What does confidence mean to you?

When you think of confidence, what comes to mind?  What do you think of?  What do you see in your mind’s eye? How do you relate to confidence for yourself?


How important is confidence to you, in your life overall, and in your work? How consistent is your confidence? Does it change over time – in the longer term or from day to day  or from situation to situation?  What difference does having confidence or not having confidence make for you?

 confidence-abstr-balloon


The Oxford English Dictionary defines confidence as

  • the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something;
  • the state of feeling certain about the truth of something;
  • a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities; and also
  • the telling of private matters or secrets with mutual trust.

The word confidence comes from the latin word confidentia, from confidere  which means to ‘have full trust’.


When we talk about having confidence or being confident, we are usually thinking of the third ‘feeling’ meaning – self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.  Self-confidence is an attitude which allows individuals to have positive yet realistic views of themselves and their situations.


Our sense of confidence imbues us with the personal power to be all we can be – to do more, to do it better, to have a go at something new, to achieve our dreams and more.  Confidence is the foundation for our success – in whatever way success is meaningful to us.


Confidence makes the difference in life, as it gives us the means to be who we really want to be, to express ourselves with ease, to be comfortable with people and in ourselves, to stretch out of our comfort zone, to know that we CAN do what we want to do and to take the first step towards making it happen.  Luckily everyone can learn confidence, though it is not just a skill you can learn by applying a set of rules.  Confidence is an attitude or state of mind that sits at the very core of our being and transforms our life in a positive way. Confidence is the outcome of a whole lot of things including our experiences (and the way we think about them), personality, emotional well-being, self-awareness, and our thinking style which can include how we make decisions and solve problems or find solutions.  Learning confidence is a journey about changing your state of mind by raising your awareness and changing the way you think, the way you see things and interact with the world. 

confidence lights way


In my view,

Learning confidence leaves behind the “I can’ts” and opens the doors to your brave new world full of “I cans” and possibilities, where you SEE and seize the opportunities that come your way.


Learning confidence dares you to listen to your heart and tap into your motivation and ambition and only then let your rational brain work on how to achieve that.  Confidence opens the way for ‘I will’, ‘I want to’ and ‘I like to’ and leaves behind the ‘shoulds’, ‘musts’ and ‘have tos’.  Confidence lets you stop giving priority to your brain ‘rationally’ talking you out of what you want, to settle for an alternative option only because it is safer or expected of you or … the list can be endless and not always true!  Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not talking about absconding from responsibility or taking on a self-centred hedonistic life style where all you think about is you and what you want.  I’m talking about changing the way you think about your responsibilities so you want to do them and feel positive about them, rather than just complying and feeling you should do them but don’t really want to.  Maybe that also involves learning the confidence to say no in a positive way.  I’m talking about knowing yourself, assessing your strengths, your personal values and purpose and what you want from life and making sure you follow the road to make that happen by ensuring the things you do are in harmony with who you really are.  Assess whether you are in the right job for you – does it or could it ever give you fulfilment?  What do you need for fulfilment?  What do you give and get from your relationships?


Learning confidence gives you personal power to be yourself and let your own light shine.

Hello confident you!


If you let your own light shine it gives others permission to do the same” Nelson Mandela


If you would like to talk to me about coaching around being more confident, please do get in touch.  You can also check out our online confidence coaching programmes on www.aeonacoaching.com or see the Aeona webpage for more information about what I do: www.aeona.co.uk

Sue Mitchell    email: info@aeonacoaching.com  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Be accessible, listen well and be consistent! 8 simple management rules from Google

The New York Times published a fascinating article about research at Google on what makes effective managers. Although it was published a few years ago, it is still useful today.

Google noticed that their best managers “have teams that perform better, are retained better, are happier — they do everything better” says Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for ‘people operations’ (HR).  It was down to the quality of the manager and how they made things happen.  Google collected masses of data to answer questions about “What if every manager was that good? What makes them that good? And how do you do it?”

Google’s data showed that managers had a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor.  Poor managers are the biggest variable causing people to leave the company (the other two reasons people leave are i) are lack of feeling their work matters or a connection to the company’s mission and ii) not liking or respecting their colleagues).

Google used to think it was vital that managers had deep technical expertise and be more expert than their team members.  Their management philosophy was to ‘leave the engineers to get on with their stuff and they will ask when they need help’.

BUT their in-depth data analysis showed that people valued managers MOST when they made time for them, listened and were consistent.  Employees valued most their even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped them puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in their lives and careers.  They found that technical expertise is important but ranked last among Google’s eight key factors of great managers.

Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers

  1. Be a good coach
  2. Empower your team
  3. Express interest in team members personally and in their success.
  4. Be productive and results oriented
  5. Communicate well and LISTEN WELL
  6. Help your employees with career development
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team – but you don’t need to be as expert or more expert than the experts in your team!

Three pitfalls of managers

  1. Have trouble making the transition to team / leader (from being an expert / individual contributor).
  2. Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development
  3. Spend too little time managing and communicating.

Google makes the facts known to their managers, so they know what works and doesn’t work. They don’t tell the managers what to do, managers decide for themselves.   Google’s data for how to be a great manager in their company echo’s other research about what makes managers effective in other companies. These 8 rules are simple and probably applicable in most companies.

8 rules

If you can make yourself accessible, listen well and be consistent, and apply these 8 rules in the priority listed above, what difference will that make to your own and your team’s performance?

If you would like to talk to me about coaching around being a more effective manager, please do get in touch.  You can also check out the Aeona webpage for more information about what I do: www.aeona.co.uk

Sue Mitchell    email: coaching@aeona.co.uk  telephone +44 1875 830708  or  use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.

Leadership makes a difference

Abundant evidence shows that great leadership makes a difference both personally and to the organisation’s success and results in higher performance, productivity and profitability.  Great leadership also leads to higher performance in the triple bottom line – organisational health, people’s engagement in the workplace, how much they commit to doing the best they can, having a positive culture at work, long term sustainability for the organisation and the sense of responsibility to the community and environment.  It’s not just about work and making money, but also making the world a better place while you are doing it.

 

I believe everyone is capable of being a leader and my purpose is to liberate the leader within each one of us.  Leadership can be learnt and it is about mindset, behaviours and emotional intelligence.  I am currently part of the team delivering a massive leadership development programme for a global company that’s based in UK.  They are investing millions to secure their future sustainability and success through improving leadership at all levels throughout the company.  I want to make leadership development more accessible for smaller businesses and organisations because I believe it will make a real difference.  I’m offering discounted leadership programmes for women leaders and aspiring leaders in Scotland and for people in Midlothian and Edinburgh as many small businesses find it difficult to justify the spend.  These programmes are  eligible for FTO grant funding.  Also, I think many business owners don’t see how leadership would be relevant to them.  I often hear “well, I can see why it’s relevant in larger organisations but I just have a few people, we don’t need it…”  I wonder how much this is due to not really appreciating the difference good leadership makes in groups of all types and sizes – whether it is a family, a business, a volunteer group or a multi-national organisation.

AeonaLeader

Aeona’s summary combining concepts of authentic and centered leadership

I often encounter situations that resonate with my first experience of leadership.  No-one ever thought to mention to me that leadership is something you can learn, that it even exists as a subject.  I got a job leading an expedition to the South Pacific and my focus was entirely on the tasks required to deliver results and make it happen – logistics, planning, developing connections with relevant local people, designing the study projects, budgeting, raising sponsorship, etc.  I ran a team building event, where we all met each other for the first time and it went down very well.  If I ever thought about it, I assumed everyone was motivated for the same reasons I was and that what worked well for me would work well for them.  How wrong I was!  I’ve subsequently learnt that everyone brings their own perspective, own desires, own motivations, own personality and own ways of doing things to the table, and when you can recognise, understand, empathise and engage with all of that diversity, and connect their own meanings with the organisation’s purpose, then everyone will achieve tasks so much better, drive performance and have fun too.

 

Leadership happens in our relationships with people and differs according to the different contexts and situations we find ourselves in.  Yet how often are managers and other people in leadership positions focusing primarily on the tasks involved?  How often do people end up in leadership positions or running small businesses because of their expertise and knowledge, but don’t get any training in leading  and inspiring other people to do the work?  How many people have created processes and ways of working for the team, company or business because that’s the way that worked successfully for them in the past?  How much of your people’s skills, creativity, knowledge and capability remains untapped because you don’t know about it?  How often do you take time to discover what motivates your people and tie this in with their work?  How much more could your people be engaged at work and what difference could that make to your organisation’s performance?

 

If you can

  • be authentic, be yourself, be confident and live by your values,
  • create an inspiring purpose and meaning for the work in the organisation,
  • inspire your people so they know how they make a difference to the company success,
  • give them autonomy and encourage their desire to do their job to the best of their ability and maintain high standards,

what difference would that make to how it feels to come in to work and to your company’s future?

What difference would that make to your own future?

 

 

Please do get in touch if you’d like to talk about it.  🙂

 

 

Please contact me if you’d like me to send you some of the evidence for leadership making a difference or about the FTO grants for training in Scotland. email info@aeona.co.uk

 

For the specially discounted leadership programmes please see these links:

Women Leaders Special:    http://aeona.co.uk/aeonaILMwomen.htm

Midlothian and Edinburgh Leaders Special:  http://aeona.co.uk/aeonaILMmidlothian.htm

 

 

 

LEADERSHIP

What is leadership? If you Google the definition of leadership you will come up with millions of hits, varying from slightly to very different. There are hundreds of different models about leadership. Yet each of us is likely to feel we can recognise good or bad leadership when we see it. Part of the problem is that leadership has so many different aspects – it is multi dimensional and trying to explain leadership in only one to three dimensions (which is about as much as most of us can handle easily) is like trying to define a multi-coloured pompom (one of those woollen balls you often find on a wool hat) by only one or two strands of wool.

In essence, if you influence or inspire others, develop others, give others a direction or purpose, you are a leader. The way leadership looks and feels is context dependent – no one style suits all. The way I describe leadership is that at its core, it is about a relationship between a leader or leaders and followers, who are inspired around a common purpose. The nature of that relationship and leadership style is shaped by the context in which it happens, which I regard as having two layers: an out layer representing wider contexts that are not likely to be under your direct control; and an inner layer representing contexts you can directly influence in yourself and in your relationships, whether you are a leader or follower. The outer context layer could include things like the economy, technology, faith, culture – such as political or in society, or in your organisation or community group or family, and so on. The inner layer is influenced by the outer layer and could include things like the group’s attitudes, values, ethics, motivation, sense of purpose and level of trust in the relationship between leader and followers.

An effective leader is effective in context and their style needs to suit the context, particularly the wider context although their style can also influence the context within the local group. For example, Churchill was an excellent leader to keep morale high and a strong sense of purpose during the second world war, but his style didn’t suit a post-war Britain with different needs, a different purpose and different direction. We are also familiar with organisations where the culture and way of working reflect the leadership style of the CEO and perhaps other senior influencers or leaders.

I think of leadership involving two parts: “being”, which includes Emotional Intelligence, personality, interpersonal skills, responsibility and your personal beliefs, values, attitudes, ethics, motivation, purpose etc; and “doing”, which is more likely to depend on the context in which you are leading, including things like organisational functions, creating strategy, vision, building team relationships, putting your activities in wider context, delivering goals etc. This “being” and “doing” applies equally to the followers, although the followers’ “doing” activities are complementary to those of the leaders. Followership is as equally important as leadership. 

There is a tight interplay between leader and follower – in many ways each is defined by the other. A title or job role does not make someone a leader. The followers who are inspired by the purpose and / or believe in the person make that person the leader. In a work context, this is why good leadership makes such a difference to performance (said to be about 30% difference to the bottom line) because leaders inspire their team and workers to be engaged and give their discretionary effort.

Leadership is not just for a few people in high level positions at work, we need leadership all around us at all levels in our communities – whether they are social, sport or work. Even if you are running a micro business with no staff, you still need to lead yourself to motivate and inspire yourself to make things happen, and to influence your clients and customers. As an owner of a business you need to be both leader and follower – leading when you work “on” the business, setting the direction and strategy, and being follower when you step into the daily working “in” the business.

The ability to step in and out of leader and follower roles, and knowing when each role is more appropriate, can be pivotal to the success of both the group and yourself as an individual. An example could be in a dynamic team, where the team leader is prepared to let a team member take the lead and constructively support them in doing so, perhaps recognising specific expertise or knowledge, or perhaps as part of their policy to raise others to take on leadership. I am reminded of a time when I was diving with a university club, and one of the top diving instructors in the UK was with us. He had the patience to allow one of the students be in charge of the days diving, letting her make decisions about where to go and how to do it, intervening by gently asking focused questions in a constructive way when the outcomes could have potentially life-threatening consequences (like being underwater when the current was too strong for safe diving) but allowing her to make and learn from more minor mistakes.

In my opinion, a major component of success in leadership is an openness to learn and forgive (both yourself and others) and to regard mistakes as learning opportunities rather than failure – beautifully described by David Watt as:
” I learned so much from my mistakes I plan to make some more ”

One of the most important leadership roles (for both men and women) is parenthood and the way we lead ourselves and our family, and influence their development, core values, attitudes and beliefs. Children give unconditional followership to their parents during early childhood and go through several critical development periods, particularly up to the age of 7. I personally believe that this contributes to the controversy in the debate over whether leaders are born or made. There is so much evidence that leadership can be learnt and “born leaders” are most likely leaders who learned leadership from age 0.

For example, compare these two scenarios that reflect different ways a parent might interact with their child, both parents having the positive intention to protect their child. It is a snowy winter and Bob and Joe, who are four, say they want to go out and play.

Parent A says “Remember to put on your coat, don’t get cold.” Bob follows orders; and grows up with others making decisions and choices for him to protect him.

Parent B says “ok, go out and play”. Joe runs outside, and soon afterwards comes back in “Its cold.” Parent B asks “What do you want to do about that?” Joe says “Put a coat on” “Ok, that sounds like a good idea” and Joe puts on a coat and goes out to play, warm. The difference is that Joe learns throughout childhood about the consequences of his actions in situations that are not life-threatening (eg: its cold if you forget your coat) and making choices – he is learning how to decide for himself and protect himself. When these two children grow up to be teenagers, who is more likely to be able to make good choices about things they are exposed to, like drugs, peer pressure, and so on? Which approach do you think is more effective in managers and leaders?

Unless we learn otherwise at some stage in our life, our default leadership style typically reflects the way our parents behaved with us. Yet, as good leadership is so context dependent and no one style suits all situations, the best leaders match their style to the situation. Learning good leadership starts with raising self awareness to recognise your own style, the way you behave and interact with others, and your own attitudes, beliefs and values that shape the way you behave and think. When these are raised from the unconscious level, where they strongly influence all the decisions you make without your being aware of it, you can consciously choose how to be and behave in different situations. The next stage is to learn how different styles can influence situations in different ways… and I think that is a lifetime’s journey.