In order to be an effective leader, you must have faith in your abilities and project a level of self-confidence that is high enough to inspire others to follow you. Leaders that are plagued with self-doubt usually come across as indecisive and possibly fearful. These are traits that inspire the exact opposite of enthusiasm and confidence in others.
In order to lead others, you need acceptance, trust, and respect and if you doubt yourself, how can you realistically expect anyone to follow your guidance and trust your judgment?
Taking on a New Role or Challenge? It’s Normal to Feel a Little Anxious
When you are a new leader or making a major change in your existing career, and trying to cope with the pressure of assuming new responsibilities, it’s normal to feel uncertain or anxious. If you’ve recently stepped out of your comfort zone to try something new, you may even be wondering what were you thinking?!
Until you’ve had some experience leading others in your specific role, that feeling that you aren’t quite up to this challenge may continue until you’ve experienced some level of success in your new position.
The trouble is that your anxiety levels and self-doubt threaten to undermine all of your efforts and make success feel impossible, all before you even get started.
The good news is that you don’t have to know everything that there is to know about your role in order to improve your sense of self-worth and self-esteem and inspire more confidence and enthusiasm in others. The solution to conquering your insecurities comes from a seemingly unlikely source – you!
The Mind-Body Connection
Our brains are very powerful and it is possible to harness the power of our minds to influence how we perceive ourselves, as well as how others perceive us. Basically, when we project confidence and self-assurance, others accept our level of confidence at face value.
A study conducted in 2009, Body posture effects on self-evaluation: A self-validation approach, is just one example of a growing body of research that demonstrates the strong connection that exists between our minds, our mindset and mood, and the way that we move and position our bodies.
More recently, Amy Cuddy has spoken about the “power pose” and how we can change the cortisol and testosterone levels in our brains simply by assuming a strong stance. These chemicals flood the brain and boost our feelings of confidence.
Simply by changing your posture and “striking a pose” that is perceived as calm and in control, you will feel more confident and project more confidence. The more confidence you project towards others, the more others trust you and “mirror” that confidence, respect, and acceptance back in the body language they use when they communicate with you. The trust, respect, and acceptance that others show, in turn, will boost your confidence levels, becoming a self-affirming circle of positive reinforcement.
How to Strike a Pose to Increase Your Power and Influence
Feeling anxious and insecure?
Focus on standing upright, spine straight and shoulders slightly relaxed. Raise your chin as well and look up. Holding this pose makes it easier to take I a deep breath of fresh air, which is also good for calming your nerves. Notice how slouching and slumping forward have exactly the opposite effect and literally make you feel down. You can hear more about this power pose in Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk.
When presenting or speaking in general you can calm your anxieties and feel and appear more confident simply by striking a pose that conveys calm strength and confidence. Focus on firmly planting your feet about 2 feet apart and take a deep breath as you straighten your spine to stand tall. Tilt your chin upward, towards the sky or ceiling and look others in the eyes when you speak with them, allowing a relaxed smile to cross your face. You are now radiating confidence, and, the focus of your attention should be mirroring these visual cues back to you.
The next time that you feel overwhelmed stop for a moment to focus on your posture and breathing.
- Are you standing or sitting tall?
- Are you taking slow, deep breaths to help you slow your heart rate and reduce your levels of cortisol and other hormones that increase the feelings of stress and anxiety?
If you aren’t feeling calm, in control and confident in your abilities, it’s likely that you’ve let your posture and pose slip for a bit. Don’t worry, it’s easy to get it back by using a little mindfulness to redirect and refocus your attention!