If you want to become an influential leader, you start by building the Three C’s ~ confidence, communication skills, and your ability to collaborate.
In my last post, 5 Ways to Build an Influential Personal Brand, I wrote about the power of influence to build successful teams that accomplish big goals even in challenging times. While cultivating influence is an important step on the leadership journey, it doesn’t happen overnight. And it’s important to remember that you can’t develop a great team until you develop yourself. That is where the three C’s come in.
Confidence is the Foundation of a Strong Personal Brand
Let’s start with the first of the three C’s. Most of the people I meet are confident in their skills. What they lack is confidence in themselves. They believe in their abilities, but when someone asks them to take on a new responsibility, they freeze.
I recently started working with a client who is up for a new job in her company. If she gets it, she’ll move from a director role to a VP spot. While the opportunity is exciting, she’s worried because the higher-level position is entirely new. “I keep asking what my specific duties will be, and no one can tell me,” she said.”I’ll create the position from scratch, and that terrifies me.”
Even though her higher-ups have told her repeatedly that she is in the top position for the job, she is full of self-doubt. If this situation sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. Stepping from the known to the unknown is always scary. To build confidence in yourself, here are some tips:
- Do Daily Affirmations: Start every day with positive affirmations. Speak phrases aloud, or in your mind, that affirm what you know to be true about yourself.
- Find a Mentor: Your people are your greatest resource. Seek out someone who has been in your situation and ask them to tell you their story.
- Take the Risk: When you move into new territory, you tap into your skills and problem-solving ability. Every time you do this, your confidence grows.
Confidence Leads to Effective Communication
Confident leaders know how to communicate effectively in their writing, speaking, and non-verbal interactions. They speak to be understood and know that tons of jargon and ten-cent words get them nowhere.
If you’re in a leadership position, it’s essential to communicate with your team in a way that will get them to buy into your project vision or goals. This means being clear, concise, and transparent. It also means learning to listen. Take the time to hear what people articulate so that you don’t get lost in your own stories and assumptions, which only impede communication.
Here are a few other practices you can use to develop strong communication skills:
- Develop Your EQ: Learn to hear the emotional content of both verbal and non-verbal communication so you can get to the heart of the matter.
- Dress the Part: What comes out of your mouth should match your outside persona. Dress well, stand up straight, and look people in the eyes.
- Listen to Connect: Effective communication builds trust and strong relationships. Go into every conversation with curiosity and the intention to connect.
When You Communicate Well, You Collaborate Well
True collaboration requires a willingness to put your ego aside and do what’s best for your team and project. Yes, teams need leaders to keep the needle moving, but they also need to feel empowered along the way. The best leaders solicit input, share objectives, and make decisions with the group.
Of course, creating a collaborative environment requires open communication and trust and your people won’t feel comfortable opening up unless you model both. Have an open-door policy. Let everyone know that they can come to you with their ideas and their problems.
Truly collaborative teams accomplish more goals with greater efficiency. And when that happens, you gain confidence as their leader. To become a better collaborator, try the following:
- Implement Ideas: If someone has a good idea, ask them to implement it. Then check in on their progress along the way and offer advice when needed.
- Give Recognition: When your team is successful, give them all the recognition. Celebrate their achievements rather than hogging the credit.
- Say No and Explain Why: Don’t say no just because you can. If you don’t agree with a suggestion, explain why and encourage your people to keep trying.
Remember, leading isn’t about handing out tasks, pointing fingers, and then taking all the credit. It’s about empowering your team members to take risks, do their best work, and move into leadership roles themselves. When they do better, you look better and your influence grows.
If you could use some help to develop the three C’s of a strong leadership brand, give me a call.