Whether in the workplace or other facets of your life, the ability to effectively lead others can make a profound difference in reaching your goals and your full potential. But the first step to becoming an effective leader is to gain the confidence of those you wish to lead. Without confidence and trust, even the best leaders will struggle to achieve the outcomes they want.
I recently interviewed Mansour Tawafi, president of Validus, on this vital subject. As his insights reveal, gaining the confidence of those you lead requires effort — but it can be done.
1. Be transparent.
Transparency has become increasingly valued in today’s society. In fact, 85 percent of consumers will give a company with a history of transparency a second chance after a negative experience. The same number say they will stick with transparent companies during a brand crisis. The same mindset holds true when it comes to leaders and how they are viewed by those they lead. According to Tawafi, “Being transparent doesn’t mean you have to share everything,” Tawafi says. “But it means being open and honest with the people you lead. You proactively share the information they need to know to succeed. Honest conversations where you share timely and relevant information are what will lead to greater respect and collaboration.”
2. Be reliable.
Reliability is another essential trait for gaining the confidence of those you lead.
“This principle is simple,” Tawafi explains:
It requires that you follow through on your commitments — on anything that you’ve promised to do. Your actions and words must be fully aligned. When people can trust you to do what you say, their perception of your integrity and fairness will increase dramatically. On the other hand, few things can destroy confidence and trust like failing to live up to your promises.
Because of this, leaders should always be open to self-reflection, considering what they can and cannot do so they don’t run the risk of overpromising and underdelivering.
3. Be willing to be vulnerable.
Recognizing that you don’t know everything can play a valuable part in showcasing your transparency and reliability. The best leaders are intimately self-aware. They know they aren’t always the smartest person in the room, and they are quick to recognize the skills and talents of others.
Leaders are also willing to admit when they are wrong or make mistakes. They extend trust to others in a way that reveals their authentic selves and fosters trust and approachability. Vulnerability may be a difficult skill to master. Still, leaders who are willing to be vulnerable will gain the confidence of others and inspire them to be more open and vulnerable themselves.
4. Demonstrate your own expertise.
While having the humility and vulnerability to admit you don’t know everything are certainly important traits, Tawafi notes that effective leaders inspire confidence when they prove that they truly know what they’re talking about:
By virtue of being a leader, people expect you to have industry expertise and judgement skills beyond that of an ordinary person,” he says. “You wouldn’t — or shouldn’t — be in a position of leadership if you don’t have extensive knowledge to draw from. Leaders must be trusted sources of information and guidance. As such, they are never content with the knowledge they have already achieved. They are always looking to improve and become better.
By imparting your knowledge to those you lead, you can help them achieve better results — and when this happens, they will gain even more confidence in your abilities.
5. Showcase empathy
While many of us have a tendency to judge others, the best leaders understand the importance of displaying empathy to those they lead. “Taking that little bit of time to understand how those you lead feel and where they’re coming from can give you some much-needed perspective. Listening so you can understand their perspective and validate it shows that you actually care. Quite often, simply knowing that someone cares about you will make all the difference in gaining their confidence,” Tawafi says.
6. Model the behavior you want to see.
At the end of the day, leaders set an example for those they lead — for better or worse. “Do what I say, not what I do is a poor idiom for a leader,” Tawafi says. He continues:
When you establish expectations for others, you have to set the example yourself. How you act and what you do will ultimately be more powerful for getting desired outcomes — and for ensuring that people actually have confidence in what you say. Modeling the behavior you say you want to see demonstrates your integrity and sets the tone for becoming a leader others are willing to follow.
Modeling desired behavior doesn’t just help others gain confidence in you — it can also provide powerful learning experiences that help others lift themselves and come closer to reaching their full potential.
Becoming a Better Leader
As these points reveal, many of the practices that allow you to gain the confidence of those you lead also help you become a better leader in general. By integrating these behaviors into your own leadership style — and actively striving to improve in each area — you can gain the trust and confidence of others so you can inspire them to achieve their best results.
This content is made possible by M. Rafiq.
Photo by Francois Olwage on Unsplash