This is the first part of an extended correspondence course in management. You can dip into it as you go, or you can follow the course, right from the start. If you do that, you may want a course notebook, for the exercises and any notes you want to make.
Self confidence is the starting place for any manager. Your promotion to managerial role has probably been triggered more by your expertise in doing your previous job, your reliability, and your character, than by any specific evidence of your managerial capability. And that’s fine, because it is the way most of your colleagues were promoted too.
But it can leave you feeling a little nervous about your suitability to manage and, when your boss tells you to ‘get on with it – I have every trust in you’ you can feel a little isolated. Your boss leaves you to it, your new management peers don’t yet trust you, and your team are wary of how you will treat them, now you have become a manager.
Here are three exercises to help boost your self-confidence.
Exercise 1: A Reassuring Word
In your notebook, complete the following sentences:
- ‘I earned my managerial role because…
- ‘My three most valuable managerial assets are…
- ‘The managers I learned most from are…
- ‘I will know I am doing a good job as manager when…
- ‘Things will go wrong; that’s life. If they do, the people I can go to are…
Exercise 2: Seeing Success
Imagine it is Monday morning and you are in work, ready to start the day. In a minute, close your eyes and picture yourself there. Picture your first few conversations and meetings going well. Notice yourself handling the situations effectively, feeling well-prepared. As you go through your morning, picture everything you do going as planned. At each stage, notice how good that makes you feel. At the end of your morning, imagine how positive and confident you will feel.
Now, close your eyes and play that movie in your head for several minutes.
When you have done this, make a note in your notebook about how you felt at the end of each part of your morning. Write down what you did to achieve your successes.
This is an exercise to repeat several times over the coming days. Each time you do it, choose another day and either the morning or afternoon. Every time you do it, you will increase your base level of confidence.
Exercise 3: Power Poses
One of the reasons some people feel more confident than others is simply levels of hormones in their bodies. For example, increased testosterone levels increase confidence, whilst increased cortisol levels decrease confidence. Perhaps it is surprising, but your gross posture affects levels of both of these hormones and, whether you are a man or a woman, you can increase testosterone levels and decrease cortisol, by adopting power poses.
You can do these poses for two or three minutes before going into a stressful situation and you can maintain confidence-boosting hormone levels by maintaining upright, open postures during your day.
Stand upright, legs apart – slightly wider than shoulder width – and put your hands on your hips. If there is a table, counter or a solid back of a stable chair available, place your hands firmly on it, about 70-80cm apart (wider than your shoulders) and lean forward. Adopt these poses for two minutes or so.
If you have a chair to sit on, try sitting upright, legs apart, with feeet firmly on the floor. Plant your hands firmly on your upper thighs, with elbows outwards. Lean your body back a little, with head a little forward. Or try putting your feet up on a table, leaning back in your chair, with your hands clasped behing your head, elbows splayed out. Adopt one of these for two minutes.
If these poses remind you of a typical ‘old-school alpha-male boss’, they should. The difference is that you will adopt these poses privately for a few minutes at most, to boost your confidence for the next meeting; rather than maintain it in the meeting to intimidate your colleagues.
For all-of-the-time posture, keep to standing with feet at hip or maybe shoulder width, head upright, as if pulled by a puppet string, and arms by your sides. This open body, coupled with upright posture, will not only make you feel more assertive, but will enhance your breathing, your vocal tone and projection and present your image as confident and authoritative.