Confidence: Where can I get some?
October 7, 2010
At UW-Green Bay’s recent leadership conference, Max U. Day, participants began the morning by answering the question: “What do you want to learn today?” About 30 possible responses were provided. One of the most common answers was
“to build confidence, to act assertively, and to function without the need for constant reassurance.”
Research points to confidence as a key trait of effective leaders. According to Peter G. Northouse, author of Introduction to Leadership, “Confident people believe they can accomplish their goals” (2009, p. 21).
Students in UWGB’s First-Year Seminar on Leadership recently were assigned to interview a leader and write a paper about it. One of the leaders was quoted as saying, “I personally don’t think I’m a very good leader, but I guess people like me, so who knows, maybe I’m doing a good job.”
Where does confidence come from? Certainly Max U. Day tries to influence this trait. Workshop topics included being assertive, identifying personal strengths, and working through conflict. In fact, one participant wrote the following about her Max U. Day experiences: “I learned that it’s okay to say ‘no.’ I need to say ‘no’ without fear others will hate me.”
Practice also builds confidence. When we first learn to drive, we feel fear. After driving hundreds of miles, that fear fades away. Challenging ourselves to do more and thus to learn more helps us to feel more self-assured.
Northouse suggests that “taking on leadership roles, even minor ones on committees or through volunteer activities, provides practice for being a leader” (p. 22).
In fact, several people who were interviewed for the leadership course said that they began experiencing leadership in elementary school. Maybe you did too. Were you a line leader, a student crossing guard, or a team captain? Did you and your friends or siblings organize a lemonade stand? Did you belong to 4-H, Scouts, or some other similar organization?
The confidence it takes to lead well can be learned. Challenge yourself to take advantage of the many opportunities available at UW-Green Bay for fine-tuning your skills and building your self-esteem. The results may surprise you.
As inventor Thomas Edison once said, “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”