I am currently enrolled in one of the most dynamic leadership programs of my career. It is powerful because we are a group of leaders within the business and/or civic community, and we are discussing leadership from a few different perspectives. It is also fun to be a participant, rather than the leader, for a change! One of my favorite concepts it that Leadership begins with Self-Trust. Contrary to the idea of leadership being an “out-there” focus: saying the right things or effectively inspiring others to perform desired tasks; the best leaders trust themselves. The first step begins with each of us individually. Stephen M. R. Covey says, “to build trust with others, we must first start with ourselves.”
At first glance, it seems like an easy answer – “of course I trust myself – it’s all those bozos out there that are the problem.” Yet, as all great leaders know, it takes reflection with a true and vulnerable look at ourselves to get the real picture.
How does a lack of self-trust show up?
Lack of Confidence – Not keeping our word to ourselves. How many times do you set the alarm clock for the morning, only to hit the snooze button several times before finally getting out of bed? Where are you not “walking the talk” – not living by the beliefs you hold or achieving the goals you set? This can show up by missing deadlines or cancelling meetings, for example. These are examples of a lack of confidence and a shortfall of trust in keeping commitments to ourselves (the alarm clock) and counting on ourselves, which erodes confidence in other areas of life.
Lack of Competence – Not having enough knowledge or experience. Even when it’s uncomfortable, great leaders dive in to this aspect of self-reflection and honesty. Evaluate the areas that need improvement, more learning, more experience. The “fake-it-til-you-make-it” mentality only goes so far when you truly don’t believe or don’t understand the topic. This missing of self-trust may show up as reluctance to reach out to a prospect or deliver a presentation, for example.
A lack of self-trust also shows up with those little voices of fear, doubt, worry, or worse that creep in to sabotage progress, projects, or thoughts.
How can self-trust be increased?
Awareness – Start noticing how many times you hit the snooze button. Where are you not following through; not keeping your commitments to your goals? Assess areas of weakness to address or opportunities to increase your knowledge base. Instead of beating yourself up, or even worse – making excuses – ask yourself how you want things to be different.
Action – And then, like Nike says, “Just Do It!” Make a plan with small steps to move you closer to where you want to be. Practice keeping commitments to yourself. If you commit to writing your blog on a certain day, actually block the time on your calendar and set the timer for two hours to keep yourself focused. Close your office door, don’t open your email program, and put your phone on do not disturb.
Accountability – To help you gain the knowledge and experience you may be lacking, enroll in a workshop or work with a professional. Self-trust is increased when we value our commitments to ourselves and to our own goals, and treat them with the same level of importance as we would with a client or prospect.
All change is a combination of awareness, action, and accountability. What is one small step you can take today, and put into practice, to increase your self-trust and enhance your leadership?
Kim Ellet is a certified professional coach and owner of The Growth Coach of Metro Atlanta. She finds joy in helping successful leaders committed to continuous improvement, be more of who they are, dream bigger dreams, and accomplish more than they realized was possible. www.TheGrowthCoachATL.com