Growing into a leadership position can feel intimidating. You may not feel as though you have the necessary skills to lead a team, and that holds you back from being a leader in your organization. Preparing for leadership roles starts with one vital step: building your leadership confidence.
Building your leadership confidence sets the foundation for you to be successful. Regardless of the size of your team or your firm, those you lead will reflect your actions and attitude. Going into a leadership position with the confidence that you’re prepared to meet and exceed the needs of that position helps you achieve higher levels of success both personally and for your team.
If you aren’t entirely confident in your leadership abilities, you aren’t alone! Many excellent leaders have struggled through that feeling early in their careers.
7 ways to build your leadership confidence
Before you jump into a leadership position, these seven tips will help you to build up your leadership confidence so that you can hit the ground running on day one.
Learn about leadership
Read books, listen to podcasts, take a course and study leadership styles. Equip yourself with the knowledge of leadership frameworks, tools and the skills it takes to be an effective leader. The more you know about leadership, the more confident you’ll feel in a leadership position.
Keep track of your accomplishments
Tracking your successful projects, times you spoke up in meetings or complex challenges you overcame can bolster your confidence. Even noting down positive feedback you receive throughout the workday can help. You’re looking to create a track record of your successes, however big or small, to remind yourself that you are capable of succeeding.
Build your network
Building a strong network of leaders inside and outside the accounting profession helps you in several ways.
First, your network can help you continue your learning. While books and courses give you a solid foundation, there’s nothing like hearing from those who have been in your shoes before.
Second, a network of leaders can provide you with a support system as you step into a leadership role. They can help you build up your leadership confidence by reminding you that you aren’t the only one that has been in your position or felt a certain way.
Get out of your comfort zone
Part of building confidence is learning how to handle situations when everything doesn’t go as planned or when you’re uncomfortable. The best way to build confidence for the unexpected is by putting yourself in positions where the unexpected can happen.
If you know public speaking is outside your comfort zone, try signing up for a local Toastmasters group. If you’re uncomfortable meeting new people, start attending networking events regularly to overcome that discomfort.
Stretch beyond your comfort zone and build your confidence in unexpected or scary situations, and you’ll feel much more confident jumping into a leadership role.
Practice making decisions
A confident leader doesn’t hesitate to make decisions, but that can be challenging if you aren’t confident in your leadership abilities. Start making small decisions — where to go to dinner with a group or which movie to see. Use the momentum of these small decisions to start making more significant decisions and bring them into your professional life. Decide the direction of a project or how to best optimize a system. Making decisions will raise your leadership confidence.
Develop a healthy mindset around mistakes
It’s unavoidable: mistakes will happen. Being in a leadership position, you’ll have to manage the outcomes of mistakes made by you and your team. It’s crucial to develop a healthy mindset around mistakes before taking on a leadership position so you’ll be more flexible and able to turn those mistakes into lessons learned. Confidence is knowing that mistakes are part of the process and being okay with that.
If you’re particularly nervous about what it looks like to be a leader, there are plenty of opportunities for you to practice ahead of taking a leadership position. Look for local volunteer opportunities that will put you to lead a team. Sports leagues, nonprofits and other volunteer organizations have options for this. Organize, plan, and host activities for your group of friends. There are many opportunities to practice leading before you jump into it professionally.
Engaging in these seven activities can help you to build your leadership confidence. Once you have cultivated that confidence, transitioning into a professional leadership role will be easier.
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Sandra Wiley, Shareholder, President of Boomer Consulting, Inc., is a leader in the accounting profession with a passion for helping firms grow, adapt and thrive. She is regularly recognized by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her expertise in leadership, management, collaboration, culture building, talent and training.
Sandra’s role at Boomer Consulting, Inc. includes serving as co-director of the Boomer Leadership Academy as well as the Boomer Managing Partner Circle, the Boomer Talent Circle and the Boomer Learning & Development Circle. Her years of experience and influence as a management and strategic planning consultant make her a sought-after resource among the best and brightest firms in the country.