It’s easy to be confident when things are going well. When business is booming, when profits are up, when the accolades are piling up and the endorsements are streaming in – when everything is happening exactly the way it should? Well, in times like these, being a confident leader is a piece of cake.
It’s when times get tough that a true leader is made. This is when you have to really live and breathe your commitment to living as your most authentic, most confident self. Because if you’re not truly confident when you’re at the top, you can’t possibly inspire confidence in those who look up to you.
I heard a story recently about a leader who confessed he had trouble sharing bad news with his team. They had poured so much time and energy into launching a new division in the company, and 12 months on, it wasn’t working out. The number of people signing up and paying for the product didn’t stack up, and it was time to chart a new course.
Of course, the first step towards moving forward is admitting there’s a problem to begin with. But this particular guy didn’t want to admit it! His team had worked so hard, and he’d been leading the project; he didn’t want to impact morale (especially in COVID times), and he also didn’t want to look like he’d failed in his boss’s eyes.
If you ever want to know what confidence as a leader is? It’s the opposite of this. The fact is, confidence in leadership isn’t about the results you achieve or the outcome you lead your team towards. And a confident leader is not someone who knows what it is to succeed day in, day out. More importantly, it means that you have the courage, the grit and the attitude to face challenges head-on, and to inspire those working under you that you are going to lead them towards a better, more streamlined, more efficient or more profitable way forward.
I know what it is like to have to dig deep and lead with confidence during challenging times. As with many business owners, I faced massive change and upheaval during the pandemic. My coaching business, which is all about helping people to create confidence, was built around face-to-face workshops and masterclasses. I built a massively engaged community on Instagram and I was regularly selling out my events. When I decided to launch my year-long group coaching program in Melbourne, 25 women joined within 5 hours of launch, giving me a huge five-figure cash flow injection.
Every month, more and more women joined until our global audience asked us for the same program online. So, we launched the online program and tripled our income. Then we ran two retreats. We were finally hitting our stride!
And then… the pandemic hit. At first, like many, I panicked. I had a team of staff and contractors who relied on me to pay their bills. That’s enough pressure to keep you awake at night! But what use would I have been if I gave in to that pressure? How could I serve – both my employees, and my growing community – if I gave in to my worries, fears and stress?
Also, I’ve learned that growth doesn’t sit in comfort. And something about the seriousness of the situation gave me this massive drive to actually make my business work from the ground up. There was no other choice – it had to work. It wasn’t a question of if, but how.
So through the lockdowns and the chaos, I kept doing what I was doing. On the hard days, I gave myself a pep talk: I reminded myself of the millions of different outcomes that were possible and I kept my eye on the prize of delivering on my promise to serve. I kept showing up online. I set up weekly check-ins with our members, and I pivoted our real-world events to virtual ones. I asked my community: how can I serve you best?
This is one of the hallmarks of a confident leader: simply showing up and being of service. This is what a great leader does no matter the external circumstances, because it allows you to create space with your team to share their concerns and to lean on you for direction and support. Although at times this can seem difficult, creating and cultivating confidence as a leader is the key to keeping your team engaged, supported and empowered.
Written by Erika Cramer.
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