Have you ever faced the dilemma of thinking how best to phrase the opening line of an e-mail? The trend appears to be for the “hope all’s good with you” or “hope this finds you well”. Nothing wrong with this, it’s polite and shows an interest in the well-being of the person you’re engaging with. But on the receiving end of such an e-mail are we ever tempted to tell it how it really is?
That would be rather “awkward” and put the recipient in an uncomfortable spot as to how to answer such a statement. But in one way this answer to the original e-mail is refreshing as it’s truly honest.
The difficulty of course is that no one wants to admit to fragility or weakness, stress or worries suggest failure. The reality is at some time or another we all suffer from varying degrees of stress and have genuine doubts over either a business or personal direction and our own capabilities; especially when we’re up against it and under pressure.
The media regularly reports on the trend of business confidence sourced from trade and sector specific surveys. I’ve always suspected that they are very heavily skewed, with a positive spin put on the answers. Respondents will want to talk up their own position and only express genuine concern when it is a globally recognised issue such as the height of the recent recession. After so much gloom we’re desperate for good news and we don’t want to disappoint. But it’s easier to consider business buoyancy over the rather more personal and potentially painful analysis of our own self-confidence.
So is our level of personal confidence that important?
The answer is clearly “yes” – A leader’s self-confidence is at the heart of business success and growth. Through the recessionary period many tens of thousands of business owners have faced tough decisions and trading conditions which impact on their personal outlook and mood. With shoots of recovery appearing there’s an expectation that these entrepreneurs and owners will simply click back into overdrive and quickly return to their super confident persona.
The truth is it is not that easy to turn on confidence, it relies on a number of factors and will differ for each person depending on their own leadership skills, life experience, measure of success and management capability.
Optimism and confidence are crucial attributes for business leaders as those who work for them look to the signals from the boss to determine their own feelings of security. It’s not hard to see that a forward looking buoyant and confident business owner will engender a positive atmosphere throughout their organisation. Not that it’s entirely all down to the one individual but if they’re not confident and positive in their communications it will send an uncertain message to others and lead to discontent and discomfort amongst the workforce.
Ironically for certain senior executives their outward view is often believed to be positive whilst the reality is far from that perception. Body language and tone of voice might seem minor elements compared to the content of any communication but we know that as humans we take in a wide range of signals and are naturally very adept at translating them.
If not sure how you’re perceived ask a few trusted colleagues for their unbiased appraisal, it might be quite an eye opener.
Without a clearly understood vision for the future, business owners will be likely to react to situations as and when they arise leading to “knee jerk” responses. This will not breed confidence amongst the workforce no matter how well a leader presents their decisions. A lack of management consistency often creates feelings of uncertainty amongst staff heightened in times of trading difficulties and increased competitive pressures.
At the heart of the corporate confidence issue is the conviction of a clearly articulated and implemented strategy to take the organisation forward. Whilst insecurities and concern still exists in many sectors those who’ll survive will have calm, assured captains steering the business on a course to deliver a strong and sustainable future. With plans in place and everyone understanding their role all who share the journey can themselves grow in confidence and far more readily contribute to the success of the business.
Below are 5 suggested tips to assist leaders develop a stronger feeling of self-confidence.
5 Tips to Build Self Confidence
1. Pragmatism over Perfection. Don’t get hung up on the felling that every decision and act you make must be perfect and borne out of your instinctive powers as a leader. Making the right decisions can often prove difficult but remember there are frequently situations in business where there is no right or wrong response. Be logical and gather the data you need to make an informed decision.
2. Commit to your Decisions — Communicate with conviction and provide details of the outputs from the decision.
3. Failure is an Option – Mistakes will happen and that’s life but make sure that lessons are learnt from any failure and not repeated. The best leaders freely admit to shortcomings and can identify how success was often borne out of projects that didn’t initially deliver.
4. Body Language — We all have moments of fear and trepidation in our lives but if others are looking to you for direction you need to show courage and calmness especially when under pressure.
5. Enjoy the Moment and your Work – We can spend a great deal of time at work especially if you’re the owner or senior manager of a business. There will be good and bad moments but make sure you celebrate the successes with your team and be there to pick everyone up when a deal fails to materialise.