I would have to say that confidence is the most important characteristic needed today to enrich executive presence and be perceived as a promotable leader. Indeed, you have to be competent. But you also have to support those credentials with persuasive confidence to project your ideas, present your solutions, and assert your leadership personality. Otherwise all the competence in the world and an advanced MBA degree won’t necessarily get you noticed and rewarded.
Avoid the comparison game
Where do you start, and what’s the initial step? The first thing I did to elevate my confidence and esteem was to stop comparing myself to all the other leaders in the organization.
Women are especially vulnerable to this “me vs. them” pitfall, because they are competing in a male-dominated arena where it’s easy to torpedo your confidence by feeling like you don’t belong at the top. Replace that self-defeating attitude with mindset techniques and daily habits that empower you on your own terms. We’re all unique, so why should you grade yourself based on someone else’s resume or brand?
Developing own iconic confidence
When you meet an iconic leader you can spot that kind of amazing leadership from across the room. They weren’t born with it, but they trained hard – just like professionally coached athletes. They win the game before they even walk out onto the playing field because whatever innate confidence or self esteem they may have is fully backed by practical strategies and creative techniques.
Practice being who you aspire to be
Armed with proven executive presence skills and internal confidence you’ll get up every morning a little earlier and more energized. You’ll know how to take advantage of every situation and resource to further your career advancement. You’ll be driven from within, and that will make you unique, authentic, and distinct from the competition. Why wait for an elusive promotion to start making that happen? Practice becoming who you want to be and you’ll evolve into that person. That’s why the executives I coach frequently earn truly predictable promotions. They are already performing at the next level before the promotion becomes available, so they step into that role fully confident and qualified.
Raising your self esteem
People with low self-esteem tend to see the world as a hostile place and themselves as its victim. As a result, they are reluctant to express and assert themselves, miss out on experiences and opportunities, and feel powerless to change things. All this lowers their self-esteem still further, sucking them into a downward spiral.
If you feel that you suffer from poor self-esteem, there are a number of simple things that you can do to boost yourself and, hopefully, break out of the downward spiral. You may already be doing some of these things, and you certainly don’t need to be doing them all. Just do those that you feel most comfortable with.
Improving your poise and presence
Outstanding executive poise and presence only comes through practicing until you can respond – without being reactive – almost instinctively. So imagine an unexpected worse-case scenario at work. Now think of three ways you might respond to solve that problem, overcome that obstacle, or diffuse the tension and arrive at a faster solution. Creatively troubleshoot one realistic scenario each morning. Think of 3-4 ways you could successful handle it. Doing so is like practicing your golf swing. You start to develop your solution oriented 2nd nature. That’s because grappling with “what-if” scenarios trains your brain to tap into the subconscious mind for answers. Then when a real problem arises, you’ll be better prepared, calmer, and more poised because you’ve rehearsed it before.
Thinking positively about yourself
Remind yourself that, despite your problems, you are a unique, special, and valuable person, and that you deserve to feel good about yourself. You are, after all, a miracle of consciousness, the consciousness of the universe. Identify and challenge any negative thoughts about yourself such as ‘I am loser’, ‘I never do anything right’, or ‘No one really likes me’. Self-confidence is extremely important in almost every aspect of our lives, yet so many people struggle to find it. Sadly, this can be a vicious circle: people who lack self-confidence can find it difficult to become successful. After all, most people are reluctant to back a project that’s being pitched by someone who was nervous, fumbling, and overly apologetic.
On the other hand, you might be persuaded by someone who speaks clearly, who holds his or her head high, who answers questions assuredly, and who readily admits when he or she does not know something.
Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their peers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways in which a self-confident person finds success. The good news is that self-confidence really can be learned and built on. And, whether you’re working on your own confidence or building the confidence of people around you, it’s well-worth the effort!
Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on. We gain a sense of self-efficacy when we see ourselves (and others similar to ourselves) mastering skills and achieving goals that matter in those skill areas. This is the confidence that, if we learn and work hard in a particular area, we’ll succeed; and it’s this type of confidence that leads people to accept difficult challenges, and persist in the face of setbacks.
Robert Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). — firstname.lastname@example.org/www.lird.co.zw.