How To Effectively Grow Your Confidence
Someone struggling with their confidence often receives the advice, “Just be more confident!” The question then becomes, “How?” I was determined to discover if there were some skills that have more influence over a person’s confidence than others. For those who lack confidence, or those trying to build the confidence of others, what behaviors create a high probability of building their confidence while also making them a better leader?
To understand this question, my colleague, Jack Zenger, and I created two datasets. In the first we compiled the results from a self-assessment of confidence. We collected data on 7,800 individuals from which we created a valid measure of confidence.
The second was an assessment from managers on 49 key behaviors that enable leaders to perform exceptionally well. On this assessment, we collected data from more than 75,000 managers that accurately predicts a variety of organizational outcomes, such as turnover, customer satisfaction, engagement of direct reports, and profit. We matched the two datasets and found 330 cases where the confidence assessment aligned with manager competence ratings on the 49 behaviors.
We then identified 15 behaviors with highly significant correlations, concluding that these behaviors may do more to build a person’s confidence than other behaviors. However, because these findings come from correlations, it is also possible that highly confident individuals simply tend to perform these behaviors more effectively than individuals whose confidence is low. It is impossible in this scenario to sort out cause and effect. What we do know is that improvement in these behaviors will help a person to be a better leader, which should help a person’s confidence rise.
Behaviors that Build Confidence
By factor analyzing the 15 behaviors we identified 10 clusters of items. The clusters are listed by the strength of their correlations.
1. Skilled Communicator.
Communication is the most malleable skill, and research shows it is the easiest trait to develop. Many people who have gone through a public speaking class have struggled through their first presentation, but after instruction and practice see significant improvement. Communicating clearly and providing others with a clear direction builds confidence quickly.
2. Clear Priorities.
Imagine yourself overwhelmed with a variety of important priorities without clear insight into which was most critical. For most people, this would cause them to be confused, frustrated, and much less confident. Having clear priorities boosts confidence because it provides clear guidelines on how to succeed.
3. Accomplishing Stretch Goals.
What happens to a person’s confidence when they accomplish something that seemed impossible? It increases substantially! Many have also experienced failures in which the impossible was, in fact, “impossible.” We believe confidence is built by attempting stretch goals and experiencing both the success and failures from these out-of-the-park efforts.
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