Confidence is essential to leadership. Indeed, it is virtually impossible to lead without it. Who would follow a leader who was unsure or always second-guessing themselves? Your self-confidence is evident in your voice, both spoken and written, when you propose a project. It is what helps you get out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges. It inspires others to follow you, secure in the belief that you know where you are going and will get there successfully.
This doesn’t mean leaders are arrogant or think they can never be wrong. Confidence is about the trust you have in yourself. You trust your Vision and your knowledge. You trust the relationships you have built with others, knowing they will tell you when you may have overlooked something important. According to Joel Garfinkle, you can become more self-confident by following the steps he presents in Five Ways to Boost Leadership Self-Confidence.
1. Practice self-examination – Look at your history and the ideas and projects you launched. If you have been leading, there will be a number of them, including those that didn’t work. Garfinkle notes it may sound counterintuitive to look at failures in order to become self-confident, but we learn from our failures. What didn’t work on those projects? What did? What could have made them more successful? What should be repeated and built on? Recognize there will be failures in the future, but the knowledge you gain in this self-examination will contribute to more successes in the future, bolstering your self-confidence
2. Exercise your influence – Garfinkle urges participation in your “organization’s decision-making.” For us, this means being on committees that allow us to showcase that knowledge and expertise. It can also mean contributing at faculty meetings or offering sessions for teachers to help them use the library to support their work. When we see how others recognize our contributions, self-confidence is built. It may not seem like it, but you do have influence. You have proven knowledge and expertise in areas that others don’t have. In the relationships you have built, you have demonstrated it.
3. Motivate others – The combination of relationships and demonstrated expertise encourages others to listen to you. Garfinkle recommends developing gravitas – “the calm, open demeanor of a leader who both speaks and listens with respect and humility.” As you live and share your vision, which should be inspiring to begin with, you will connect with others who will be motivated to become part of making it a reality.
4. Embrace personal development – As you learn and grow, so too does your self-confidence. Then you must take the learning a step further by putting it into action. Being on those committees and an active member of local, state, and national organizations serves two purposes. First, you grow professionally as you see the larger picture which affects you and your library. Second, your vocabulary changes as you incorporate your learning into how you explain an issue or project. You are now speaking with confidence and the gravitas Garfinkle discusses. It’s a process of “absorb and apply.”
5. Improve your workplace – This refers to something larger than redesigning your library. How can you make an impact on the social and emotional environment of your school? When you make the library a safe, welcoming space, you do the same with the educational community. This is a much larger and ongoing task, requiring a big vision. Garfinkle says to “work with colleagues to improve a process, reduce barriers, increase teamwork or enhance morale.” Certainly, the last is a big issue in our schools today. He notes “working with others for the good of others” will increase your sense of your self-worth and by extention, your self-confidence.
Garfinkle concludes by stating: Confidence comes from an unshakeable sense of self, which requires consistent and continued dedication to your values, goals and personal self-worth These five steps are a progression. They won’t happen overnight but think of the rewards. Build your self-confidence and transform your community.