January 31, 2014
How does a leader address self-doubt? It arises is all types of situations but particularly in those in which he or she feels inexperienced with a topic or subject matter. -- Anonymous
Self-doubt is not an uncommon feeling when making decisions. Many leaders face such concerns; even experienced ones often don’t always know if they are making the right decision. Such doubt can intensify when making decisions in unfamiliar territory. But what can you do to address it?
First, let’s ask whether it is bad or wrong to suffer from self-doubt. Does it indicate that you are an inferior or bad leader? Are you worried about being a fraud who will soon be found out when people learn that your decision was a bad one?
Occasional self-doubt is an important indicator of a successful and reflective leader. It is all too easy for leaders to be seduced by the power of their position and the deference that comes with it. This seduction can lead to biased and overconfident beliefs that the boss is always right. Reflective self-doubt is a positive indicator that your knowledge and expertise has limits, which is most useful when confronting new challenges.
That said, self-doubt is problematic if it invades every challenge -- big or small --and keeps you from making decisions. If this insecurity affects even decisions that easily fall within your expertise and experience then it may signal some other psychological issue.
An often difficult decision, for example, is to fire a poorly performing employee who also is toxic to the team. If the leader hasn’t been involved in firing employees before, then self-doubt naturally arises: “Am I making the right call for the organization? Am I being too harsh? What responsibility do I have for the welfare of the individual, especially when I hired the person?” If the leader has experience with similar situations and has seen what happens to a team when a toxic worker is not let go, then self-doubt should be diminished or even absent from the decision. If the leader with relevant experience lacks the confidence to make the “right” decision, allowing the team to suffer for years, then he likely should seek counseling for a deeper problem.
What can you do to address self-doubt that arises when dealing with decisions for which you don’t have much experience and knowledge? Here are two strategies that can help leaders think more clearly and thoroughly:
Addressing self-doubt requires courage, in part because many people are afraid to admit to it. In fact, some people believe that even the hint of such a disclosure shows weakness. On the contrary, taking these steps shows strength of character and self-esteem. Engaging others demonstrates to your team that you think before you act, you want to learn from others to expand your expertise, and that you want to get decisions “right.” Aren’t these leadership qualities to which we all want to aspire?
Duce a mente
(May you lead by thinking)
January 31, 2014