Could confidence be your leadership superpower?

This blog is provided by Karen J. Hewitt as a companion to her interview for Voice America. This interview Employee Confidence, the new rules of Engagement aired on 6/11/19.

  • Are the goal posts constantly moving?
  • Are you doing more than one job?
  • Do you feel constantly under pressure?
  • Is your organisational structure and strategy changing faster than you can keep up?
  • Has firefighting become your new status quo?

If you answered yes to two or more of the above questions, then chances are you are working in a large corporate, probably in a managerial role.  And if you are managing your stress levels well, and your confidence levels, then give yourself a pat on the back now.

But what if there were a way to keep stress levels at bay, ride out those confidence dips, and improve your leadership skills and your effectiveness in the process?

The answer lies in Employee Confidence, and it’s a win-win for employees and companies.  YOU get far deeper layers of confidence, improving your wellbeing and effectiveness at work, and your employer gets a workforce that not only manages its own stress levels, but operates at peak performance.

Employee Confidence is a culture, a philosophy, a system – a way to get every single employee, not just the “high potentials”, operating at peak performance, and feeling confident and happy in the process.  Engagement levels soar, bringing benefits to both employee and company.

Fundamental to this culture is all employees being encouraged to develop their own confidence  – with four distinct levels.  People tend to progress naturally through the levels as they get older, and particularly if they choose to develop their interpersonal skills, but with a bit of knowledge, it can be fast tracked.

Let’s see if you recognise yourself in these four confidence levels:

  • Level 1 – Internal Confidence – you feel comfortable with yourself and your strengths and weaknesses, and allow yourself, and others, to make mistakes.
  • Level 2 – External Confidence – you know how to conduct yourself in meetings and presentations, to show up as the best version of yourself. You know what to say, how to stand and how to behave.
  • Level 3 – Deep Confidence – you feel a sense of purpose in life, doing work that makes you happy, and are confident of your unique place in the world.
  • Level 4 – Strategic Confidence – you know how to handle work’s high pressure situations, and the difficult conversations, turning them into an opportunity and staying calm in the face of unexpected challenges.

I can see myself in all of these levels now, after three decades in the workplaces, but it wasn’t always the case.  As an ambitious young person, and an introvert, trying to step onto the first rung of the ladder, I learnt the importance of External Confidence the hard way.

I went for a graduate role in my early twenties, and the process included a group challenge, where observers judge your suitability for the role based on your performance in the challenge.

Throughout school and university I’d always hugged the side-lines, remaining relatively invisible, but that day it became clear that this strategy was not going to serve me well in the workplace.

I didn’t get the job – a role I really wanted – because apparently I didn’t have the personality for it.  So I set about getting myself one.

That’s when I instinctively discovered External Confidence – mimicking others more confident than me until I could look and sound credible in a group situation.  I still felt a bit like I was trying to be someone else, but it worked, and I started to get the career success I craved.

External Confidence is a must have skill to succeed in the workplace, and a plethora of courses in communications, body language and presentation skills are available to help us with it.  It’s a minimum standard to compete, and be credible, in today’s corporate workplaces, so if you prefer hiding in the shadows…it’s time to for the butterfly to emerge!

External Confidence is where most people stop developing themselves, but confidence is far more complex a topic than most of us realise.  It’s multi-layered, and each layer is mutually reinforcing.

If you don’t have Internal Confidence to support your External Confidence, then you’ll never feel truly comfortable in front of others, and it’ll stop you radiating the charisma of all great leaders.  When you have it, it will accelerate your influence, and greatly enhance relationships, because a new understanding of yourself always leads to a new understanding of others.  You’ll be known as the person who can handle all kinds of people, and turn the worst performers into the best ones!

Deep Confidence, something I found quite late in life, also supports External Confidence, because it will make you a more influential leader.  When you know not only who you are, but what your purpose is in life, you show up as more authentic – able to take tough decisions with ease, and earning you respect in the process.

Even if you thought that was more than enough Confidence, read on, because there is one more level – Strategic Confidence – giving you the tools you need to tackle high pressure situations at work.  With Strategic Confidence, you know how to prepare for difficult conversations, how to find a win-win for all parties, and how to build rapport with people quickly and easily to get that outcome.

If you are already a confident leader, no doubt much of this discussion has already struck a chord.

Whatever your levels of confidence right now, is it time to make it your leadership superpower?

Why not discover the opportunities offered by all four levels of Employee Confidence, and drive yourself and your teams to even greater levels of engagement and performance!

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Karen J. Hewitt MBA is a multilingual Engagement and Culture Change specialist with proven credentials in creating cross-border leadership movements within organisations.  She is the author of “Employee Confidence – the new rules of Engagement”, finalist in the Leadership category of the Business Book Awards 2019

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