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Are people natural born leaders, or is leadership more like a muscle that is grown and developed with time, practice and dedication? I believe that effective leadership incorporates skillsets that everyone can learn and develop. With some courage, inner motivation and intentional practice, you can build up your confidence and grow your leadership skills so that you too can become an impactful and empowering leader. How do I know this to be true? Well, from personal experience …
Back in the day, I did not consider myself to be a leader, and I used to be seriously afraid of public speaking. The idea of speaking to large groups, being live on TV or hosting a podcast was definitely not on the list of things I thought I would be capable of doing. At that time, the idea of speaking to a crowd, even giving a speech to family and friends at a wedding, left me feeling anxious and stressed. Those types of situations were things I wanted to avoid at all costs. That is, until I discovered something I felt was worth overcoming my fears for.
Once I discovered and figured out my personal mission, I knew that I had a message I wanted to share with the world. This sparked the inner motivation and courage I needed to put myself out there and face my fears. With repeated practice, trial and error and lots of dedication, I have gotten to a place where I really love being a keynote speaker, being live on TV and hosting my podcast. I even recently gave a TEDx talk! I am about to share four key tips that helped me get to where I am now in the hopes that they can help you as well. Let’s get to it:
1. Focus on the value you bring to others
Make it less about you and more about the people you are helping. Focusing on your mission and how it positively impacts others can help reduce the fear of failing, the fear of judgement and other insecurities that can surface when you are growing and stepping into a leadership position. When you make your message and the information you are sharing about something larger than yourself, you will be more motivated to try new things and embrace the discomfort that can come with branching out of your comfort zone.
2. Enhance your verbal and non-verbal communication
Your body language, non-verbal cues and your voice sends a message. It can portray the message that you are confident and at ease, or it can send the message that you are uncertain and uncomfortable. Having awareness about the signals you are giving out is a great place to start. Once you have awareness, you can start making the appropriate shifts to put out the message that you are confident, trustworthy and capable. Some easy things that can build confidence and trust include a genuine smile, having an upright posture, making good eye contact and having an open stance with your arms and body. Aim to speak in a non-rushed manner, and utilize your tone to effectively convey your message. This all gets easier with practice.
3. Harness a growth mindset
“I’m bad at this” or “I’m not good enough to do that” are two examples of phrases and self-talk that could be holding you back from feeling confident as a leader. Work on having a growth mindset where you recognize that all challenges are learning opportunities, and setbacks are chances to see or do things in a new way. “I’m bad at this” could be perceived as “I’m still learning,” and “I’m not good enough to do that” could be perceived as “This may take a bit more time and practice.” Cultivating a growth mindset can help shift your perspective to build confidence and support a leadership position.
Related: Understanding The Growth Mindset
4. Practice, practice, and practice some more
To build confidence and establish your unique skillset as a leader, you need to practice. When I wanted to become more confident and comfortable as a speaker, I started off with something approachable for me, which was teaching some University students from where I received my Master’s degree. I then started to share videos and content on social media regularly. I launched my podcast, and over time, I began to have more and more prominent speaking engagements. I started getting represented by speaking bureaus, getting booked as a keynote speaker and more. This did not happen overnight, and it took time, effort and lots and lots of practice.
What are some approachable ways that you can start to practice the skills you need to develop to be an effective leader? When you are starting out, try to not overthink it, and recognize that there can be some growing pains in the beginning. Embrace that this is part of the process. The more you practice, the easier it gets, and the more comfortable you will feel. Always remember to be proud of yourself for the effort you are putting in and the progress you make!
Related: What Does It Take To Be a Leader?
Disclaimer: This content purely represents the opinion of the author and is not medical advice or treatment recommendations. Always talk to your healthcare provider about recommendations specific to you.