Confidence is one of those things where a little bit goes a long way. If you’re not confident as a manager (especially a new manager), you may appear weak. This weakness will cost you trust in the long run. If you’re too confident, you may seem cocky. This cockiness will cost you respect in the long term. As we discussed before, trust and respect are the twin pillars of a new manager’s success.
After researching this topic, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that there is no combination of words that I can write to make you suddenly confident. The good news is that there are actions you can take that will immediately start building a sense of confidence.
Confidence is one of those things that falls under the “fake it till you make it” category of qualities. The more you act as if you have it, the more of it you will have.
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on “power posing” shows how you can increase your confidence by striking the “superhero” pose (legs apart, chest out and hands on your hips). Just taking this stance for two minutes affects your testosterone and cortisol levels. This is a fascinating talk on her research and is well worth your time.
Yes, this is a temporary boost to get you over a hump. There are, however, habits that build real confidence that lasts. One of my favorite articles on doing so is “7 Habits for Projecting Confidence Instead of Arrogance” by Peter Economy (Inc. Magazine, May 2016). He lists:
1. Admit and accept your mistakes, then apologize for them.
2. Demonstrate accountability and responsibility for your team.
3. Communicate and act respectfully at all times.
4. Be open-minded and willing to learn.
5. Show gratitude and give praise.
6. Practice forgiveness.
7. Ask for honest feedback, and use it.
His list aligns with one of my consistent themes: strength through vulnerability. Most of those listed actions require you to be vulnerable to criticism or blame. Weak or insecure managers shy away from doing anything that is vulnerable.
And everyone knows it.
When you are strong enough to be vulnerable, you gain the respect of those around you. You stand apart from weak managers and leaders. If all goes as planned, you may create a virtuous circle within the organization.
The respect you earn by showing strength reinforces your confidence. You then trust yourself more and so does your management and your team. This increased trust allows you to be more effective as a manager.
So much of management is perception. Once you convince yourself that you are capable of being a confident manager, you take the first step to making that belief into reality.