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                Cultivating Leadership Confidence

                Michelle Sales/17 April 2024
                1 minute read time

                We had a great day yesterday leading a Confidence Workshop as part of the WomenRise program that we have partnered with BMA/BHP to develop and deliver. This is the second component of the 2024 program and it was amazing to feel the energy in the room and see the progress these women are already making. 

                Confidence is such an important trait to be working on as part of suite of learnings to unlock our leadership potential. Often, we think of confidence as something that the lucky few are born with and the rest are left wishing for. And this simply is not true. 

                Think of someone who you say is confident – your leader, a colleague or someone in the public eye, perhaps. Chances are you’d describe them as poised, hopeful and positive. They know their strengths and they know their weaknesses, too. 

                But confidence is not a personality trait or a fixed attribute; it’s the outcome of the thoughts we think and the actions we take. And the best thing about confidence is that it’s learnable! 

                With consistent effort, and the courage to take a risk, we can gradually expand our confidence and, with it, our capacity to build more of it. Here’s how to do that in four ways. 

                1. Show up as the real you 

                Having the ability to show up with real, grounded confidence means you know yourself, you can be yourself and you show up as the best version of yourself. This is not arrogance or bravado. And it’s more than getting out of bed, splashing some water on your face and fronting up at your desk hoping you can cope with what the day throws at you. 

                You believe you can draw on what you are great at. You believe what you’re good at is important, and that it’s aligned with how you are working. You believe that you are valuable and valued. 

                Showing up as truly confident over a sustained period of time is something that needs to be built from the inside out. ‘Faking it until you make it’ only gets you so far and for so long. Trying to pretend you have the confidence needed to get the job done can be exhausting. 

                2. Stand up for what you believe 

                At work, and especially when you are exercising leadership, you will find yourself in positions where you need to stand up for, with or against something. That might be standing up for what you are passionate about or for your team that needs more support. 

                When it comes to building your confidence in this regard ask yourself: 

                • What do you VALUE? To speak up, you have to know what to speak about. To stand up for your beliefs, you have to know what you stand for. 
                • What is your PURPOSE? Steve Jobs once said, ‘Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.’ That’s a clear sense of purpose. He was clear about what he stood for and why, and you need to be too. 
                • How RESILIENT are you? Inevitably, when we stand up, we are putting ourselves at risk of rejection. Building your capacity to get back up again is important in maintaining your confidence during adversity and setbacks. 

                3. Speak up and create impact 

                People often tell me that they don’t speak up because they are not confident and they fear being judged. My response is, ‘So you would rather be judged on just sitting there and saying nothing instead of taking the opportunity to have a voice and potentially getting it wrong?’ The likelihood is that we are going to be judged one way or another. 

                Many of us also back away from speaking up to avoid conflict. We see conflict as bad, rather than being able to reframe it as healthy debate. As a result, we keep our opinions to ourselves – thinking that if we just keep doing our job and delivering the outcomes, we will get ahead. 

                Yet we must be willing to speak up, even when it is hard or unpopular or you feel like it will cause conflict. As Martin Luther King Jr put it, ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter’. So use your voice! 

                4. Step up your performance 

                You need to have the confidence and skills, and the ability to take on an element of risk, no matter what role or industry you work in. To step up confidently, you need to master your mindset, build your personal brand and have great sponsors. 

                This often means you need to do things differently tomorrow from how you are today. You need to expand your comfort zone – and be confident enough to do this – and be aware of your context and what the environment requires of you because this is always changing. 

                Continue to challenge yourself and ask, ‘If what got me here won’t get me there, what do I need to be doing now to step up?’ 

                If you’re unsure where to start then grab my book – The Power of Real Confidence – and use the Assess Your Confidence to make a start. Just take the first step. When you do this in line with all the other confidence skills then you will start to cultivate your confidence and unlock your potential. 

                And thank you BMA and Tamara Barden for having the #confidence in us to coach and support your talented women to lead at their best!

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                Michelle Sales/17 April 2024