Management Matters Management MattersManagement Matters
Practical advice for federal leaders on managing people, processes and projects.

The Person in the Mirror

ARCHIVES

Sure, some animals can smell fear, but can your employees smell yours? Managers with strong self-confidence are better able to listen and lead, and are more likely to develop the kind of command presence that is most effective in the workplace.

Timothy Bednarz, author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Majorium Business Press, 2011), studied and cataloged the common attributes of 160 influential American leaders over 235 years. Among the similarities he discovered was a deep sense of confidence, which encouraged these leaders to take their first steps toward greatness and to pick themselves up when they hit bumps along the way.

There are dozens of books and articles available on building self-confidence, but Bednarz says the initial focus must be on developing self-belief. "This implies knowing without a doubt that you can do it, no matter what you realistically set your mind to do," he says. Henry Ford was such a strong believer in people with this sort of outlook that he "would hire workers who didn't understand the meaning of impossible and would keep pushing the limits of their imagination."

According to Bednarz, self-belief fuels the strong sense of optimism that leaders need to take the risks that jump-start their careers. He quotes Jeff Bezos of Amazon as saying: "optimism is essential when trying to do anything difficult, because difficult things often take a long time. That optimism can carry you through the various stages as the long term unfolds. And it's the long term that matters."

It also allows leaders to overcome the adversity and failure that inevitably follow initial risks. John Chambers of Cisco apparently held strong to his belief in himself and the company, even during a difficult period when revenues were collapsing. Managers in the company indicated that his optimism that Cisco would "come out of the bust stronger" was infectious.

According to Bednarz, almost all the leaders he researched experienced a prolonged period of adversity, disappointment, discouragement and failure early in their careers. But their self-confidence enabled them to prevail during those difficult times, which ultimately defined their character, shaped their vision and values, refined their critical thinking, and established their legitimacy as a leader.

Jack Griffin, author of How to Say It for First-Time Managers: Winning Words and Strategies for Earning Your Team's Confidence (Prentice Hall Press, 2010), writes that self-confidence comes from knowledge: from knowing your job, knowing your facts, knowing the basis for your own decisions and, at least as important, knowing what you don't know.

"Intelligent self- assurance, a key to creating credibility, is built on the bedrock of solid knowledge," Griffin writes. "There is no substitute."

Self-assurance also helps managers listen and learn from critics instead of shouting them down, and invite criticism by making clear they are open to all points of view, Griffin says. This is vital to earning trust.

The takeaway message for government managers: If you want to motivate your team to perform better, then it first might be worth spending a moment to make sure you believe in yourself.

Elizabeth Newell covered management, human resources and contracting at Government Executive for three years.

 
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.