Thursday, May 7, 2009

Conveying confidence during trying times

I recently listened to an author talk about the importance of trust. While the context of the discussion was directed towards helping oneself, I immediately thought about leaders in non-profit organizations and how they help their employees and volunteers through times of change and uncertainty.

When people venture into unknown territories, they are often filled with trepidation. Fear subsides when they realize they're not the first ones to go into the unknown, and confidence builds when they discover there is a path to follow.

Leaders create the roadmap and act as the guide.

We may venture into the unknown with a coach, a friend, a mentor, or, perhaps we have only ourselves to rely upon. In any case, what we tell ourselves, and the actions we take, determines how we handle change and uncertainty. You, as a leader, set the example for others to follow.

For instance, think about how you might respond when facing a very challenging situation. Typically, heartbeat quickens while breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. So, even though blood pumps through your veins, you are starving your brain. You may even display a deer-in-the-headlights look. Not a great combination for making good decisions, taking effective action or instilling confidence.

When facing a new situation it’s vital to slow down for a moment, take some deep “yoga breaths” in which you feel your diaphragm go up and down. Only then can you begin to explore options because you are ensuring your brain receives enough oxygen to think clearly. Reflect on what was similar in previous challenges and how you overcame obstacles. Explore options and trust your decision to take committed actions (i.e. create the roadmap). You’ll find that when you convey confidence, others trust that you (as their leader) are ahead of them guiding the way.

Sylva Leduc,
The Leadership Strategist

Author, Roadmap to Success

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