“If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.” – Carl Lewis
There are a lot of things that leaders are expected to do. Leaders are supposed to think strategically, create a great culture, communicate a compelling vision, etc. If you search the internet for “important things that leaders do” you’ll end up with 708 million results. Leaders have a lot of things on their plates.
Of all of those things, there is one that I think doesn’t get enough attention. Leaders need to be great at building the confidence of those they lead. I would argue that, if you were to rank leader responsibilities in order of importance, building confidence would be near the top.
When I say that leaders need to be great at building confidence, I don’t mean they need to be great at building the confidence of their people in the leadership team. It’s not about you. I mean leaders need to be great at building the confidence the people they lead have in themselves.
For your organization to achieve at a high level, you need your people to be the best they can be on a consistent basis. That will never happen if they aren’t confident in themselves. It is absolutely impossible for people lacking in confidence to achieve great things. It will not happen.
So how do you build that confidence? It’s about more than just positive reinforcement. Telling someone how great they are is nice, but that’s only a small part of it. People gain confidence by doing things successfully. When people take on some kind of task and complete it successfully, they gain confidence. When that happens over and over again, the impact builds exponentially.
Wait a minute, you’re thinking. They need to do things successfully to build confidence, but they won’t do things well without confidence. Isn’t that some kind of vicious cycle? How do you start?
The answer is to start small. Find small steps that your people can take successfully and build from there. If the step was too big, cut it in half and try again. Once you’ve found the level they can achieve, gradually take on things that are more difficult. The more they achieve, the more confidence they’ll have, and the more they’ll think they can achieve.
What baby steps can your people take? What can you do to push them to accomplish challenging things? What support can you give them along the way? Take time to map it out. It will be one of the most impactful things you can do. Start today.