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How To Build Your Leadership Confidence!

March 5, 2015

Leadership confidence is something we all want.  When someone has it, you can feel the strength radiate from that person.  But as natural as it may seem for some individuals to possess, leadership confidence is something that is learned.

As an Executive Coach, I am often asked by my clients how to improve their confidence. I would like to share with you a few Top Tips on Building Your Leadership Confidence:

1. Education. Education leads to credibility. And, credibility can be a big factor in helping build leadership confidence. If you are considering going back to school, this is always a good investment. But, you don’t necessarily have to quit your job and start fresh. I worked on my MBA while I was working full-time. It did make for a busy few years, but it was 100 per cent worth it. Degrees and diplomas are of great value, but so are designations in your field of interest. You may not need to commit years of work to sharpen your skills and build your credibility. Education can come in many forms. For instance, you may choose to educate yourself through taking an international assignment. Whatever form of education you choose, make sure it excites you!

2.Build Your Confidence Muscle. Building your leadership confidence is just like building muscles within your body. If you want to build muscle, you need to first of all show up at a gym or in this case, bringing your full self to work each day.  Then you need to increase your load to make changes. For someone who is intimidated presenting ideas to more senior leadership, this means throwing yourself into those situations as often as you can. Over time, it gets easier and you will feel more confident.

3. Rejection. Everyone faces rejection. The more you put yourself out there, the more rejection you will face. Sometimes the fear of rejections keeps people operating in the safe zone. But those people tend to feel deep down inside they are not living their full potential.  I encourage you to put yourself out there. Share your ideas. There will be times that others don’t agree with you. So what? Do your research, trust your gut and speak your mind. If you feel deflated after an idea is rejected, don’t let yourself dwell on it too much. This is the quickest path to eroding your leadership confidence. If your idea gets rejected, remind yourself that you were not rejected, just that particular idea. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good idea, just someone saw it a different way. Then get back on the horse quickly and keep sharing yourself and your mind fully.

4. Use Your Body Language. Research out of Harvard by Amy Cuddy shows that our body language plays a big role in determining our internal confidence in leadership work situations. So the idea of ‘faking it until you make it’ is actually true. Got a big meeting coming up? Don’t just rush into it from a previous meeting with no time to reflect. Take a few moments and assume a position of confidence, standing straight with your shoulders and chest wide. Feel what it feels like to be strong and confident. When you go into the meeting, keep that posture. Look others in the eyes and really listen. Acting like a confident leader with your body is one of the best ways to signal to your brain that you actually are a strong leader. Also, dressing the part will help support your inner dialogue and that feeling of being a confident leader. It may be time to go shopping for some new power suits!

5.Learn To Talk Like A Leader. This is an area I find most leaders need a tune up in. There are many decent communicators out there, but those who are strong and confident in the way they talk can quickly forge ahead in their careers and tend to make stronger work relationships along the way. As a keynote speaker myself and a former speechwriter for the CEO of General Motors, I work a lot with leaders and high potentials through my ‘Present Like a Pro’ group training and one-on-one coaching to help prepare individuals for events like Board presentations, Town Halls and investor meetings. Learning how to communicate with confidence is one of the best investments you can make in your career.

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