How Important is Confidence for Leadership Success?
Successful leaders are confident leaders! Self-confidence, or self-efficacy, refers to your level of conviction about your ability to mobilise the motivation, cognitive resources, and course of action needed to successfully execute a specific task within a given context.
Self-confidence is critical for leadership as research shows that people with high levels of self-confidence:
- Set high goals for themselves and self-select into difficult tasks;
- Welcome and thrive on challenge;
- Are highly self-motivated;
- Invest the necessary effort to accomplish their goals;
- Persevere when faced with obstacles; and
- Improve the performance of their team.
Unfortunately, women leaders often report low confidence levels with numerous studies reaching the same conclusion: the difference between the genders in the workplace is not competence, but confidence.
One study looked at the influence of individual mindsets, finding that more than fifty percent of women interviewed felt they held themselves back from accelerated growth by not cultivating sponsors who would push them to take opportunities, not raising their hands for high profile projects or not considering stretch roles. Low confidence was the underpinning factor in all these choices.
According to another study, at the senior level only forty-nine percent of the women leaders rated themselves as highly effective leaders, while sixty-three percent of the men at the same level consider themselves to be excelling. The cost of low confidence is self-doubt and results in second-guessing, procrastination, over-collaboration and an unwillingness to take risks.
So, how do you your build self-confidence? One of the simplest and most effective ways is to establish the habit of regularly reminding yourself of your successes. What are your latest wins, achievements, areas of growth and positive feedback received? Acknowledging this helps to create a sense of competence and capability that becomes a resource for you to draw on when you need it. To create this habit takes focus and commitment, but the dividends are very worthwhile.