One of the best skillsets I've learned as a leader is how to honestly and objectively poke holes in my theories and strategies. Throughout my career, I've come to understand that good leadership will help you withstand the tide, but great leadership will keep you from drowning. Good leaders have an inherent appetite for success and ambition to do more and achieve greater. Great leaders harness that same ambition to attain knowledge from research and debate to build confidence in their strategies and develop a broader consensus amongst their peers. If you want to gain more self-confidence in your leadership ability or are looking to take the next step in developing into a great leader, introduce these four principles into your day-to-day routine.
Get comfortable with data, questions and debates.
Over time, great leaders develop a remarkable ability to calmly and rationally communicate a strategy that can endure criticism, argument and debate. You should constantly welcome feedback, insight and counterpoints if you’re actively engaged in a project or initiative. Stay in pursuit of objective counsel to explore details or issues you haven’t considered. Equip yourself with data and knowledge to help you gain confidence in your strategy. Data allows you to comfortably communicate and address questions from your peers and colleagues so that you can present and eloquently share your thoughts with a sound and objective mindset. The more frequently you debate your stance or defend a strategy, the more comfortable you become with preparation and communication, therefore gaining more self-confidence in your leadership abilities.
Learn to trust in your instincts and move with purpose.
You can’t be averse to calculated risk if you’re going to be a great leader. New strategies typically have certain levels of ambiguity; some questions may even go unanswered. Nonetheless, you must trust your leadership abilities and become comfortable owning initiatives from beginning to end and taking accountability throughout the process. Once you’ve rationally debated your strategy, leveraging data and research, you'll need to act swiftly to execute and implement your plan. Be tactful, evaluate where necessary and test where applicable, but dedicate your focus to implementing strategy as carefully and quickly as possible. The road to building confidence within your leadership isn't only about the result. Your confidence enhances with the small wins and goals you attain. Small wins help build trust among your peers and help you gain self-confidence in your capabilities to move a project, strategy or department forward to impact the bottom line.
Set the standard.
The outlook of your organization will represent a direct reflection of your leadership. Becoming a great sales leader means setting the standard of expectation designed to amplify output and optimize culture. If you prioritize new revenue opportunities, your peers and team members will take after your tactics and conversation. If you’re an extremely detailed and thorough leader, your team will better prepare for discussions with you and think through strategies more meticulously. Great leaders play to and magnify their natural strengths while simultaneously modifying their habits, processes and routine to strengthen their areas of weakness. When you’re dedicated to elevating yourself as a leader, it sets a standard throughout your organization of self-reliance and adaptability. Be sure to ask two questions deeper to enrich your knowledge on everything, thoroughly understand the inner workings of your organization and optimize where applicable.
Be objective in failure.
The thought of failure in any venture can be intimidating. That said, the comfort level in owning, assessing, declaring and communicating lessons from failure separates good leaders from great leaders. Our failures, though necessary, can potentially expose our vulnerabilities as leaders, but failure is often an excellent teacher and can help you poke better holes in your next endeavor. Please don’t neglect the opportunity to own a failure so you can address it head-on. Understand why a failure occurred and have the poise to communicate your learnings and any appropriate actions if or when prompted. Failure will test your resiliency, so trust in your abilities to rebuild and become even more proficient in handling adversity to build self-confidence as a great leader would.
Richard E. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi, and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He recently served as the head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK. He is now the senior director of retention for The Daily Beast and the founder of Richard E. Brown News Media Consulting.
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