by Melanie Greene

Confidence and management/leadership

Whether you are you are under or over confident, your confidence levels can have a dramatic affect on how you work and communicate with others. Graham Lee, in his book Leadership Coaching, talks about different types of leaders and the impact that confidence has on a person’s ability to lead. Although he talks about leadership, this is relevant to both leading and managing others. He outlines three types of leadership, described below.

  • Defiant leadership

This is where managers/leaders behave in a ‘This is me, so take it or leave it’ manner. Their behaviour can be abrasive and they appear to not understand the impact that they have on others. They don’t take feedback about their style on board, even if they are told the same things by many different people. They come across as controlling, competitive and resistant to new ideas. Underlying this seems to be a fear of failure, of appearing vulnerable and, ultimately, a lack of confidence.

  • Compliant leadership

This is where people suppress their natural style to fit in with what they think a manager or leader should be or the organisation’s preferred model of management and leadership. They don’t want to rock the boat and are often seen as reliable and a ‘safe pair of hands’. However, by either loosing their real sense of self or lacking confidence to be themselves at work, they can find it difficult to connect with, motivate and lead others.

  • Authentic leadership

This, on the other hand, is where you have the confidence to be yourself and to find a way of managing and leading that will suit you, as well as those around you. You have the confidence to try out new ideas, learn from any mistakes that occur and ask for support and ideas from others, as well as to support and develop other people’s potential.

Clearly, your confidence, or the lack of it, can have a big impact on how successful you are as a manager and leader, the style and approach you take, the impact that this has on others and your performance.

The more confident you become, the more you can be authentic, which aids building relationships with others, helping you to motivate and support your team.

Think about yourself:

  • Are you predominantly a defensive, compliant or authentic manager?
  • Are there times when you are more defensive or more compliant?
  • When do you feel you are able to be yourself and be authentic?

What does it mean to be authentic?

Being an authentic manager is about some or all of the following:

  • Being true to how you really feel (without using it as an excuse for poor behaviour towards others)
  • Being true to your personality and your preferred ways of working
  • Being genuine in your interactions with others, as opposed to faking an interest in or liking for others
  • Being confident enough to say when you don’t know, asking questions and being willing to learn more
  • Having the courage to listen to others and change your opinion, if necessary
  • Having the courage to following your convictions.

Once you have the confidence to be authentic, this will often lead to more genuine and honest working relationships.

Being appropriately authentic

There is debate around how far authenticity should go: for example, if you are in a bad mood, should you allow it to affect your working relationships or stop you from getting on with your work? We all know people who do this and it is not constructive. But it is not helpful to do the opposite and suppress negative moods, thinking you must always appear upbeat and positive; this is not healthy for you and does not model the kind of behaviour you require from your team.

Being appropriately authentic is about being confident enough to say when you are feeling frustrated, down, anxious, concerned or angry, but learning to manage your emotions (see Emotional Intelligence) in order to not dump your negative feelings on others or let them distract you from working as effectively as possible.

Suppressing positive and negative emotions

What can happen, if we become good at suppressing, rather than managing, our negative emotions, is that our positive ones can also be suppressed. As a result, we may feel quite flat a lot of the time.

By learning to acknowledge, manage and transform our negative emotions and moods, we will be able to connect with others in a more constructive and genuine way, be more effective in our work and enjoy our working lives much more of the time.

See also Mental Toughness.