I was asked to speak to a top leadership team recently that has been leading a loss making business for a while now. This was the essence of my message.
Can you be a great, authentic and performing leader without confidence? The obvious answer is No. How do leaders lose their confidence? Consistent non performance, hard knocks, consistent negative feedback by toxic leaders and environment? I’m sure you can think of many more reasons.
What could one assume is the collective confidence level of any individual or team that hasn’t performed for a long time? One would believe rather low. How does one turn that around? Through renewed performance only?
What kind of confidence should one have, in today’s world? Should ones confidence be inextricably linked to performance only?
I believe confidence due to performance only is flawed. Why? Because when performance is up you are confident; when performance is down – even outside of your control – so is your confidence. And the danger of such a period of low confidence is that it could easily spiral downward if performance doesn’t somehow return fast.
Confidence has to stem from something DEEPER and HIGHER – if you want to be more sustainable at it – so that when non-performance occurs, especially outside of your control, your confidence doesn’t immediately vanish, because it has more than one anchor. It then remains at an acceptable level and you get over the bump in the road quicker. You see, it’s difficult to find lasting and innovative solutions to non-performance when ones confidence is low, especially in today’s VUCCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, chaotic, ambiguous) world.
So let’s look at DEEPER and HIGHER.
What lies deep inside you and “I”? It’s that real person, your best self, your deepest drivers and authentic values, your character, the Authentic “I”. And attached to these should be your authentic purpose. You can never go too deep on this journey inside. It could and will be never ending and the deeper you venture the stronger your anchor or roots. The clearer you are about – and remain true to – your deepest authentic “I” the more confident you will be; the more congruent your behavior will be; the less you will crave external validation and performance recognition in order to be confident.
Higher is your vision and goals. How authentic are your personal vision and goals and are they a natural fit with your “Deeper” part; your purpose? Or, does it betray your deeper authentic “I”?
This is why organizations that are values / purpose driven (deeper) and vision led (higher) succeed more often than others, if it is authentic. Most organisations have a vision, values and purpose, yet many don’t perform, so the authenticity part is what matters; the buy in and alignment to the organizations depth and height is what makes the ultimate difference.
It could be uncomfortable to lead a deep and high organization effectively if you don’t have depth and height yourself? And of course the other way around.
Therefore to lead an organization successfully in general, but especially from non-performance to performance – Diffident to Confident – you need at least these five ingredients:
- Personal depth
- Personal height
- Organisational depth
- Organisational height
- Authentic Leadership – All the above, with the ability to generate that required movement towards the vision, while remaining true to your and the organizations depth.
The first four steps will go a long way towards generating that much needed Authentic part of your personal leadership and organizational leadership culture. However, the ability to generate movement must and can be taught or brought to a conscious level. Some leaders have a natural affinity or feel for it. Others have to work extra hard at it.
Interestingly though, every human being creates movement every day of their lives. It is about recognizing what it is that you do to move your child to do something; to convince a friend to change their mind; to uplift a colleague that feels down today; and many more times. We all can and do create movement, yet we don’t necessarily consciously import those skills into the workplace.
We can teach you the Law of Movement and the process of unlocking this law. But this is for another time.
Even with the process of creating movement one can and should become confident at it. Confidence and Leadership are indeed synonymous with each other.