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9 Ways to develop Self-Belief and Self-Confidence for young Female Leaders

What every young Female Leader should know about building self-confidence

‘Self-belief is not self-centered.’ We can only fight effectively for others if we already believe in ourselves.’ Carla H. Krueger

Believing in yourself is the greatest asset you will ever possess as a Leader. People can identify when an insecure leader is in the driver’s seat. It shows in the leadership style and how you make people feel when they succeed, make mistakes, or need guidance. Leslie Pratch, in her Harvard Business Review article, defines Self Confidence as ‘behaviors that are central to organizational success, an ability to respond adaptively to stress and grow.’ It reminds me of the most impressionable leaders I have met in my life. They have left a lasting mark and have been a valuable ingredient in my career journey.

As a self-believing and Confident Leader, it means you recognize that you are individually different and use that to your advantage. This Leadership trait is increasingly becoming a rare gem as we continue to navigate through the unknown post Covid19 era. It is what your employees will be looking for to keep motivated, the energetic and self-confident Leaders who will stay the course and reinforce the positive aspects of their capabilities.

Confident Leaders instill confidence in others.

Self-confidence is an essential influence to bestowing the very same confidence and trust in your employees. You trust yourself, and therefore, you trust others. Employees appreciate a leader who believes in them. You trust them to do that which they have committed to. You allow and support them to make their own decisions.

My memory of a genuinely confident leader was in the early stages of my career. I was starting on a reasonably senior role, and my Leader was as young. Sean was steadfast, fair, and human. You could reach out to Sean for anything, and he gave you a feeling that it was ok and you were in a safe space to make mistakes. It felt incredibly fulfilling to work for Sean, and he was exceptionally gifted in re-enforcing the team’s self-confidence.

They have the ability to inspire others to be better versions of themselves.

I once had a female Leader who was phenomenal. She oozed confidence and so much self-belief, most employees aspired to work for our team. She believed in her people so much and presented her team confidently in platforms we were not even aware of. That, in turn, grew our confidence as well as respect from other peers. We naturally performed with excellence as we rose to the standard she unconsciously set for us.

By contrast, the Leader that followed her was the absolute opposite. She terrorized the living daylights out of everybody, ruled by fear, and was an absolute nightmare to work for. She achieved the results. She was young and created the actual performance outputs through pain. For a while, people viewed her as effective. Within a period, the organization lost scores of talented people, the effects of which were felt for a number of years that followed.

Reflecting on the two leaders, one thing stands out for me. Self-confident influential leaders seem to be grounded and self-aware. They display an ability to recognize their strengths as well as accept their flaws. This attribute allows others to recognize their own strengths, be and to know they are safe and accepted with their shortcomings. They allow others to make mistakes and to be imperfect.

People seem to thrive in these environments and give the best of themselves. On the other hand, fear suffocates creativity and people are unproductive. If they are, it is for a short while and is not sustainable.

Here are a few tips on how you can increase your Self-Belief and Confidence

  1. Lead self and then others

Know yourself and accept who you are. When you do this, you move from a premise of power and confidence. You know your shortcomings and embrace them.

If you are a leader and are on a path of self-discovery, do not lose heart as these can be refined. Leading self can be one of the most impactful and fulfilling journeys while not easy. Self-introspection is key to this and is a foundational attribute that enables the exploring one’s self-thoughts and feelings and analyzing them over time. You continuously learn from experience and check on your mental and spiritual self.

As a Leader, it is important to reflect on your limiting beliefs as well. You need to be aware of thoughts that generate specific emotions. Negative thoughts such as self-doubt, low confidence or even anxiety are rooted to the view we hold of ourselves. These negative thoughts are our brain, informing us that we need to start observing these thoughts and feed the mind healthier ones.

2. Know your values

Who would you be if you were manifesting in your true power, and what would you do? This question is crucial for new leaders who need to establish their presence and views without fear. If we were operating from our authentic selves, how would we show up? As female leaders, what are the changes we would make in organizations, reflecting what needs to be changed to further the cause of inclusion?

Answering such questions and doing so truthfully is the first step to building your self-belief. It is imperative because doubts and a need to conform often bury the real you. It would help if you were intentional about re-enforcing your values while consistently pushing away low self-esteem.

3. Affirm Yourself

Self-affirmations are strong tools that reinforce your belief in yourself. This is because as humans, our self-image influences our behavior. There is power in the use of words, especially using them for our good. When you, for example, view yourself as the future CEO, you will also act like one. So, what you need to do is see yourself as someone worthy and unique. Affirmations can help you create that image. They are positive statements that dull doubts out, especially when recited aloud and with belief.

Make a list of empowering affirmations and say these words to yourself. Say these consistently and, especially, as responses to the negative thoughts.

4. Face Your Fears

Facing your fears is one effective way to develop self-belief. This you can do, starting with small wins first and then gradually taking on greater challenges. Do you have a fear of public speaking? Start practicing in a room with a few trusted friends. Keep building up until you face a challenge of bigger groups.

For your next challenge, go for a competition on something you have wanted to achieve and give it your best. Once you keep challenging yourself, face and conquer your fears, self-doubt might be there, but so will the confidence of your victories.

5. Address Your Inner Critic

Be aware of your inner critic and stop that voice in its tracks. Interrogate the criticism and break it down for the lie and generalizations it often makes. Cultivate your internal champion and develop an encouraging voice that reminds you of your accomplishments and all the challenges you have overcome.

The lack of belief often results from an overactive inner critic left to its device. Addressing your inner critic is essential because you may keep undermining your abilities and settling for less than you deserve until you do. Keep a healthy perspective of all the strides you have made as well as accomplishments. Sometimes, your friends and colleagues can be phenomenal in supporting you with these reflections.

6. Build a good support network

Build a network of leaders you can reach out to for support in difficult times and share experiences. You will be surprised by how many females have gone through your current challenges. The wealth of wisdom you can access can save you years of tears. Invest in putting yourself in circles with people who will contribute to your development. In the same token, cut out friendships that make you feel unworthy. Keeping such people around you will make the efforts you make to rebuild your self-esteem futile.

7. Feed the Mind Good Food

Books are exceptional resources for learning from people who have reached what you are looking to accomplish. Read their biographies, contact them, try to get to know them, study their failures, their success, and what makes them strive for achievement. That will help you grow and develop. Be conscious of feeding your mind good food (thoughts), and gradually increase confidence.

Look for documentaries around your specific interest or passion, skill up on what you already possess.

Doing this will do wonders for how you start to feel. Your brain will start to make new connections that will make you see differently and build on self-belief.

8. Be Prepared to Win

Before you take steps towards your goals, make an effort to ensure you are all set up to win. Always be prepared. Study hard for that exam, prepare your best for that interview, make an impressive presentation for that meeting. Ask for support and for help in the preparation.

The best preparation fills you with confidence, encouraging you to put in the extra effort to achieve your goals. When you own the value you bring, you will thrive.

9. Take Action

Take action and move out of your comfort zone and into the risk zone. The surprising thing is, every small step to overcoming a challenge will build your self-efficacy, which in turn produces increased confidence.

When you overcome your limits and fears and take action, your view of your capabilities expands, and so does your confidence. Eliminate the need to be perfect.

Now off you go and be the best version of yourself. All the best!

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