Something that I hear raised many times in the coaching, consulting and leadership programs I run, is that people are looking for “more confidence”.
This often comes from people I see as already having self-confidence – in fact they’re often rather confident about needing more confidence.
But when I ask what “having more confidence” actually looks like, I’m often met with a blank stare.
To quest for “more of” something implies that something is missing, or that someone feels that they are incomplete or lacking in some way.
Here’s the thing – confidence is a construct, a theory, an intangible feeling, an esoteric aspiration – which means that it can only truly be measured through observable behaviours.
So, I ask, what do these behaviours look like? Is it really confidence that they want, or need, or is a lack of confidence the sign that something else is needed?
I think it is something else.
I believe most people have the confidence they need, they just need to have the courage to identify it, and use it.
If you or your staff are looking for more confidence at work, or are lacking the confidence to take the next step, these four questions will help to identify where that feeling is coming from, and how to overcome it…
1. Why do you want more confidence?
This question relates to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – which emphasises the importance of beginning with the end in mind.
If you begin by asking yourself what the results of having more confidence might be, you will narrow your focus and gain a better understanding of why having more confidence is important to you, and why it’s particularly important right now.
These results could be: improved work and relationships; more influence; more friends; more fun; more time out; more recognition; a promotion; a high performing and successful team; a more interesting working environment; or better engagement in your work.
Whatever it is that is driving your need for more confidence, identifying it is the first step.
2. What would you do if you had more confidence?
This question allows you to see the possibilities available to you if you had more confidence.
Think about how having more confidence would allow you to behave in the contexts that are important to you.
It is easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. You might think that someone you know is the “confident” person that you want to be, but maybe their style unnerves you.
Answering this question will help you to uncover the behaviours or skills that you want to develop and those you’d prefer to avoid.
Would you challenge people or yourself more? Ask more questions? Be more decisive? Be more, or less, analytical? Take risks? Take a holiday? Learn to collaborate with others, or just learn to trust others more readily?
3. How would you be?
This question is often confused with the question above, but it goes deeper and starts to explore the behaviour that may be protecting you from feeling confident.
There is a theory that suggests all behaviour has a positive intention.
This means that on some level we all benefit by being cautious, careful, shy, uncertain, secretive, negative, wilful etc. Each of these behaviours, whether desirable or not, protect us at some level.
Therefore, in order to “do” something differently, your behaviours would need to “be” different.
For example, if you wanted to be more confident so you could ask more questions (do), your behaviour might have to be more measured and calm.
Or, if you wanted to collaborate more (do) you may need to be approachable, recognised as an expert, mindful and respected.
If you want to be more decisive (do) you would need to be informed and certain.
4. What skills, competencies or attitudes are needed to get you closer to having confidence?
Is your need for confidence about learning how to approach a situation?
Is it an attitude or belief that has worked, even helped in the past, and is now perhaps getting in the way?
If we think about what we could do differently for a different result and focus on that for a while, this could arguably fast forward confidence.
Whether that’s considering the steps to improve your skills, or reflecting on what you might do best, it will all help in your quest for confidence.