productivity and performance. Raise your hand to tackle a few of these projects. Once your peers recognize that you are a problem solver, they will instill confidence within you. Having others reinforce this belief will help you realize your potential.
6. Fake it ‘til you make it.
When my children were small, I often read them Winnie the Pooh. In the story, Christopher Robin tells Winnie, “You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” In much the same spirit, you are more competent than you know. So act like you know it all! Adopting that mindset will help you take more risks and overcome any fear of failure.
7. Be the change you wish to see.
Once you’ve taken steps to build your own confidence, don’t forget to give someone else a hand up. Through peer coaching, you can partner with others to create a positive change.
Choose someone who works closely enough to see you in action. Each week, give positive feedback to one another on the strengths that you have each displayed. By refusing to accept self-critical behavior and helping one another to erase blind spots, you can enhance one another’s confidence. Better yet, you’ll be helping your peer advance her prospects while liberating talent that will benefit your organization.