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How Leaders Can Help Others Improve Their Confidence Levels By Robert Bacal

One of the characteristics of an effective leader is that he or she "makes those around them into better performers". That's oft said about the best athletes, but also applies to musicians, and even managers like yourself.

While the best athletes contribute to their team with their advanced talent and skills, they also affect those around them by helping others increase their confidence levels. Or even to boost the self-esteem of their teammates.

It's no different in organizations, and no different for managers and those in leadership positions.

The Task of Defining Confidence/Self-Esteem

Our interest is not to delve into the rather complex gray areas of psychology and the various approaches to confidence, self-esteem and self-efficacy. Our task is to come up with concrete actions you can take to help others act more confidently.

So let's define the employee/follower behavior we want to create.

  1. We want employees who can make decisions on their own, without involving others, and that takes some degree of confidence. We don't want employees who need to be told what to do all the time.
  2. We want employees who will take reasonable and thought out risks.
  3. We want employees to actively participate in teams and other work groups, feeling comfortable in speaking, and contributing ideas.
  4. We want employees who, eventually, will come to self-regulate their confidence. That means they don't need constant praise and congratulations.
  5. Finally, we want employees who's confidence is sufficient to handle feedback, both positive and negative, without sustaining blows to their self-esteem and confidence.

Setting Goals To Improve Confidence

For employees to act confidently, they need to understand what is expected. One of the biggest reasons staff "freeze" is that they are confused about what is wanted, and why.

Not only that, but the process of setting goals, working on achieving the goals, and receiving feedback is THE major determinant of whether an individual's confidence will rise or fall.

Guide To Setting Goals WITH Staff To Increase Confidence

Goals need not be formal ones, but can be developed on the fly during discussions, even short ones, with staff. Their power comes from the face to face interactions.

  1. Set goals with employees based on the characteristics and job responsibilities and talents for each employee. In other words, you will often have goals that differ for employees even when they have the same job title.
  2. Goals should take into account talent, ability, past success, personality, and so on. That means we want goals to require an individual to stretch to achieve the goals, because we want people to reach those goals. While people do learn from failure, some people don't function well with failure.
  3. When setting goals, be sure the employee understands what is expected. It's best to specify and agree on an outcome, rather than a process, but with less experiences staff, it may help to provide training wheels in the form of agreeing upon a process or method to achieve the goal(s).
  4. Be clear that the employee has certain responsibilities, will be held accountable, and also has certain AUTHORITY to make decisions.
  5. Finally, with people who are risk averse, and clearly lacking in confidence, set much shorter, "chunkable" goals. Short term achievable goals work better for more timid people. Help them along by specifying short goal achievement time spans (even down to an hour or a day), and tailor the goals to fit that time span.
  6. For the more experienced and already confident, provide "larger" goals, at longer time spans.

Conclusion: Invest In Confidence Building

A manager or leader who has confident employees who take initiative and require less supervision will spend far less time having to micromanage. It's much like the process of delegation, except that there is more intent to grow the confidence of employees.

Stay tuned, because the goal setting process is just one part of confidence building. The support you provide to employees during the carrying out of their tasks, AND the use of feedback will also make big differences.

If you would like more help with the process of setting goals particularly within the context of a performance management system, click here.


About Company

Bacal & Associates was founded in 1992. Since then Robert has trained thousands of employees to deal with angry, hostile, abusive and potentially violent customers. He has authored over 20 books on various subjects, many published by McGraw-Hill.


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