Building Confidence by Breathing Belief into People

“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better.” – Bill Bradley, American Hall of Fame basketball player, Rhodes scholar, former Democratic Senator

Did you know that the best coaches, advisors or leaders believe in you before, and often more than, you do?

They have an ability to see our greatness in two ways:

  1. By seeing and calling out the strengths we already have today
  2. Through envisioning us performing at a much higher level

And then they give us the challenges and support to get us there.

As simple as it sounds, many of us aren’t amazing at seeing what’s already there. But good leaders not only see it – they describe it.

I’ve had hundreds of conversations with CEOs and executives about building confidence and what has helped them to grow most in their careers – like sporting activities as a kid, professors at school, or any jobs they had.

Again and again they said they had someone who believed in their capabilities well beyond what they saw for themselves.

Because of that, they were questioned, pushed, supported and encouraged. And they were able to do things they didn’t think they could, building confidence along the way.

They saw it before I did, said one CEO. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to point out their strengths.

Like “You have an amazing ability to…

  • “Take a complex problem, and put it in a simple metaphor we can get” – or
  • “Totally take a conversation and look at it the opposite way” – or
  • “Make someone feel good even when you give really tough feedback” – or…

…fill in the blank!

Call out those gifts you see along the way, so they can see them – and own them.

Then treat your people consistently with what they will be like, at twice their level.

Don’t assume they get it…they don’t.