How can I gain the confidence to be an effective leader? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.
- Don't expect to be Jack Welch or Steve Jobs immediately. Give yourself time. Try to be an effective leader 6 months from now. Set up goals to get there, allow yourself to fail and learn. Then, in 6 months, set more goals.
- Remember, most people like to be led. Well, not in business school -- there everyone wants to lead because they think if they don't lead every single minute, everyone else will wonder how they ever got admitted. But most people love having someone else tell them what to do, as it frees them up to think about other important things.
- Organize, organize, organize. As a lower-level leader (which I'm guessing is where you're starting) you will be expected to know simple, boring things like progress, scheduling, managing tasks, assigning tasks, and setting up feedback. Organize yourself first, and then organize the team.
- Own the process. If you don't do this, no one will. And it's an easy way to get respect. Know who people are, make sure meetings run on time, make sure everyone has jobs, design products that help the team work (set up Google docs, etc.). This can seem like meaningless work, but it allows you to control something, which will give you confidence.
- Motivate others to come up with the answer. Too many people think they, as leaders, need to solve all the issues. They don't; they need to create the right environment that nurtures others to solve them. If your team is smarter than you are, you're in the right place. Scary place, but right place.
- Listen , learn, adapt. Read your team and learn what is working and what is not. And if they tell you what is and isn't working, listen, ask questions, and don't take it personally. Then change and improve. It is better for everyone.
- Trust in others. Whoever put you where you are, whether it's in your MBA program or in your leadership position, saw something in you. It's there. People who know people know you can be a leader. When I first started out, I was nervous. I saved every positive email I got at work and put them in a folder. I went back to it from time to time and reread them. Simple ego boost!
- ...Until you can trust yourself. You will get to a point where this becomes easier. Take time out to notice when you are doing well. When something worked. Things working are much harder to see than things not working. You won't get compliments. But you should read the absence of any issues, as a compliment.
Finally you'll get to a point where you think, nothing was f**ked up today! Yay me!
Now, pat yourself on the back -- you're a leader! Welcome to the club.
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