To grow your confidence as a leader, you need to become more competent. When you feel capable of handling any given task, challenge or issue, you feel more poised and sure of yourself. That level of self-confidence comes when you know you can handle the situation because you feel skilled, capable and able.
The question for many leaders, who’ve taken training, but still feel unsure, is precisely what additional training will give them the assurance they are looking for. As such, they get caught up in repetitive training with little results. But competent leadership does not come with training alone.
Competence, the ability to do something well, comes from more than taking a course, reading a book or watching a video. Although those actions are foundations, the real work begins when you apply the information in “the real world.”
The 3 steps for growing a level of competence are:
1) Learn a new skill
2) Have the courage to practice the new skill
3) Continue to have the courage to practice your new skill, even when you fail, fall or fumble.
It’s step 2 and 3 that are most often missed when leaders take new training. We forget that we have to practice before we become skilled. Because practice feels awkward, weird and sometimes scary, we disregard its significance. The first sign of a failure has us running back to our comfort zone.
We may take training to improve our communication, be more strategic, or have greater impact supervising employees. Yet, when we get back to the office, close the book or end the video, we become engulfed in the day-to-day craziness of our world and “forget” to practice. We may try the new idea a couple of times but find our attempts to apply it didn’t work out the way we wanted. Then, we move on to the next flavor of the month, magic bullet or best-selling book.
It’s not the course, training or content in a book that will change your experience of leadership. It is your ability to use what you have learned successfully. Applying new information so that you become competent at it, takes time, courage and a willingness to take some risks. Over time, and with practice though, you will begin to feel competent, which can feel rewarding!
Working at your new skill until you become competent is two-fold. It’s practicing the skill and noticing your resistance to practice it. Again, many of us take training and try it a couple of times. But, as soon as it didn’t go perfectly, we move on. Staying with the idea until you master it means you have to move through your inner resistance.
If you want to be the leader you desire, one with a strong character and who is making meaningful contributions, you must get used to practicing new skills, even when it doesn’t feel so good. This persistence will grow your competence leaving you feeling adept.
To help you focus on the practice part of learning new skills, start a learning journal. In it, indicate the skills you want to learn, how you will learn them and when you expect to reach the competence level you desire. Then come back and write in your journal weekly.
• What did you do?
• Where have you struggled?
• What have your failures, fumbles and falls taught you?
• What will you practice in the coming week?
Commit to writing in your learning journal weekly, and you will become a more competent and confident leader!
Leadership Development Coach Kathy Archer teaches women leaders inner and outer tools to grow confidence so they can move from surviving to thriving in both leadership and life.