How to Be a More Confident Leader
When you own a creative agency, never underestimate the importance of self-confidence in leadership. Your business success is founded on building your confidence as a leader.
You see, self-confidence is the keystone that allows your leadership to flourish. When you feel confident, the confidence levels of your team will improve. I recently read an article by Francisco Dao in Inc.com, in which he eloquently explains why confidence is the number one of leadership qualities:
‘Self-confidence is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows. Trying to teach leadership without first building confidence is like building a house on a foundation of sand. It may have a nice coat of paint, but it is ultimately shaky at best.’
And herein lies the problem for today’s leadership and management teams. Business coaching focuses on the leadership skills of communication, empowerment, and passion. But try to find leadership and management training that centers around building self-confidence first, and you’ll have a tough time.
Yet we know that a lack of confidence will destroy your ability to lead your team members out of their comfort zone and into high performance. In short, confident leaders can make great leaders.
The good news? Here’s our practical guide to how to be more confident in yourself and build confidence as a leader.
The tips I share in this article will help you feel good about yourself, and your ability to lead, by building confidence as a leader.
How to be more confident and feel good as a business leader
Whatever your goal, it helps to have a clear vision of what you want and how you plan on achieving it. The goal here is to build your own confidence. We can condense the process into elements of confidence:
Know your boundaries
Let your voice be heard
Let’s look at each in turn.
The first step to being a confident leader is to understand yourself as an individual. It’s important to know your strengths and weaknesses, so you can work on them accordingly. This also means knowing what motivates you and how your personality affects the way you perceive situations around you.
Here are three things to start doing today that will help you know yourself better.
Know your worth
Building confidence in leadership – your leadership – starts with you. It is crucial that you are confident in your abilities and value. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips that can help with finding your worth:
Understand the skills that are needed to lead effectively
Make a list of the skills you bring to the table
Describe how you deliver on those skills
With this one simple exercise, you should already become more confident. You’ve got the leadership skills needed to deliver, and you know how to deliver.
Remember the times you have succeeded
When you look back on your career, it is important to learn from your mistakes. Even more important is to remember your successes. When things are not going well, it is not because of your shortcomings but because of larger forces that are beyond your control.
So, what happens if we’re not at the top of our game at this moment?
As a leader, it is important to remain optimistic and remember that there are moments in which you have succeeded as a leader. And understand this: you’re still that person who can achieve great things.
Go for small wins during your day
It is important to start small and achieve what you can. When you start with small wins, you can work your way up by doing more and achieving more as time goes on. It’s important to do this regularly because it will become a habit over time and help you build a mindset of confidence.
Not sure where to start? There are tons of small wins that you can achieve during the day.
For example, you could promise yourself to read one page of a book every time you take a break from working on your computer for one hour. Or, when you drink water, promise yourself to count how many glasses you drank before lunchtime. Delivering on simple, personal goals is a great way to build your self-confidence.
Leaders must focus on their own strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to focus your time and energy on actions that lead to success.
Focus also helps build confidence through knowing what is important and how you are performing based on your priorities.
Here’s the thing about focus that many don’t realize: it’s a perpetual circle. The more you practice focus, the more confident you become in your ability to stay focused on your goals – and the more of your goals you will achieve.
Here are my three top tips to help you stay focused:
Set goals that you can accomplish by the end of the day
If you set goals for yourself that you know are not realistic, it will make it difficult for you to accomplish them. When you don’t accomplish your goals, you’ll feel like a failure.
A long to-do list also makes you feel like a failure. You only have a set amount of time in each day, and everyone wants a piece of it. A shorter to-do list of a maximum of three goals will help you build your confidence.
Make promises and decisions with three-tier justification
Never make a decision or promise unless you can justify it with three reasons. For example:
Bob wants to have a meeting with you today. How does that benefit you? How does that benefit your business? Will Bob’s work grind to a halt if you meet tomorrow, not today?
Here’s how the process of three-tier justification might work in your business:
You’re considering investing in a new computer system. Does it make sense to spend so much? The new computer system will deliver real-time communication between all teams, eliminating duplicated work. This will reduce work package time, frustration, and errors, and enhance your product delivery to clients. Clients will be happier, and the business can take on more work as well as raise prices without losing clients.
This is just one example, but I hope you get the idea.
Focus on the things you do best
Leaders who are confident in their ability to handle challenges don’t need to keep control over everything. They focus on what they do best and delegate or drop anything else. This helps them stay productive by not being distracted by issues that they aren’t able to tackle on their own.
Look at your to-do list every day. Does it include things that you shouldn’t be doing? What can you delegate? What can you drop? Trim your to-do list to those three important goals.
Know your boundaries
A confident business leader understands their limitations and works within them instead of trying to be someone they are not. They understand how important self-awareness is to make the most out of their strengths and weaknesses. With this knowledge, you will be better at doing these four things:
Learn to say No
One of the key skills for becoming a confident leader is learning how to say no.
As I explain in my article, ‘The power of saying no and the ability to walk away as a business leader’:
‘The power of no allows you to focus on what is most important to improve the overall health of your business. The benefits of saying no are numerous: it reduces stress, increases productivity, increases happiness, improves innovation and creativity, and reduces the possibility of business owner burnout.’
Stop avoiding conflict
As a leader, you have an obligation to your team and the clients that you serve. Conflict is inevitable, but when it comes to the work of a leader, it becomes necessary and unavoidable. You must stop avoiding conflict. You need to learn how to handle conflict and deal with it whenever it arises.
Remember, your employees and your clients need guidance. You really can say no to a customer and stay in the helicopter!
When you can handle conflict effectively, you can help your team members know how they should approach conflicts in their day-to-day interactions.
Solve what you have been tolerating
Now that you have stopped avoiding conflict, it’s time to solve what you have been tolerating. Time makes all conflicts worse.
Think about what you have been tolerating. It doesn’t matter why, it’s time to take action against bad practices, bad attitudes, poor communication, etc. Tolerating these things will not make them go away, it will only make the team’s performance worse – affecting productivity and morale.
As a leader, your actions create a culture of improvement and keep your team motivated in the long run. Tackle those things you have been tolerating. Put this on your list of daily goals.
Don’t be afraid of asking for what you need
Leadership is not an easy job. It requires strength, confidence, patience, and charisma. As a leader, you will find it hard to ask for what you need from your team because asking for help is often (mistakenly, in my opinion) seen as a sign of weakness. It really isn’t.
To be a confident leader and avoid feeling trapped in a problem rather than being able to solve it, you should be open to asking for help – even when it feels uncomfortable.
There are many ways to ask for what you need. Here are some ideas for you to try:
Let your team know what your goals are and why they’re important
Figure out how much of something you need to achieve your goal
When asking for help, frame it as a mutually beneficial situation
Don’t be afraid of asking for what you need. It can help you get ahead, leads your team more effectively, and cements your employees’ feelings of self-worth.
Let your voice be heard
To be a confident leader, you must express your opinions and ideas. This openness will increase your credibility and build trust in others.
Now, I know that, sometimes, it is hard to resist the urge not to share your ideas because you are afraid of rejection. However, if you are not confident enough in yourself, nobody else will be either. It’s not just about speaking up but having the confidence to know that you will be heard and respected for your opinions. It also helps to remember who you are and what makes up who you are as a person.
So, never be afraid of expressing your strong point of view. You’ll be surprised at the positive reactions you will receive. Clients want to know that you have a plan and that you know how to get there. And don’t forget that you know more than your clients do.
How do you best frame your point of view so that you are heard?
Make a bold offer. Simplify a proposal to a client to the one or two things that will make a real difference to them. Some people might be seeking a straightforward solution or a quick fix. Others might need a new approach that aligns with their own big-picture thinking.
A bold offer is only successful if it meets the client’s needs and achieves their goals in an interesting and unique way. It needs to address their fears, overcome their objections, and make them want you on board. Your voice is crucial to this end goal.
Reach your unlimited potential in leadership
Do you want to build a confident, high-performing business? It all starts with you. As Steve Jobs once said, ‘The best leaders in the world don’t tell people what to do but show them how.’ Building confidence in leadership is only achievable when you are confident as a leader and demonstrate it daily.
You are the one person you will never outgrow, no matter how much experience others have. You may not know it yet, but your potential for leadership is boundless and unlimited. All it takes is confidence.
I’ve only scratched the surface in this article. To learn more about building your self-confidence as the leader of a creative agency, watch my new ‘Consistent Confidence’ webinar.