In February I was asked to speak at a Fortune 500 company on the topic of “5 Keys to Confidence.” While some people think that high-level leaders already have plenty of confidence, that’s a myth. I constantly meet with VPs and SVPs and even CEOs who confide in me that they lack genuine confidence. But your secret lack of self-confidence will undermine you.
That’s true before you are awarded a promotion as well as afterwards, when you in your new position. Over the years I’ve come to realize that leadership confidence is more important than technical skills, educational background, and experience. Here’s a brief recap of what I covered in that Fortune 500 session around the 5 Keys to Confidence.
1) Fine-Tune Your Vision of What You Truly Want
Before you can be confident you have to feel that internal sense of purpose. Here are some key questions to consider. What unique value do you want to bring to the organization and to your employees and colleagues? What aspect of your leadership work makes you feel the most passionate? Where do you love to invest your energy and then identify with the results? You have to uncover the deeper meaning in what you do. That will build your confidence like a core muscle.
2) Give Your Confidence Muscle Daily Workouts
Unless you practice and train your mind with this kind of internal inquiry, you won’t automatically gain confidence. You have to focus on the purpose behind your actions that fuel that natural sense of pride and self-worth. You have to work on seeing yourself as next-level capable. Don’t let some minor setback define you. Spend a few minutes each day to have a dialog with yourself that highlights your positive gifts. Acknowledge your greatness and quiet the negative talk inside your head that tries to minimize your value.
3) Look the Leadership Part You Want to Play
To gain confidence from within, you need external presence that feeds your confidence. Dress the part you want to play, and each time you look in the mirror you’ll reinforce your self-image. When others see you they’ll respond in a way that also reinforces that leadership identity. That creates a powerful feedback loop that constantly elevates your confidence and the confidence that others have in you as their capable leader.
4) Prepare for the Unexpected
We all know that things happen every day that we cannot control. But you can train yourself to respond to those unexpected situations with calmness and gravitas. Here’s how to do that. Visualize what success looks like for you in that specific situation. In your mind’s eye, play that tape of you succeeding several times, so that it sinks into your subconscious mind. Then when you are faced with a challenging situation, your neurological response will default to the success scenario you’ve programmed into your brain. With practice you’ll be amazed at how this technique can help you maintain poise.
5) Build a Stronger, More Genuine Brand
Confidence is what supports your authentic leadership brand. When you build a brand on that strong foundation people tend to gravitate toward you with promotions and other opportunities. We all love being around confident people. We feel safe and we tend to trust someone who is at ease in their own skin and who can command a room with grace. But confidence usually isn’t something we just have. We must build it one day at a time. You need to practice it through one experience at a time.
The payoff is tremendous, though. When you’re confident you perform at your highest level and exude executive charisma that has a magnetic effect on everyone around you.
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