Self-confidence not only means different things to different people but how you develop your confidence is unique to you. Confidence is one of those skills that are non-negotiable as you climb the corporate ladder and assume more senior roles in your organisation. If, however, you pursue a one-size-fits all approach to building self-confidence, frustration and maybe even failure may soon be on your horizon.
But what does self-awareness have to do with self-confidence? To illustrate this connection, I will share the story of Sam (name changed to preserve identity). Sam called on me for help in developing her confidence. She described a sense of anxiety around meeting and engaging with people. In addition, she observed that she did not have great rapport with peers and colleagues and really wanted to change this.
Her work performance was outstanding in terms of the delivery on complex projects, but she struggled to network to increase her potential customer base, to engage with new clients for the first time and to build relationships with her peers.
The starting point was to help Sam to understand the source of her challenges through gaining a deeper sense of self-awareness. And an important step in this process was the completion of a personality profiling assessment, in this case, her online Contribution Compass assessment. We found that Sam was a Conductor profile with very high Tempering and Activating energies. Not surprisingly, her inspiring energy (which is the energy that increases your natural ability to connect with people) was her lowest score.
Natural energy reflects the way that you naturally think and operate. There are four natural energies within Contribution Compass namely, the Activating Energy (creating, change-making), Inspiring Energy (people-driven, connecting), Sustaining Energy (Getting things done) and Tempering Energy (analysing, refining).
This explained why Sam could start new projects, analyse complex data and deliver outstanding results on client engagements but struggled to network and connect with people. Sam was incredibly confident when talking about the results on a project, but, on the other hand hit a speed bump when building rapport.
We explored how her natural energy mix contributed to her ability to work in the background and limited her ability to engage with and connect to people, and this insight alone provided her not only with the opportunity to understand the source of her barriers to engagement but also to develop a strategic plan to overcome them.
Now Sam was already a trail-blazer in the workplace and even if she didn’t pursue this path of personal development, she would still be successful. This success however would eventually reach a ceiling and in the process did not feel complete to Sam. Her limited ability to connect with people was impacting her at a deeper level and without realising it, was actually making her sad.
Providing Sam with the insights to understand why she didn’t feel confident in these situations and mapping out a plan to overcome her challenges placed Sam in a stronger position to not only achieve her goals in the workplace, but to create new and even more exciting goals for herself.
Understanding your personality and your natural energies will allow you to appreciate your natural strengths, and to develop and use them to unlock opportunities for success in all areas of your life. You will also gain insight into your natural ‘weaknesses’ which, you will realise does not provide an excuse for not developing and improving a skill, but rather a deeper understanding into why you feel limited in certain areas. This deeper level of self-awareness provides you with insights into the source of your greatest frustrations and an opportunity to turn those barriers to success into massive learning and development opportunities.
And just like Sam, who used her self-awareness to take strategic actions toward connecting with people and thereby increasing her level of confidence, so can you. There are areas in which you absolutely shine and there are areas in which your confidence is taking a beating. This could be from a time management, people connection or maybe even an innovation or creativity perspective.
Whatever the source of your broken confidence, my advice is to actively pursue greater self-awareness. And that improvement starts with mastering your personality. Develop a plan to maximize the value derived from your strengths to your employers, family, community and yourself. And more importantly, identify the gaps created by your natural energy compared to the skills necessary to your success, and develop and implement a strategic action plan to close those gaps.
And this, quite simply put, is how a greater sense of self-awareness can increase your self-confidence.
About the author
Usha Maharaj CA(SA) is a Success Strategist.
She is a sought-after Coach and Mentor who works with individuals, executives and teams.
Usha takes her passion for high performance into the workplace through HR and Talent consulting, helping companies to develop and implement strategies to get the best out of their people while engaging their teams in the meaningful pursuit of excellence.
Visit www.ushamaharaj.com to read her blog or to find out more.