We are each ultimately responsible for our level of confidence and support on any given task in our lives. Be it at home, work, or anywhere else. We often take our feelings around confidence and support for granted and accept them as accurate without challenging them.
If you are empirically and demonstrably good at a specific task, yet you regularly receive negative feedback from others, it eventually grates on you, and your confidence takes a hit. Ongoing negative feedback is an insidious curse because the demoralizing result is the same even when the criticism is clearly unfounded.
Imagine you have a large circle of sycophants who support everything you do. Their motivations are irrelevant; they may be political, they could be intimidated by you, or they might have clouded judgment. Regardless, eventually, you will believe them, even if you are empirically and demonstrably incompetent at a specific task.
That is why reflection is essential to your growth and development.
- Do you have a high or low level of confidence in your abilities?
- Do you have a high or low level of support for your initiatives?
Your answers will, of course, be subjective; we are talking about feelings, which can be knee-jerk and ephemeral, yet they provide a terrific temperature check.
What if your answers are low or variable?
How do you increase your confidence? Confidence results from feeling competent at something. You’ve done it, or something similar, before, and you have been successful. Even those with natural talents do not start something off at expert status. It takes practice, repetition, and learning to feel justifiable confidence.
How do you increase your support? Generally, support comes through other people. However, it begins with you. How supportive of yourself are you? Do you have positive thoughts running through your head, or do you routinely diminish your accomplishments? How often have you called yourself a ‘’stupid idiot’’ when you forgot to pick up milk at the grocery store? Isn’t that is a little harsh?
Where you find support varies. Perhaps you feel well-supported by nature, God, or your family. If you believe the maxim that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with, are you well-supported and encouraged by these people? Support is not platitudes. Sometimes it is people who love you telling you; you’ve been acting like a jerk. That is far more supportive than quietly putting up with you.
All of this applies to you and those you lead. One of your roles is to ensure that the people who depend on you for direction and inspiration also receive your support and that you build their confidence.
- A direct report that has low confidence and low support will feel ignored. How much does an ignored person contribute to the team?
- A direct report with low confidence and high support may feel encouraged, provided you ensure your efforts focus on greater skill-building for them.
- A direct report with high confidence and low support will feel frustrated. Many workers are highly skilled but cannot use their skills properly either because they are in the wrong job or their manager ignores them. These inferior managers have either abdicated their responsibility or feel threatened. Effective leaders, however, recognize this frustration immediately and make it a priority to ensure they hear directly from the direct report. They support the person, if not the person’s ideas.
- A direct report with high confidence and high support is the foundation of a high-performing team. There is great joy in being in the company of competent people and celebrating their regular accomplishments. It’s not always a cakewalk to get there, but people with these attributes are what you want surrounding you. Your role is to get people in that zone where they feel valued and keep them there. If you are not achieving that endeavor, the rest of your leadership accomplishments are moot.
In what ways can you lift the confidence of those around you and support them?
Organize Your Thinking
You can not invest all your resources in everything. You will not solve every problem at once.
Determine what you can afford and invest it in the now, the new, and the next.
- Now is the current reality.
- New is what has just arrived, but you have not addressed it yet.
- Next is what is most likely coming around the corner.
Neglecting any will create a blind spot. Your bias, risk tolerance, and perspective will determine the percentage of attention you give each.
Give each of these your attention.
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