The other day, a friend asked me how I get over all the little challenges that now make up most of my day. I answered before I could even blink.
“It takes leading with confidence. Even if at times doubt becomes… your default state!”
To lead with confidence is to remain true to yourself and your values as you take responsibility for moving on, up and forward.
Yes, you lead for results. But any action you take originates deep in your mind, buried in your inner chatter. Where some voices are enabling and others limiting.
To lead with confidence is to decide which voice to listen to and when. The more appropriate the voice, the better the end result!
Here are my 6 duties to lead with confidence:
1. Adopt mindfulness
The core foundation of mindfulness is to give your full attention to what’s happening around you and inside you.
Having mindfulness rituals could be a game-changer for you.
I recall a crisis meeting a few years back, chaired by a guy I didn’t know because he’d just come in as program leader. He was ruthless with the problem. Yet, he was so delicate with each individual in the room. I saw him acknowledging every emotion, listening to each person, making sure all felt confident in their abilities to help find a resolution.
He was 100% committed to creating a collaborative space.
He was listening 200% to verbal and non-verbal communication.
And, he was present 300%.
His mindful leadership was a great example of what it is to lead with confidence, taking responsibility for it all: execution, people and the invisible world in between.
2. Get a mentor to show you how to lead with confidence
The influence of my mentors went far beyond knowledge and experience. I can honestly say that my mentors shifted my mindset from fear to growth.
Their open, honest feedback helped restore my confidence when I failed miserably. Their guidance on the direction of my life saved the day more than once. And all the introductions they made were a game-changer in expanding my network.
How to get started with mentoring? Follow your intuition and ask someone you trust.
Hey, isn’t it the smallest baby step you could take to lead with confidence?
3. Improve your Emotional Intelligence
If you’re serious about leading yourself or others, you can’t avoid working on emotional intelligence.
With emotional intelligence under your belt, you operate with higher awareness of others, their cognitive patterns and emotional reality. You adapt your words, your behaviour, your attitude for better social interactions. And you lead from your heart.
To lead with confidence comes with a great byproduct: inspiration. But you won’t inspire anything or anyone if you’re not relatable in the first place! And that’s exactly what emotional intelligence can solve for you.
4. Stay positive with reframing
Taking the lead is taking responsibility. And inevitably, taking action.
But sometimes, you’re stuck. You feel something’s missing and don’t know what it is. And you procrastinate because let’s be honest, as humans, that’s what we do.
If you want to lead with confidence, you’ll need to learn to get rid of anything that deprives you of your decision power. And embrace a positive perspective. Good news: it’s easier than you think.
The best advice I ever received was from Ana Forrest, fierce yoga teacher, as I resisted a difficult asana:
“If you’re stuck, ask yourself what part of it can you do?”
One huge problem is always harder to resolve than 10 small ones! Sometimes, working on a tiny part of the problem is enough to shift everything to a positive perspective, bring back constructive thoughts and explore problems with curiosity.
5. Develop a self-exploration routine
I can honestly tell you that a self-exploration routine is one simple thing that shifted the way I go about leadership.
It’s a safe space to process your failures, let go of your frustrations, celebrate your own little wins… when no one’s watching. And for me, it’s a place where I can forgive myself.
I often tell people the most difficult — and common — act of leadership is to forgive others for not meeting the mental picture you created for them (obviously, an illusion). But how often do you give yourself permission to tell yourself what you said to others a hundred times: “It’s OK, you didn’t know?”.
Self-exploration is a safe outlet for your inner world and the best way to develop your confidence as a leader.
6. Clear your mind with meditation
Lack of clarity is one thing no leader can afford.
Being unclear on your direction of travel or simply having a lack of focus can really slow down your progress. Not to mention the devastating impact on your motivation (as you feel like you’re never getting anywhere).
To move on with clarity, you need the discipline to pick your battles and the inner strength to stick to your priorities.
A beautiful yet effective way to work on both (and become a better leader) is meditation. I meditate every single day. Sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes 20, sometimes longer. As I get myself clean having a shower every day, I make sure I clear my mind every day with meditation.
Mark Twain said, “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval”.
There are no secrets to confidence or shortcuts. It’s never easy to give ourselves permission to speak the difficult words. To make the hard decisions. To find clarity when we’re stuck. And to be a source of inspiration for the teams we lead.
But when you set the intention to lead with confidence and trust yourself, small wins show up every day.
Leadership gets easier. And challenges become another task on your do-to-list!