You might be a founder, but are you a leader?
This question might strike you as odd. After founding your own business and establishing a company, you should be able to call yourself a leader, right? After all, who, if not you, is driving your venture forward?
That is correct. However, there are many styles of leadership and some of them are more viable than others. In this article, we will discuss the importance of confidence in leadership.
Why Is It Important to Be a Confident Leader?
Being a confident leader has a great impact on your business and the people you work with. While confidence alone is no guarantee of success, it certainly helps you on your journey as an entrepreneur.
A leader who lacks confidence will find themselves crippled by their own fears. They try to avoid making tough choices or backpedals as soon as they are met with criticism. It is much harder to stand up for your business if you lack the confidence to do so, and it negatively affects your team’s motivation and commitment.
Confident leaders are not afraid to tackle difficult conversations and work on resolving problems. They believe that what they are doing is the right thing. Instead of doubting themselves, they quickly solve problems when they arise, not letting them fester and grow worse .
Being a confident leader means to be confident in your team. They were hired because of their skills and abilities. A confident leader realises this and has no fear asking their team for input. This, in turn, inspires your team and makes them feel valued and appreciated, creating a positive environment.
What Are the Characteristics of a Confident Leader?
When you think of the ideal leader there are many traits that might come to mind. One of them is confidence. A leader’s role is to guide others, to encourage and to motivate. These things all require a certain degree of confidence.
But what exactly is confidence?
This question is hard to answer, but there are some traits and characteristics confident leaders share.
Integrity is the quality of having strong ethical principles that are followed at all times. Honesty and consistency are central parts of integrity. The importance of this trait lies in the ability to establish trust.
Leaders who show integrity are seen as trustworthy. They will not go back on their word. Therefore, their teams find it easier to believe in their leader and to follow their decisions.
Confidence and courage go hand in hand. A confident leader is not afraid of taking risks. This does not mean that they make rash decisions, but they will take risks which are planned.
Even failure does not discourage a confident leader. Instead, they view their mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.
Confident leaders envision positive outcomes. They believe that their skills, talents, and team they built around themselves will be enough to achieve their goals. They are confident in their ability to shape their future positively.
It is impossible to know and do everything by yourself. Confident leaders know this and they are not afraid of admitting their own short-comings. Instead of hiding their weaknesses, they attempt to learn and adapt.
Once you are confident enough to put your ego to the side, there will be room for you to grow and improve yourself.
Sometimes it’s hard to keep calm, especially when you are passionate about your project. However, as a leader, it is important to take a deep breath and keep calm. On your journey as an entrepreneur, you will inevitably find yourself in a difficult or stressful situation.
A confident leader tries to remain calm, collects data, and tackles the issue with a clear head.
The affinity of taking action and making fast, concise decisions sets confident leaders apart from others. They won’t just sit around, second-guessing themselves – they decide to take action.
Confidence and arrogance are only divided by a thin line. This is the reason a good leader knows how to show gratitude. They acknowledge the accomplishments of those around them and use their position for the benefit of their company and the people who built it.
How Can You Build Your Confidence as a Leader?
Perhaps you’ve seen it before. Whether it is a successful entrepreneur or a celebrity, some people simply seem to drip with confidence, but where does this confidence come from?
Nobody is born confident. Confidence is something that a person develops. They are confident because of the experiences they made and the successes they gained.
But if time and experience are the only factors, then how is it possible for some young, early career leaders to ooze confidence, while other more experienced ones still project a lack of confidence even after many years in their respective field?
Confidence is a skill – it needs to be learned and practised.
Your goal isn’t to always be confident, it’s projecting confidence.
Confidence is something that can be faked, even if you feel absolutely terrified on the inside. Before your next meeting or business call, try to take a deep breath to compose yourself. Calm down and tell yourself that you can accomplish your goals.
Pay attention to your physical appearance. Try to work out and get in shape if you feel self-conscious about the way you look. Make sure that your clothes are clean and well-fitted.
Make use of ‘power poses’. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy explained this concept in her Ted talk in more detail. Your body language will directly influence how others perceive you. In general, you want your body language to be open and engaged. Don’t cross your arms or your legs, instead try to put your hands on the table. Lean forward and maintain eye contact and others will automatically perceive you as more confident.
Sometimes you can even trick your own body into feeling more powerful and less stressed simply by striking a power pose and holding it for a few minutes.
Let Your Voice Be Heard
If you want to be taken seriously, keep your voice clear, firm and loud. Don’t yell, but make sure that everyone within the room can hear you. Avoid trailing off at the end of your sentences and don’t use expressions to try to soften your words. For example, try to leave out fillers like ‘I think’, ‘I feel like’ or ‘I hope’.
Don’t be afraid of silence. You don’t need to fill every gap in a conversation, so don’t ramble on if you have nothing left to say.
On a more figurative note, let your voice be heard and don’t shy away from expressing your opinions and ideas. Be open, even if you fear you might be met with rejection. If you are not confident in yourself and your ideas, nobody else will be.
Learn how to say no. Know your limits. If someone steps past your boundaries, don’t try to compromise. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to precisely communicate your wants and expectations – be it towards potential business partners or even your own team.
Know Your Worth
Imposter Syndrome is defined as the experience of feeling like a fraud, based on an inherent doubt of one’s abilities. It seems to disproportionately affect high-achieving people who have difficulty in accepting their accomplishments. They feel as though they aren’t deserving of their success, often accrediting it to nothing but dumb luck.
In their article “Feeling Like a Fraud: The Impostor Phenomenon in Science Writing”, The Open Notebook reports that researchers estimate that up to 70% of the public has experienced this in their lives.
Constantly feeling as though you are undeserving of your accomplishments will take a toll on your mental health.
Therefore it”s important for you to know your own strengths and weaknesses. Make a list of all the skills you have and remind yourself of your previous achievements. Don’t feel shy about celebrating your success.
Chances are, you reached the position you have by earning it. Your team believes in your capability and it’s on you to prove them right.
Stop Avoiding Conflict
Conflict is inevitable and as a leader, it is your responsibility to handle and deal with conflicts as they arise.
Procrastinating on solving a difficult problem might make you feel better in the short-term, but it will only make things harder in the long run. Don’t tolerate issues when they pop up. Hesitation will not make your problems magically disappear.
Think about what you have been tolerating. Stop trying to find excuses and justifications and instead take action against bad practices, bad attitudes, and bad habits.
Confidence in leadership is crucial for the success of a business. While some people might be naturally inclined to be leaders, confidence is something that can be learned and developed.
Working on all the aspects we mentioned in this article at the same time might seem overwhelming and impossible. Instead, try to pick one or two aspects you want to improve and slowly build up your confidence to unleash your full potential as a leader.