Instilling and Inspiring Confidence In Your Team Members

Instilling and Inspiring Confidence In Your Team Members

For the past few months I have had the absolute pleasure of working with an organization that is incredibly open, forward-thinking, and amenable to culture improvements, career path planning, job leveling, and leadership development – it has been a super fun project AND because the entire company from the C-level to the most junior level team members are behind – and eager for – change initiatives and programs to elevate culture, customer experience, employee experience, productivity – it has been an exceedingly poignant and rewarding working experience.

One of the greatest opportunities I identified within the first 10-14 days [framework assessment period] was the opportunity to inspire confidence in the junior and mid-level leadership of the company. This company has a fabulous mission statement – however, it was being severely underutilized. Even today, in many industries…there are too many senior-level executives don’t recognize that their company’s mission statement and organizational values are an incredible [and essential] asset in improving organizational performance and profitability, and because of this they neglect their ultimate responsibility of aligning their brand and culture with the compelling purpose of the company. A strong mission statement and values must be a living & breathing element of the company’s culture. When it is, it provides a compass for responsible and courageous innovation and decision making.

To instill a passion for the company’s purpose, the best leaders in the world hold their leadership accountable for addressing employees’ non-negotiable engagement needs. Then they focus on aligning the mission, the culture, and the brand to empower high performance and productivity among individuals and teams. By providing this strategic vision, mission-driven leaders maximize employee engagement as a key driver of organizational performance – and as a strong and reliable predictor of business success.

There are lots of things [skills, competencies, policies, processes etc.] in the workplace that you can train through Learning Management platforms [LMS], classroom style training, or alternative method of formal learning. However, there are some softer skills and competencies that you need to train through social learning and/or experiential learning. Instilling confidence in people is something that you need to do – authentically and directly – by connecting with your team and ensuring they have the tools, resources, and determination to be successful.

Frequently I see leaders assign stretch assignments to team members that are vague or without discernible meaning or purpose to a larger objective and say something like, “You’re a smart cookie…I know you’ll figure it out“, “You’ve got a ton of potential“, or by telling them – generically – how sharp and invaluable they are to the business, but not offering actual development through a growth-focused partnership. Employing this hand’s-off strategy when it comes to our team members growth is the most certain way to exacerbate any doubt they may have around their abilities.


TREAT EACH PERSON WITH A HIGH-LEVEL OF RESPECT: Absolutely no one wants to feel like a project or a burden – so genuinely supporting your team’s growth – and confidence – consistently means getting to know each individual that is on your team and what is important to them in their career path and their conveyable marketability for future opportunities – and being a truly invested and enthusiastic source of learning and growth will help you guide them in their professional journey.

WORK DIRECTLY WITH THEM: Confidence and competence are intertwined. If team members feel that they’re not developing professionally and that their perceived value and skill set are being under-utilized, they’ll naturally – but unfortunately –  begin to doubt their abilities. To increase your team members’ confidence, you have to help them improve and learn new skills so they can play a stronger role in contributing to the organization. Provide them with real feedback and encourage two way candor in these dialogs to ensure that there is a clear path of communication.

A great way to build up your team members’ competence and confidence is to delegate specific tasks that will help them grow in an area they’re interested in or they need to develop in. Just be cautious that you don’t delegate too soon, too quickly, or too much; and don’t leave people to their own when they are in a new territory of accountability. When someone lacks confidence and competence it’s significantly better to gradually give them more responsibility and to check in with them – frequently – or follow up with them until they, clearly, no longer rely on you. Your job is to help your team members set reachable, but ambitious, goals and to break difficult tasks into smaller steps and learn how to prioritize and ensure action around those tasks. In that way, people will gain confidence as they start to master each step of the assignment and have you [and others] available as a resource when they meet with an impediment, that they can reach out to.

FOCUS ON THEIR STRENGTHS: As an effective team leader you’re likely to have some level of influence over who takes on what assignments. You can use that to actively build up someone’s confidence by giving them work that they’re genuinely good at and likely interested in. People’s confidence [and frequently their motivation] will typically rise when they’re given the chance to put their skills into practice and show their expertise.

HAVE THEM TEACH THEIR PEERS: Even though this can fit under the previous point, it deserves it’s own blurb. When someone excels in an area they want to share their knowledge and they have to – in order to build confidence and credibility with their colleagues and senior leadership. Giving someone the opportunity to train others will help support collaboration, workplace relationships, and the proactive sharing of vital information and best practices. Doing this helps each person find their professional voice and style.

EMBRACE MISTAKES & FAILURE: Like always, when I type this type of statement up I know how profoundly counter-intuitive it seems but there is SO much caution and terror – in most workplaces – around failure and errors that we have to encourage a safe space for innovative and ideas without knowing exactly what the result may be. When you remove the fear of failure you make people feel inherently safe. As a result, team members understand they have more latitude and are, therefore, more inclined to contribute and experiment. Knowing that they have creative space to learn from their mistakes rather than being punished for or embarrassed by them builds their confidence and eliminates a large portion of negative energy and apprehension. Essentially, you free people up to pursue the path that will support reaching their objectives [and, ultimately, the organization’s as well].

BE PRESENT: One of the most elemental ways to encourage and support confidence is to actively build them up emotionally in the moments when they need it most or when they hit important milestones. And one of the best ways to create a strong supportive foundation is to, as mentioned before, connect with individuals one-on-one and be an active participant along their career path. When you do, you create a collaborative and supportive space to sincerely listen to their concerns, help them overcome obstacles, and help them realize how much they have to contribute. When you get to know the members of your team at a more personal level [their compelling purpose; what excites them; what really matters to them] you’ll intuitively know how to best support them.



Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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