I am not really surprised that so many leaders question their own value and contribution to their organization. Over 20 years ago, author Pauline Clance wrote about her interviews with highly successful business leaders in which they reported feeling like frauds in their work (imposter syndrome). Despite all evidence to the contrary, these leaders were sure that sooner or later, they would be discovered as fakes and their gig would be up.
Self-esteem or the belief that we are competent, capable people is something that we can only give to ourselves. It cannot be bestowed by others (despite their best efforts). Everyone experiences bouts of low self esteem and for leaders it can even be a greater challenge as you are constantly being deluged by conflicting information, time pressures and the necessity to make timely decisions that impact the operations of your business and the success of your staff.
Building and maintaing self esteem can be enhanced by remembering to focus on several key activities. Try some of these out and see how they work:
- You are what you think: Pay attention to the self-talk you say to yourself. If your thoughts start getting negative then turn them off and say something positive. The technique is known as “thought-stopping” and there is a satirical video done by TV psychologist Bob Newhart in which he demonstrates this technique .
- Use affirmations: While most of us are quick to give ourselves criticism, we are slow to acknowledge our successes. Give yourself a little bit of the credit you deserve for a job well done and hold that positive thought in your mind. Consider writing down your successful affirmation and posting it in a place where you can see it during the day.
- Avoid negative people: Stay away from Debbie Downer. People who promote negative ideas will help you generate them in yourself and around your organization and after hearing negative thoughts and ideas, they will begin to infect your thinking as well
- Focus on your strengths: There are things that you do better than others and there are things that others do better than you. Avoid the comparisons and instead understand your strengths and how they work best for you. I recommend the book “StrengthFinders 2.0” as an excellent tool for beginning to understand your strengths. In my workshops individuals and teams make amazing discoveries about how to leverage their strengths.
- Be proactive As a leader, your job is to plow the field ahead of your team so that they can do their job more easily. Nothing builds self esteem like winning and focusing on what you can do as a leader to make other’s successful will help them gain and help you feel like a million bucks.
Enjoy the moments when you see your success and savor the victories of your hard work. Each small step will continue to grow your confidence and self esteem