Not getting what you want can be painful sometimes. You wanted that promotion or raise and didn’t get it, perhaps. Maybe you wanted to be chosen to give the speech or represent your team or industry in an important initiative. It could be as simple as you needed something like a day off and you were frozen when you went to ask for it from your boss. We all have areas where we are confident and where we aren’t. The trick is to build your confidence muscle in the area that will pay off the most to get what you want more often.
What I notice about leaders that attend our leadership programs and that get coached by us, is that they seem to feel much more confident after a session than when they arrived. I know why that is. Confidence tends to occur when you build certain skills. To build your confidence muscle you need to take action to work on building your competence, prepare for defining events that can move you quickly forward towards what you want to achieve, and knowing how to look and sound the part with the people you need to influence. When you are armed with those skills, you naturally feel more confident which leads, more often, to you getting what you want.
Here are the 3 steps to building your confidence muscle:
- Build competence. Start by becoming competent in the skills you need in order to get what you want whether it be a raise, a promotion, or autonomy in the job you are being paid to do. Determine which skills will net the biggest return on investment for the goal you want to reach and focus on those first.
- Prepare for defining moments. Whether it is a crucial conversation or a presentation you need to give to influencers, make the time and ask for help so that you are fully prepared to reach your goal and slay any dragons. Stressing over all the small stuff will lead to burn out. Understanding, by asking and observing, what events will have the most impact on your ability to influence others or raise your status as work is critical. Don’t guess. Ask someone you trust who is at a higher level than you are or has experience in the situations or job you are in. Any event that involves your senior leadership team matters. Contact with your CEO, if you rarely come in contact with her/him is important. Being fully prepared for the most important contact points will pay big dividends for your advancement towards higher levels of authority.
- Look and sound the part. Yes, you need to look and sound like “them” – those people who have what you want and whose help you may need to get it. The easiest way to do that is to dress like them. Keep your individuality for off the clock activities. At work, when you want to get noticed, let it be for your work, not your wardrobe. Need proof? Here’s study published in the Wall Street Journal that may be helpful.
Making a statement by wearing casual clothes when everyone else in higher positions than you are and who make more money than you do is wearing button downs, is not going to endear you to the people who have the authority to give you that raise or promote you. Why would you want to make it harder for yourself than you need to?
As important is “sounding” part. Looking the part can occur from simple observation and feedback. Listening for certain language that the people you need to influence is critical. It’s one thing to get in the room, it’s a whole other thing to stay there and be invited back. Each industry has certain “lingo” and acronyms they use. Every organization has a certain “tone” to the way people talk to each other. Listen closely for the words you do not understand or don’t know how to use effectively in a statement. It’s not stupid to ask someone what they mean. It is dumb to act like you know what someone meant when you really don’t.
It takes time and effort to build confidence that is backed by competence. Some people get stuck on building competence and ignore the other two steps which lead to being stuck at a certain level in of influence or authority at your organization or in your industry. Identifying those skills that you need to build and asking for help from a coach can speed up your progress towards what you want to achieve.
Let me know if I can help.