Join John Ullmen for an in-depth discussion in this video Inspire confidence, even under pressure, part of Executive Leadership.
- Tom Landry, one of the most successful head coaches in professional sports history said, "A crucial part of leadership is having people look "at you and gain confidence seeing how you react. "If you're in control, they're in control, "and if you're not, they're not, and they lose "confidence in themselves and in you." As an executive leader, you need to inspire confidence, even with people who don't know you well. Why? Because executive leaders are visible to large numbers of people, often in small slices of exposure.
For employees, potential customers, investors, vendors, suppliers, potentially anything executive leaders say and how they say it creates consequences that ripple through multiple levels of stakeholders. Those who see you in action tell others, and there are often videos of you taken and disseminated, even without your knowledge. As an executive leader, it's critical to maintain poise and executive demeanor, behaviors that inspire confidence, even when you're under pressure or in a crisis. The alternative is perilous.
By appearing too fearful, or erratic, or not up to the challenge you lose their confidence and gain an unwanted reputation. The great news is this is a learned ability. With practice you can manage that inner turmoil and project yourself as someone fully capable of handling even the toughest situations. Here's how to do it. Break it down into managing your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions. One, practice directing your thoughts towards the number one positive priority for your situation.
Warning, the number one priority is not you winning an argument, or getting back at someone, or being right, especially if it makes others look bad or feel embarrassed. The number one priority is always about advancing a shared purpose for greater good. Focus your thoughts not on your inner unease, but on what matters most for the group. Two, direct your feelings toward determination to make progress on that number one priority. It's okay if sometimes you feel nervous, everyone does.
You can still inspire confidence. Practice channeling your difficult feelings toward focused determination. Make friends with that feeling. Go to it over and over in less stressful times, and it gets easier and easier to access when the pressure's on. It works. Focused determination is well suited for even the toughest situations. But focused determination to do what? Three, that's where your actions come in. Get determined to focus on that number one priority and to take the best actions to advance that priority.
Actions include what you say and do, including your body language and tone of voice. We can't see our own actions, so the first step to inspire more confidence with your behaviors is to understand the current impact of your actions. What do you currently do that inspires confidence or doesn't? Get feedback and look for areas of improvement. We all have them. Next, choose five people who inspire confidence, especially under pressure. Business or government leaders, public figures, whoever you like. Study their behaviors in person or watch videos of them in action.
Notice at least one specific behavior from each of them, what they do with their voice, gestures, facial expressions, posture, or movement. Then, develop your versions of those behaviors and practice them. You can practice them any time, and no one even needs to know you're practicing. Repetition leads to reliability. Now you won't imitate these people exactly, and that's how it should be. That's why I have you choose five different role models. You'll notice there are different styles of confidence enhancing behavior, and you'll find ones that work best for you.
Here's an example from someone who could easily be on your list, the celebrated basketball coach Mike Kryzewski, whose teams have won multiple championships and Olympic gold said, "A leader has to show the face "his teams needs to see. "Before he ever utters a word, they see his face "and they also see his eyes, even his walk." Coach K, as he's called, goes on, "I'm always aware of how I enter a room. "Before a game I might walk into the locker room "quickly with a spring in my step "and a smile on my face, and as I come in "I might say something like, hey we're going "to be great tonight.
"Whatever I say after that will not be "as important as how I look to them. "Does he really mean it? "Yeah, look at his face, he really meant it. "We might be great tonight." We gain confidence in people like Coach K who keep a cool head and help us stay on track when it matters most. When you break it down into its simplest components, it's easy to practice, and it all comes together. Thoughts, focus on the number one priority. What's the most important shared purpose? Feelings, be determined. To do what? To take action, to advance that number one priority, and in your actions look like someone who has confidence in your people, and you'll increase their confidence in themselves and also in you.
Lynda.com is a PMI Registered Education Provider. This course qualifies for professional development units (PDUs). To view the activity and PDU details for this course, click here.
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- Understanding the four disciplines of executive leadership
- Thinking strategically
- Creating shared purpose
- Inspiring confidence—even under pressure
- Motivating and communicating
- Establishing priorities and focus
- Leading change
- Developing yourself<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.