Leading a confident team benefits the leader, the team, and the organization as a whole.

genuine confidence

Genuine confidence produces both short- and long-term results.

While it’s not your job as a leader to “make” team members confident, what you say and what you do affect their confidence levels. Your job is to support their efforts and encourage them as they develop confidence. As a result of building a confident team, you will enjoy greater innovation, better employee engagement, higher morale, and lower employee turnover. Here are six ways you can help your team become more confident.

1. Model Confidence Yourself

Setting a great example of a confident professional means believing in yourself, but it doesn’t mean being pompous or letting hubris guide your decisions. Confident leaders are accountable leaders. Owning your missteps and remaining confident offers a tremendous lesson to team members, because they can realize they don’t have to be (or appear) “perfect” to be confident.

2. Help Team Members Develop Their Skills

Learning and training opportunities are terrific for building individual confidence. Not only should team members work on skills they know they have, but they should also be encouraged to build new ones. If you notice a unique ability in a team member, encourage them to pursue that ability. Don’t think of training opportunities as cost centers, but as value creators.

3. Allow Teams to Try New Things (and Fail)

Teams that aren’t allowed to stray outside the lines are not confident teams. Encouraging innovation, whether in process, product, or business model requires accepting the reasonable risk of failure. Let team members know through your actions and your words that trying something new and failing is part of the innovative process. Perhaps paradoxically, if they’re not allowed to fail, their confidence will wither.

4. Be Specific with Praise

intelligent leaders

Intelligent Leaders are as happy about others’ success as they are about their own.

While it’s good to hear “Great job!” from a leader, more specific praise is better. “Thank you for beating that deadline. I know it was short, but I knew I could count on you to do it” acknowledges effort and can be the one thing that helps a team member realize that they work well under pressure. Specific praise helps people understand exactly what they contribute and how important it is.

5. Approach Problems as Opportunities

If leaders react to mistakes and problems as if they’re synonymous with doom, teams will not approach the development of solutions with confidence. Leaders who acknowledge problems, work with teams to get to the root of them and guide them in developing solutions will fare better than leaders who take over and try to fix everything themselves (or worse, micromanage solution development).

6. Realize It’s a Long-Term Commitment

Developing confidence takes more than an occasional pep talk. It is a long-term process, and it can be particularly challenging for teams that have taken a hit to their confidence (like when a project gets canceled for some unavoidable reason). Use these tips and techniques regularly and don’t expect overnight results. Building confidence is hard work.

Leadership development isn’t just for your benefit, but for the benefit of the people you lead. In my book The Intelligent Leader, I discuss the qualities of the Intelligent Leader in depth. The greatest leaders aren’t in it for self-glorification, but for their teams and their organizations.

One mark of Intelligent Leadership is a strong desire to help others succeed, and building confident teams is a primary way to do that. Like most other aspects of leadership, building strong teams requires excellent communication, authenticity, and commitment to outstanding results.


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