Why Confidence is so Important When Leading Change and How to Build It

by Jennifer Miller on May 30, 2013

in Guest Blogger, Leadership

Guest Post by Phil Buckley

Lead with Confidence Confidence is the most important trait leaders can draw upon when leading change. They need to be confident that they are looking at the right information, making the right decisions and giving people the right support to take on new routines. Confidence enables focus, builds momentum and inspires people to give their best. The leader who says, “I know we will build a better future,” is the one people believe in and want to follow.

Lack of confidence produces opposite outcomes: uncertainty about facts and data, short-term decision making and poor support for people taking on new ways of working. The leader who says, “I don’t know what the future will bring,” is the one people question as they struggle.

Confidence is most needed when leaders lead change. They are continually faced with change-related questions that cannot be answered based on past experience. To lead change well, leaders must exercise their thinking and skills to redesign their organization while delivering current business results. Changing a tire on a moving bus requires confidence that it will improve the vehicle and get to its current destination on time.

So if confidence is so important to leading change, how can leaders build theirs? Here are five quick ways that leaders can build their confidence to be change-ready:

  • Review their roles in past change projects. Most leaders have contributed to change projects in their careers. Noting achievements and the specific skills and behaviors that led to them will instantly boost confidence. Their new change project will benefit from the positive efforts made during past changes.
  • Read past performance appraisals. Annual appraisals provide excellent evidence of change-ready skills demonstrated by year. They provide proof to leaders that they will be used when needed during the change project. Appraisals also identify development themes that leaders manage through the skills of their team members.
  • Speak with peers who have undergone similar changes. Leaders can build their confidence by learning from the experiences of others. Many change-related challenges will have been dealt with by people in their network. Leaders can also call upon their peers to help them solve questions they face during the change project.
  • Make a list of things that will support the change. There are positive forces, both internal and external, that support any change project. Perhaps the current computer systems will simplify reporting after the change is made, an influential employee has been requesting this change for years, or competitors have already benefited from a similar change. There are many enabling circumstances that the leader can draw upon to build confidence that the change will be successful.
  • Review the benefits that the change will bring. Employees typically ask two questions when they learn of a big change to their roles: “How does this change make the organization better?” and “How will it make my life better?” Even with difficult changes such as downsizings, there are positive benefits for most people. Making a list of them will build leaders’ confidence and provide information employees need to build theirs too.

Confidence is essential to leading an organization and its people through change.  Leaders must guide and motivate their teams to change how they work to build a better future. Taking the time to build their confidence will help them become change-ready. It’s time well spent, both for the leaders and those who they are leading.

You may also enjoy: 5 Ways to Overcome Resistance to Change and Leadership Development – A Key Strategy for Change Management.

Image credit: istock/000010511554

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