[This is a post by Aaron Morton who is the creator of The Confidence Lounge. A site that helps introverts get more of what they want through confidence, conversation and connections. Why not try increase your confidence in the next 7 days by taking part in Aaron’s free confidence course by clicking here.
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No leader is alone in their mission. They will always have a team, an army, a legion of people that act on the guidance of the leader to get a job done.
With that comes great responsibility but without a leader there is no coherent direction to go.
One of the reasons cited for the demise of the ‘Occupy Wall street’ movement was the fact that no singular leader was assigned to take them to the next stage. As a result, the protests got quieter and support start to filter away.
Compare that to Leaders like Howard Schultz of Starbucks and Elon Musk of Tesla and you will see the virtues of having a confident and strong leader at the front.
One of the fundamental arguments executive coach Robin Sharma makes in his book ‘A leader without title’ is that anyone can be a leader and you don’t need to have a career title to signify you are one. You can declare it in your life, so whether you are a street cleaner or a post room clerk, you can lead.
Whilst words are cheap, actions are king with thoughts being Queen. To be recognised as a confident leader, ready to be followed, your thoughts and your subsequent actions have to be congruent with that intent.
You can say you are a leader but if your acts as a leader are incongruent with what you are saying, it implies you are not thinking like a leader.
So how do you start to become a confident leader? I have 3 points you can focus on:
Frame it: No one can see you as a leader until you see yourself as a leader. Think about the road to being President.
It can be close to a 2 year process from the time a candidate expresses an interest to the polls. The candidate that ends up being president would have had to solidify their self-image as presidential long before they have to convince the American people of it.
I’m currently in an acting course. Before the course I had no real acting background, yet by about week 6 I found myself directing the actors in the scene I was doing and guiding them through the vision I had for the particular script given. Have I been a director before? No! But I knew in that moment I could direct it, so I took the lead.
What has to happen in your mind for you to see yourself as a leader? Be aware of your answer and notice how you can apply that in your life.
Learn it: People are reluctant to follow if you are unsure about what you are saying. This is normally a sign you are not competent in what you are attempting to lead them in.
Competency plays a big role in your ability to lead. It is not everything, but it plays a part, especially when leading in a company. If you want to lead, find out what skill sets and what knowledge is required in order to lead effectively. An army general who is leading a troop will have experience in the terrain they are fighting in, the enemy, strategic plays and that will show when he is speaking to his troops.
What do you want to be a leader in and what are the skill sets required?
Fail it: My rule of thumb on a plane is ‘if it starts rocking, look at the stewards’. If they are relaxed, that makes me relaxed because aside from the pilots, the stewards are the ones in charge.
Whenever something goes wrong, the group will look to the leader in how to react. If the leader is freaking out, this will signify to the group something is wrong and there is no plan to correct it. If the leader is composed and calm, this provides hope that a solution can come from the situation.
Being a leader comes responsibilities and one of those responsibilities is vetoing your right to fall apart in a crisis. The group relies on you and you have to strive to deliver.
To create this ability to stay calm and think under pressure requires you to experience what its like to be out of your comfort zone and still be able to think.
For me in the work I do as a coach I was able to do this by going into sessions with no pre prepared plan or script and conduct sessions on the fly. I supplemented this with improv classes where you have to think on your feet to keep the performance flowing.
What can you do to step outside your comfort zone and practice thinking under pressure? When practicing don’t choose anything where the repercussions are losing your house, your income or your life. It’s practice remember!
To be a confident leader, you have to live it inside so you project that persona onto others. It takes time but we all have the capacity to do it.
Questions: Who do you admire as being a confident leader? What do you admire about them?