Beliefs are those things that you’ve decide are true for you, whether positive or negative.  Confidence in our abilities often comes down to what we believe about ourselves, even though we’re often not consciously aware of what these are.

Normally, when we believe we can do something (let’s take as an easy example, “I’m very organised”), we notice the things that prove to us that that belief is true and we neurologically tend to ignore, or reduce the significance of, the things that may prove otherwise. You re-enforce the belief and the more times you see it, the more powerful it becomes.   And that’s great and very important if you have a strong belief that you are and will always be successful, healthy, good at certain skills etc.

However, the same goes with negative beliefs.  Additionally this may mean that, without even realizing, we avoid situations which could draw attention to situations we’re uncomfortable with, eg avoiding confrontation because “we know” we’re not great at dealing with difficult people.

Our beliefs can significantly affect our leadership style and our confidence as a leader.  Do you belief you can manage well?  Do you believe that you’re more knowledgeable than your peers on certain subjects?  Do you believe that certain people will always cause you trouble?  Do you worry that you’re not very good in a certain aspect required of you as a manager?

A lack of confidence and belief in oneself as a leader has also been shown to reduce the effectiveness to listen to advice from others.  And this could prove vital in times of crisis management, developing new strategies for the business, reviewing statistics, or improving customer service and internal processes.

Research by the University of Southern California found that many managers will stop listening when they feel defensive, lack confidence and therefore feel they need to protect their status.  Participants were asked to provide solutions to rising customer complaints, with the Head of Maintenance primed to suggest an alternative solution which would have the best long term result.  Those managers who had previously been given feedback to suggest they were not competent in their management role did not seek his help, were less likely to listen to this new viewpoint and where not convinced by his expertise.  It was thought that there was a perceived threat from the Head of Maintenance to the manager’s managerial status and level of confidence.

Most of the time, we aren’t aware of what our beliefs are until they’re pointed out to us.  So, in the first instance, why not try and answer some of the following questions to start to get an understanding of your current view:

  • Difficult or Demanding: What are the most challenging parts of the work that you do? Are these things intrinsically difficult? Do you need to develop more skills? What parts of the job do you dislike, and why?
  • Interesting/Important: What part of the job do you particularly like and find enjoyable? Is this because the work’s easy, or because you have particular talents in these areas? Do you feel you have the necessary skills and resources to do the job well?
  • Frequent/Time-Consuming: What do they spend most of your time doing? Are you holding back from other tasks for lack of confidence or ability?
  • Strengths/Weaknesses: What do you feel you do well? Where do you feel you need to develop and what are you doing to address this? How do you want to develop in the future?

It goes without saying that leaders who can listen effectively and not let insecurities impact their decisions are more likely to obtain greater results for themselves, their team and the organisation.  Being aware of your beliefs, and those of your team members, gives you those choices.

An external Executive Coach can help identify the beliefs contributing to a leader’s level of confidence and competence, giving a different or fresh perspective to advance their leadership skills.  Please contact us if you would like to find out more.

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