NextGen Know-How: How to Build Your Confidence as a Leader

May 2018: Vol 41 No 5
Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR
Action is required to build up experience and achieve results.
Business leader engaging confidently with his team

I’ve heard about the benefits of meditation for years, and about seven years ago, I bought a book on how to meditate. It sat on my bookshelf for years as I accumulated additional books on meditation and mindfulness. Eventually, I started reading a few of these books, becoming more knowledgeable about meditation techniques and practices. But I still wasn’t meditating! It wasn’t until two years ago that I finally took action and enrolled in a meditation course. Once I started actually doing meditation, I started to experience the benefits, and now I meditate (almost) daily. All those years of learning, studying and contemplating meditation didn’t bring results; it was taking action that was important.

One of the most valuable characteristics of successful people is that they have a bias for action. What holds many professionals back from success is spending too much time planning, preparing, thinking, organizing, analyzing and procrastinating. Action is required for success. This doesn’t mean that successful people don’t plan and organize, but once they have a plan in place, they don’t wait for things to be perfect to get moving. 

Leadership is an action. Leadership is not a title or a position. It’s not a hat you put on every day when you come into the office. True, exceptional leadership requires you to do something. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone and making your vision and goals a reality.

What does leadership in action look like?

  • Providing meaningful feedback to your employees—both positive and constructive.
  • Coaching your employees to bring out their best performance.
  • Challenging that employee who tries to upward delegate a task to you, instead of doing the task yourself.  
  • Walking around the office and connecting with each individual.
  • Building relationships with your colleagues.
  • Modeling the behaviors and actions you expect of others.
  • Communicating clearly about goals and success factors.
  • Following up and following through—doing what you say you will do.
  • Being accountable and taking ownership.
  • Mentoring and sharing knowledge to develop your staff.
  • Being approachable and supportive.
  • Prioritizing people—scheduling coaching sessions and check-ins with your staff.

Leadership is not just sitting in an office and creating a strategy and business plan. While that’s an important first step, a great vision on paper alone does nothing; a great vision communicated clearly and repeatedly through multiple channels inspires collaboration and results. Great leaders act on their vision.

I am often asked by participants in my leadership programs how you can build confidence. Whether you are new in a management position or a seasoned executive, the best way to build your confidence is to take action. To succeed at anything in life, you have to first do something. If you stand on the sidelines and play it safe, you will not learn anything. In order to get feedback and learn from mistakes, you must make mistakes. You can read hundreds of books on leadership and attend classes on how to be a good manager. But if you don’t put that knowledge into action, you will not see results. Results build confidence. Leadership requires effort. 

One of my favorite quotes is from Jim Rohn: “What is easy to do is also easy not to do. That is the difference between success and failure.”

It’s not hard to schedule coaching sessions, model great behaviors, take ownership or connect with your employees. But it’s easy to not do these things. Successful people don’t have more time in the day than anyone else. They understand that an essential skill for success is to prioritize and take action on what is important. That is how you build your knowledge, skills, abilities, experience and, ultimately, your confidence. 

Instead of reading this article and closing your browser, take two minutes right now to act on an important task that will lead you to the results you want. You will be one step closer to success.

Laurie Maddalena, MBA, CPCC, PHR, is a certified executive coach, leadership consultant and founder of Envision Excellence, LLC in the Washington, D.C., area. Her mission is to create exceptional cultures by teaching leaders how to be exceptional. Maddalena facilitates management and executive training programs and team-building sessions and speaks at leadership events. Prior to starting her business, she was an HR executive at a $450 million credit union. Contact her at 240.605.7940 or lmaddalena@envisionexcellence.net.

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