Are you looking to be a more confident leader? Well I’m going to make it super easy for you by giving you the 5 questions I ask my clients who struggle to believe they’re confident leaders.
So I’m working at McDonald’s and I’m at this after work corporate function thing with the leadership team. There’s probably 50 people there. We’re laughing, drinking wine and having a great time. I’d just won the President’s Award for this big project I’d led, and it came with lots of money and global recognition.
Now, this function wasn’t celebrating me per se, but I’d just won this award and I was in full-on celebration mode.
At one point in the evening, I figured I should get some food in me and I went to the buffet table where one of the company Officers was standing. He was generally a nice guy – I’ll let you be the judge. Anyway, I get in the line behind him and he says to me…
“Mel, we were just talking about how brilliant you were with [this project]. You may be one of the smartest people we have on the team. So why are you so insecure?”
In hindsight, I decided it was a pretty shitty thing to ask someone while they’re in celebration mode. But in the moment I totally fizzled.
Stupid question – 1. My mojo – 0
And I didn’t lose my mojo because he asked that question. I lost my mojo because I believed him.
I believed I was insecure, and more importantly, that being insecure was a problem. And I carried this belief with me for years…You’re too insecure and it’s a problem.
So what does a high-achieving, pragmatic leader do when they have a problem? They try to solve it.
I spent years trying to solve for “be more confident”. How many of you out there have a similar goal? It’s one that comes up a lot when I talk to prospective clients.
I’m going tell you right now, this was not the best goal. So if you have this goal, stick with me here.
Right here, right now, what I want to do is help you change the narrative between you and the idea that you need to become a confident leader [or person, parent, entrepreneur … whatever.]
And I want the shift to be instantaneous so you don’t have to work on this for years and years. My goal is at the end of this post, you will walk away with the belief that you’re already a confident leader [or whatever you want to be].
And the way I want to help you do this is by offering you 5 questions I ask my client. If this is work you really want to do, block out 5 minutes right now and let’s go.
QUESTION #1: How does it feel when you tell yourself you need to be a more confident leader?
This was a question a coach pal asked me ages ago. I was still talking about ‘doing the work to be more confident’, and she asked me, “how does it feel when you say that?”
You’d think deciding to do the work on something would feel hopeful, but it didn’t. It felt heavy. It felt hard…like I was looking up at the steepness of the hill I was about to climb.
There was also a sadness to it (for me). Like there was something wrong with me that I had to fix.
For you, think of the one word emotions you feel when you tell yourself, you need to be more confident.
QUESTION #2: How do you want it to feel?
I didn’t want it to feel heavy. I didn’t want it to feel sad.
I realized that the heavier and sadder I felt, the harder it would be to reach my goal of “feeling confident”. I told myself I wanted it to be easy. I wanted feeling confident to be easy, like the love I have for my dogs … it just comes naturally and automatically.
QUESTION #3: How will you know when you’re confident enough?
This is a question I’ll often ask my clients.
People have goals to be happier, or more fulfilled, or more confident, etc., but these are abstract goals. They have no real criteria for success except “more than I feel right now”… which is impossible to measure. We would never set a KPI like this on the job, yet we do it to ourselves all the time.
So if you’re someone like me who just wants to be ‘more confident’, how will you know when you get there? What is confident enough? Do you need to feel confident 100% of the time to consider yourself confident?
And logically, the answer is no. But sometimes, people (myself included) get caught up in the perfectionism of all or nothing thinking. Even people who don’t identify as perfectionists do this.
But the truth is, you can be a confident leader who is also insecure sometimes. That basically defines the human experience. In fact, how can your willingness to be insecure be a sign of your confidence?
QUESTION #4: On a scale of 1-10, rate your level of confidence as a leader (or whatever you’re rating yourself for).
QUESTION #5: How full does a glass of water need to be to be considered a glass of water?
Wait, what? Where did this question come from?
I came up with this analogy in the middle of coaching someone on confidence in their role. I probably stole it from Confucius or something because it has that kind of vibe.
So let’s say you rated yourself a 4 out of 10 as a confident leader. That’s 40%. Now if I handed you a glass that was 40% full of water, is it still a glass of water? Of course it is. Does it need to be filled to the brim to be considered a glass of water? No.
So do you need to be confident 100% of the time before you can be considered a confident leader?
BOTTOM LINE: You’re allowed to call yourself a confident leader even if you’re confident 40% of the time. Hell… you’re allowed to call yourself confident if you’re confident 0.00001% of the time.
Are there things you can do to practice confidence? Sure. But which narrative is more empowering? “I’m a confident leader who’s becoming more confident” or “I’m an insecure leader who’s working to be more confident”. Or maybe there’s another even more empowering narrative you want to create.
No matter what narrative you choose, you’re still a 4 out of 10 on confidence. You’re the one creating the narrative. You’re the one writing the story of you as a confident leader. And I want to offer the more your story empowers you, the easier and more natural it is to be a confident leader more often.