Leadership: Confidence and Competence By Bonnie Ross-Parker

I found the Netflix series, The Crown, engaging.  Briefly stated, it’s a fascinating history of the British Monarchy.  It starts with Elizabeth inheriting the position of Queen after her father, the King died.  When she was crowned in 1953, Elizabeth was only 25. 

You and I – we could never imagine the incredible & overwhelming responsibility she faced at such a young age. Queen Elizabeth is now 95. She has served the monarchy for 70 years. You might be thinking and rightfully so – what does this have to do with my topic?  

Elizabeth recognized she was totally ill-prepared for her unexpected & untimely role as the Queen of England. 

As a young child, her education largely revolved around preparing her for the position she would one day inherit. For example, a lot of instruction centered on protocol, what was expected of her, how to handle the multitude of servants and statesmen, etc.  When she took on the position, she quickly realized that her education was totally devoid of the real world beyond the monarchy. 

Her knowledge of history was lacking.  Her decision-making skills were almost invisible. She lacked both confidence and competence.  And if that wasn’t enough, she was facing a man’s world.

Queen Elizabeth decided to engage a tutor who could offer her real guidance in the reality she inherited.  This individual was hired with the strictness of confidentiality.  He became her education savior. 

Over time, she was groomed to rely on her own with strength and conviction. Just imagine having to suddenly lead – no matter what the circumstance – not even knowing how to start, what to do & without anyone to help you navigate the challenges you’d face. 

I mention this story to help you recognize the importance of developing your leadership skills by strengthening both your self-confidence & effectiveness. 

Self-confidence means to trust in oneself.  It implies having faith in one’s ability to meet situations as they may arise.  One becomes competent to the degree that one learns from experience.  It implies developing the skills necessary to effect policy, change & offer guidance.

Especially as I consider network marketing, leaders who exemplify both confidence & competence don’t step up intending to enlighten or inspire.  They lead because they are prepared.  They lead because they believe in themselves.  They offer others something of value.  And, as a result of their work & contributions, they set an example of what’s possible because of who they are & what they do. 

Leaders step up & take responsibility for the success of their team.

I have no idea where you are right now as you assess your own confidence & competence.  What I do know, however, is developing both skill sets will serve you well as you carve your future in the network marketing profession.  For me, leadership has always been something I’ve admired in others & a quality I’ve strengthened throughout my life. 

My greatest reward came witnessing firsthand individual growth & each team’s bottom-line results.  I believe leaders facilitate – allowing others to shine.  Leaders are only as effective as the results the team achieves by working collaboratively.  My philosophy then &  now is simply this –

Leaders maintain focus on trusting & allowing participants to produce what’s expected.

So now let’s really talk  leadership.   What are its elements?   How does one become a leader?   Is it a natural skill or something someone has to learn through experience

We’ve all heard the expression, “He or she was a born leader.”  Is this actually true? In defining leadership, there are numerous ways of indicating who or what a leader is. A leader defines the established tasks & goals.  Then, others are charged to carry out the activities once everyone is in agreement.

I’m of the point of view, based on what I’ve read about leadership,  that for a woman to be a leader she has to go way beyond what is characteristically a man’s role.  Believe me, that is not how I would view a female leader.  I think it’s just the reality of how many individuals think. To that extent, this means that any of us – all of us – can be leaders in one’s own corner of the world. 

In my view, Leadership involves two interchangeable characteristics: Confidence & Competence.  There are numerous characteristics that come into play.  One has to be totally honest and aware of one’s shortcomings.  Confidence will guide a leader to reach her goals.  How committed one is to make a difference in the world is a strong motivator. Leaders get things done.  Excuses have no value.  Gender has no bearing on effective leadership. 

What is particularly interesting is that you can possess self-confidence and, yet, feel ill prepared to be competent.  You can be competent and yet privately question your effectiveness & remain unsure when it comes to your decisions, your performance & outcomes. You lack confidence.  Both  Cs have to work together for someone to be a successful leader. 

People can be led if they trust the leader, recognize her motives are not driven by ego, feel valued & appreciated.

Effective leaders expect a lot from themselves & they expect a lot from others.  They are responsible to create a spirit of optimism that expectations are  achievable.  Leaders give people the tools & support they need for them to be confident in their ability to achieve them.  When a leader demonstrates confidence…that quality permeates the organization.

There are several elements combined to give an individual the feeling of having confidence. 

The 1st  one is to aim for mastery. 

You learn through trial & error.  You gain to the degree you can overcome self-doubt.  For example, you meet a situation or hurdle. Through positive self-talk, you push through which increases your well-being & then praise yourself for progress.

The 2nd  is action learning

Some will say that learning is the key to success.  I think the combination of putting learning into action is the key.  Your confidence will improve to the degree you’re prepared & willing to overcome hesitation.

Failure is character building and the 3rd  factor. 

You have to be willing to take risks.  When I left the classroom to ultimately become an entrepreneur… imagine the risks I took in doing so.  You have to accept that you’ll fail now and then.  You revisit the situation, assess what went wrong & keep going.  The scenario of try, fail, learn, repeat, try, succeed & so on will likely be the journey you’ll encounter.  This pattern will strengthen your confidence.  Not doing something will not produce the results you want.  Overcoming a risk by achieving personal success is its own reward.

The 4th confidence builder is embracing what you did well

Assess what you learned.  Be honest with yourself if you slipped up… it’s ok.  Apply what you learned for the next round.  Celebrate what you’re learning about yourself.  For some reason, this is especially difficult for women.  If you’re like me, when I screw up I take it personally.  Beating myself up for a mistake is not a way to move mine or your confidence forward.  Learning from mistakes is both challenging and rewarding.  The only way to improve, however,  is to apply a new plan for the next encounter.  It’s critical that you avoid self-blame.  It’s critical you build on your successes.  I’m not sure why women take mistakes personally.  Never ever diminish your self-confidence.  Work on it.  Strengthen it.  Build positive self-talk.  Success will happen!

Embrace imperfection is #5

None of us are perfect.  Learn to do things “well enough” to meet the challenges you face.  This will help you be more effective.  Be productive.  Focus on what you need to do to build your leadership, your career, and your team.

The 6th element is similar to the last one.  Always center your thoughts toward action

Focusing on what didn’t go right is a waste of energy.  Eliminate worry.  It will slow you down & decrease your confidence.  Train your thoughts on finding solutions.  The time spent planning is significantly more valuable than hashing out over & over again what didn’t happen. Women can be & deserve to be superpowers if they possess the mindset required.

Eliminate all negative self-talk is strategy #7. 

Keep toxic talk at bay.  Recognize when you’re beating yourself up.  Stop immediately.  Do not let anyone or any circumstance diminish your confidence.  Go back to #3.  We are all building on our confidence every time we falter, review, learn from what didn’t go as planned – move forward.  This is about lifelong learning – It is NOT –  been there – done that – over & out.

#8, is to speak up and speak more often

This is especially true for us as women often functioning in male-dominated spaces.  Women tend to hold back, take on a more reserved stance and hesitate.  I can only address this from my own experiences.  In my drive for perfection, this plays a powerful role in sometimes holding me back from addressing the situation or speaking my mind.  Let’s be forthright with one another.  Women ALL have the capacity to share their views & expertise.  Holding back from what you can offer will not only sabotage your confidence it will keep others from knowing how talented you are.  So, you have to learn to step up & speak up when you have opportunities to do so.   

Now I’m going to switch from confidence to competence. 

The skills & strengths one develops through experience feed into both arenas. In fact, you’ll soon recognize many of the characteristics do overlap.  Skills that reflect confidence are also ones that produce competence. Being competent not only affects one’s leadership success, but it also impacts your entire organization.

1.  Competence is an attitude, a way of life toward one’s job, at home & even in one’s community. 

2. Essential values. Each value is critical in the leadership model for success.  One can only build a business, an organization, or entity by combining the efforts of the individuals behind the scenes and in the forefront.  A competent leader instills his or her values which, through time, permeate all areas. 

3. Authenticity – One’s attitudes & actions bear witness to one’s behavior as a leader.  Being competent is knowing that others will…

4.  respect you.  They trust you have their best interests in mind.  Real leaders don’t achieve their status because they need to lead.  They need to be authentic.   Their pursuit of authenticity requires effort.  This is then reflected in the behavior of the team they lead.

5. Self-awareness requires making an honest assessment of one’s strengths as well as weaknesses.

6. Self-mastery occurs when one learns how to manage ego, emotion & ambition.  It’s taking full responsibility for the way you act.   It means being in alignment for the good of the entity being lead. 

7. Self-belief includes viewing the world from an abundance perspective and reflects your determination toward success.  It includes having confidence in one’s ability to meet the challenges of work & in life.  Competency is strengthened through study, networking, goal-setting & other constructive activities.   When one embraces

8. Self-truth, it’s simply a leader’s courage & strength to remain true to oneself.  Not unlike demonstrating integrity.

9. How does having Courage relate to being competent?  The bottom line to courage is simply (although not so simple) overcoming fear.  Fear works best as an ally.  It draws your attention to critical problems & compels you to take corrective actions.  It’s critical for any leader to learn to manage fear.  Identify what you fear.  Engage others to help process what needs to be done.  Overcoming fear can only happen when you confront it.  This requires preparation & discipline.  When you’re competent, you know you can find solutions to problems as they arise.  You & I know, they will!  All of us learn from past experiences. Previous situations help us plan & navigate present & future events.  Courage fuels competence.

10. The next value is Perseverance.  Determination is a daily & ongoing commitment.  It requires doing whatever it takes to progress toward established goals.  It allows you to conquer self-doubt & negativity. When applied, one overcomes obstacles & setbacks.  To persevere, you learn the skills needed to cultivate a no-quit attitude.  You remain determined to achieve the goals of the business, organization, or entity.  Perseverance implies a defined purpose & fortitude to persist through difficult times.  It implies having the patience to push through adversity. 

When I think about what this past year brought – and the challenges which resulted, I would suspect that perseverance was a necessary element for all individuals & businesses to keep going in spite of existing circumstances.  To exercise patience during the worst of circumstances is a huge challenge even for the most competent individuals. In light of addressing the importance of perseverance, this a good time to consider…

11. Vision is another key component to being competent.   Bottom line:  It’s essential to possess a strong belief in yourself & what you want to accomplish.  Vision is like a guiding light that illuminates your path & journey.  Vision keeps your plan alive.  It’s the cornerstone to what you want to accomplish.  Having the skills & competency to create the outcome you want includes self-belief.

12. Mission is a purpose statement.  Mission is the commitment to bring about the desired vision.  It brings meaning to work.  It’s the glue that brings together team members, creates mutual trust & insures teamwork.  All elements combine to achieve the company’s important goals.  Great leaders possess the competence to foster team allegiance, progress & outcome.   

13. Enthusiasm.  I believe for a leader to be effective he/she has to feel the excitement and anticipation of the work at hand.  Enthusiasm is contagious.

14. Focus is another component of competency.  The more one is willing to eliminate temptation & distraction in order to stay focused is critical for success.  When combined with concentration, taking the initiative & keeping goals front & center,  these factors bring about a winning result.  Leaders build a sense of urgency.  Move quickly to foster focus.  There is less chance of being diverted or distracted from the business at hand when individuals & the team maintain momentum.

15. Awareness. Be aware of what’s going on.  Pay attention to the team’s most important resource – it’s the individuals you are leading & who are serving you, the business, organization or project. How you interact & how players interact with one another can make or break efficiency.

Competent leaders know that the more you work to help others be successful, the greater will be one’s own ultimate success.  Lead with love.  Give of yourself.  Serve your followers as a coach, a mentor, a counselor and, yes, a cheerleader.  Be inspiring. Accept others unconditionally.  Support a cause you believe in. Be a problem solver.

16. I now want to offer a few steps for cultivating an organization that becomes known for its Integrity.  Always do the right thing.  Use praise not fear.  Be compassionate when appropriate.  Be absolutely intolerant of wrong-doing.  Address unethical or abusive behavior head-on for exactly what it is.  Remember, people are always observing how you handle situations.  They’re especially watching how you deal with difficult encounters. Protect &  sustain trust.  Trust is a fragile element. A leader can never ever compromise his or her trustworthiness.

17. The last value I want to address is Faith.  I’m not suggesting anything related to religion.  Rather, this faith reflects your belief in your abilities to carry out your commitments.  Faith in yourself is a critical component for personal success.  One must also maintain faith in your team, its members & faith in the future of your endeavor.  Leaders maintain faith that their combined efforts are making a difference in the world.  To be an effective leader, you must consciously cultivate a positive self-image & nurture high self-esteem.  Only when you believe in yourself, will others believe in you. 

Leadership is an earned privilege.

To the degree you continue to build on & strengthen both your confidence & competence, you will position yourself to lead others.  Being a leader is awesome.  You inspire followers to develop their own skillset.  By strengthening your team you strengthen the vision & mission you’ve established. 

It’s an amazing accomplishment to help prepare and foster new leaders.  The test of any leader’s ultimate effectiveness is the extent to which one develops new leaders.  These  new leaders can build on the foundation that ultimately becomes the leader’s legacy to the organization. 

It’s my opinion, women have a unique opportunity in the workplace because of their ability to manage, multi-task, work on projects & engage in our collaborative/inter-active skills.  There is absolutely no reason for any woman to be intimidated, to hold back on her expertise, or to lack self-esteem & self-respect.

I recently read a study that indicated women have historically kept their heads down & played by the rules. What holds you & I, any woman, back from being the incredible, capable person she is?  It all comes down to confidence.  Strengthening both your confidence & competence will undoubtedly position you for the greatness you deserve. 

If, on the other hand, you still have a year or more to continue your studies, decide to step up.  Lead a club.  Be on an advisory board.  Initiate a school project.  Anything you can do now to build your leadership skills will serve you well in all future endeavors.     The world is waiting for your contribution.  The world needs your energy, your insights, and your talent. 

This is not a time to step back.  It is the time to step up, make a difference & give the world your confidence, your competence & your contributions.

Bonnie Ross-Parker – brossparker@gmail.com 404-849-3767 – www.BonnieRossParker.com

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