Leaders and Confidence: Can They Fake It Until They Make It?

Some think they can…others disagree.

What is not in question is this: leaders cannot succeed without confidence. Confidence is a prerequisite for leadership. More specifically, self-confidence is the foundation upon which leadership can grow. Vince Lombardi expressed it so well  when he said, “Confidence is contagious. So is a lack of confidence.” Confidence helps us make decisions, have difficult conversations, and rally the people around us. How can a leader inspire their team members to follow through on a new initiative without confidence?  As leadership expert John Maxwell says: “When the leaders lack confidence, the followers lack commitment.”

Do you need a confidence boost?

If you’re in a leadership position, you probably don’t have a chronic shortage of self-confidence. Chances are you’ve been successful in part due to your ability to project confidence in what you do. But from time to time we all find ourselves in need of an added dose of confidence. So, what do you do when you need a confidence boost to get you through the week?

Here are 3 strategies to produce confidence in a pinch:

1. Reflect on Your Strengths

You have incredible skills and talents that got you where you are now. Take a moment to consciously appreciate the things you’re good at and recognize those abilities. Keep a list of your strengths in your desk if you need a dependable prompt – this can be as easy as printing out a copy of any assessments you’ve taken. Perhaps it’s your StrengthsFinder results, an Extended DISC profile report or a copy of your HOGAN assessment. The goal is to stay focused on yourself and what others say you do well without trying to compare yourself to anyone else.

2. Use Your Body

Get moving! Research tells us that our bodies can have a significant impact on our mental state. For one thing, simply standing up and walking around might be enough to shake you out of a self-doubt “funk” for a little while. Use the timer on your cell phone and stand up for 5 minutes every hour and walk around. Want an added boost? Try out one of Amy Cuddy’s “power poses” to bring your confidence back.

3. Fake It Until You Feel It

This advice inspires controversy. Does it really work to just act confidently – especially if you’re a leader? I believe it does, with the caveat that it has to be genuine. Your  team members, coworkers, and family will know it if your new confidence is a total sham. It’s often said that feelings follow behavior.  Decide to act confidently, surround yourself with people who will support you, and do your best.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson says: “The virtue you would like to have, assume it is already yours, appropriate it, enter into the part and live the character just as the great actor is absorbed in the part he plays.”

So take a deep breath, round up your courage, and go act confidently!

Then, watch  how others respond to you.