Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Leadership - Improving Your Staff's Self-Confidence

A good leader is the one who has a high level of self confidence and has an infectious habit of raising self-confidence of this team. Only when the team is confident about its skills & talents, it can perform consistently at high levels.
Last week, I just took out my team for a lunch. The team lunch was a token on my appreciation of the hard work done by the team and the goals accomplished by this team. The team had achieved great progress last year in handling customer issues, and reduced the total number of outstanding customer issues by whopping 73% from January 2008 to Dec 2008. At this team lunch we celebrated the success & vowed to improve on the track record. The team spent sometime looking back at their own accomplishment and that builds their self-confidence. At that time, I made a point to write down a few pointers on how to motivate the team and keep up the self-confidence of the team.
Given today’s grim economic outlook and falling sales, it is very important to maintain a healthy dose of self-confidence. One need not be CXO level leader to really inspire; even a team leader can do miracles to the team morale and self-confidence. Raising self-confidence has several rewards to the individual, the leader & the team.
  • Self-Confident people get more respect from everyone. This in turn increases team morale.
  • Self-Confident people are prudent risk takers. Risk taking in crucial in the business world. While self-confident people tend to take reasonable risks and avoid excessive risks.
  • Self-Confident people are decisive by nature. Once people have confidence in their skills & abilities, they can take quick decisions for themselves instead of dithering around.
  • Self-Confident people take up new initiatives for the benefit of the team & the individual. People who are confident often will not wait for orders, instead they will take the initiative to do the right thing.

Having a team with high self-confidence levels is a great feeling, but the leader must be prudent to avoid over-confidence and arrogance. The leader must make people perceive their abilities accurately and then assign tasks/challenges that they can handle.

How to build Self-Confidence?

So how does one really build self-confidence in the team?
When a leader is assigned to a team, one of his first tasks is to know the capabilities of the team members accurately and then he must accept it as it stands. Take San Antonio Spurs as an example, the team has certain members who perform consistently above the rest – Tim Duncan & Tony Parker. But there are members of the team who can play in spurts: Manu Ginobili, Michael Finley, and then there are other good players but they are definitely not in the same league as Tim Duncan.

As a coach or the team leader, your first task is to know each team member’s capability and accept it as a base line. There may be scope for improving each individual performance, but that needs to be carefully worked on.

Accepting the person’s capability as is, sends the signal that the member is a part of the team and reassures him/her of their place in the team.

Each member needs some reassurance from time to time. Do not constantly compare one member against the other – this might bring a short term gain, but will eventually destroy the team chemistry.

Instead of criticizing, use praising for the good work done. Always use positive reinforcement approach. Praise good work instantly & in public. But criticize in private – good constructive criticism is always needed – but ensure that it is not personal and is done in private.

Good team sprit & confidence also needs appreciations. Individuals & the team must receive appreciation from leaders & others. It is the leaders responsibility to seek out appreciation from persons benefited by his team and ensure that the team & the individual gets the well deserved appreciation.

Once a team starts to perform, it must be constantly be encouraged to reach new heights. A constant encouragement is needed to sustain the morale and self-confidence. Typically, once a team or even a team member is made aware of his/their capabilities, they would like to improve on it. Therefore a leader should create adequate opportunities for the team/individual to improve. Ideally, one should come up with a development plan to help each individual improve and reach a new level. Such a constant encouragement to improve will do wonders to the team performance.

Closing Thoughts
Leaders play myriad roles, keeping up the morale & self-confidence is one of them. The team which keeps it head held high even during tough times is more likely to perform better than the rest. The process of building self-confidence is a very rewarding one, the process invariably also increases the self-confidence & morale of the leaders as well, so it is time well invested.


Gopal said...

Thanks a lot Arun.

It is really very informative and self motivated information.

Evan said...

There is no doubt that without Self confidence we can’t do anything. So, as a Leader we should have a great confidence in ourselves then we can improve Confidence in our staffs!
Self Confidence Advice