"If you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything" is a message most people have heard at least once in their lifetime. This quote emphasizes the importance of having self-confidence to be successful in a career and in life. Self-confidence is one of the 21 emotional competencies that are important to achieve Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize our own feelings and those of others' and to be able to manage those emotions effectively (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). Emotional Intelligence was studied and created by Daniel Goleman, and the framework of Emotional Intelligence (EI) reflects how an individual's potential for mastering the skills of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management translates into on-the-job success (Bar-On, 2001). This model is based on EI competencies that have been identified in internal research at hundreds of corporations and organizations who were distinguishing their outstanding performers from the lessees.
Now compelling research indicates that Emotional Intelligence is twice as important as IQ plus technical skills for outstanding job performance (Edmunds, 2001). EI is a group of learned capabilities that contributes to effective performance of an individual in an organization. Emotional Intelligence has as much to do with knowing when and how to express emotion as it does with controlling it. It is very relevant to executive success and has proven so time and time again in many studies performed on top level executives. Self-confidence falls under the self-awareness category in competencies of Emotional Intelligence, which also includes accurate self-assessment and emotional self-awareness (Hay Group, 2001).
The definition of self-confidence is important to understand, as well as what a high level of self-confidence in a person should look like, whether human resource professionals have this competency, and how self-confidence can be developed in future leaders are all important topics that need addressed in today's business world. By being self confident, a person is able to have clear goals, values, and dreams; they will be realistic and have strong intuitive skills. Feeling confident that one can adequately cope with events, situations, and people puts one in a position to exercise leadership (Edmunds, 2001). This is very important if a person wishes to be a successful leader in today's world.
Self-confidence is defined in Webster's Dictionary as "a freedom from doubt; belief in yourself and your abilities." Dictionary. com defines it as "a feeling of emotional security resulting from faith in oneself; a firm belief in one's powers, abilities, or capacities." It is a central issue of personal growth, which in turn is an issue for the growth of a company. By achieving self-confidence, one can reach their career goals more effectively because they believe in themselves and their abilities to accomplish anything. Without this belief, a pessimistic attitude can cause a person to fail, and keep following this vicious cycle over and over again. Self-confidence is a state of mind, developed and perfected by the most successful people in the world. Every successful person, from Bill Gates to Ted Turner, will say they only accomplished their goals because they believed in themselves.
Self -confident people are not always the most successful, but they do not focus on their failures and mistakes, which helps them create the self-confidence that propels them to greater success (Edmunds, 2001). An associate that lacks self-confidence and shoulders the blame for failures gets stressed more easily when they receive greater job responsibilities. Research showed that associates who had more self-confidence suffered from the least amount of stress, even in demanding jobs in which they controlled working conditions and supervised others. They had higher levels of antibodies in their saliva and fewer respiratory symptoms, so they were prone to get ill more often (Bar-On, 2001).
This demonstrates that self-confidence not only affects performance, but it affects health as well. Self-confidence is an important emotional competency and must be achieved by an individual in order to develop into a successful leader. An associate who demonstrates high self-confidence always believes they are the best for the job. They walk with their shoulders back and their heads held high. A self-confident leader is good at conveying their ideas and opinions, and they would not be fearful of speaking up about them.
They are the associate that really stands out in a group, the one with a strong presence at meetings (Kouzes & Posner, 2002). A self-confident associate makes others around them feel more confident. Their optimistic attitude will be contagious to others, and will help to foster a strong team environment. They are not afraid to speak in front of others and give presentations.
They are effective communicators who are social with everyone and feel comfortable in any situation (Hay Group, 2001). A self-confident person will naturally be a leader. They are not afraid of confrontation with others, and are successful at keeping their subordinates motivated. They are able to face their fears, forget their failures and learn from mistakes. Self-confident leaders know what they want and will ask for it. They also will reward themselves when they succeed, and they will be proud of themselves and believe they can accomplish more.
Someone who has a strong sense of self-confidence will always stand out in the crowd. In the field of Human Resources, associates need to exude many of the 21 emotional competencies to perform as a strong leader. Self-confidence is one of them, but Human Resource professionals could be struggling in this area. Studies show that top organizational leaders rarely have human resource expertise as part of their functional background. Only 2% of the CEOs in the study were reported as having human resources are their primary focus, as compared to 31% in operations and 26% in finance (Walker & Reif, 1999).
This demonstrates that human resource leaders could be lacking in self-confidence since they do not seem to be the professionals that are moving on to powerful positions within a company. HR leaders typically do not believe in themselves and their abilities to be cross-functional outside of the human resources field and be able to progress upward and outward in a company. Human resource leaders tend to be functionally dedicated and have little desire for a career outside of HR. This again could be due to a lack of self-confidence and a belief in themselves that they can move on to other things outside of their comfort zone. Human resource leaders also have a problem approaching human resource work from a business perspective, rather than the business from a human resource perspective (Boyatzis & Burruss, 1995). Again, this could be due to low self-confidence in their abilities to understand the business and be effective in this way.
HR professionals need to become better equipped to fulfill a more broadly defined leadership role as an active contributor to the management team. They also typically do not have full capabilities in developing a human resource strategy and implementing change within their organizations, which might be attributed to self-confidence issues. In a study, human resource leaders as well as the managers they work with were asked to rate the human resource leaders in several categories. The human resource leaders tended to rate themselves lower in most categories than the managers rated them (Walker & Reif, 1999). This demonstrates a lack of self -confidence in their abilities and show they are unsure of themselves. On the contrary, human resource leaders do have some qualities that prove self-confidence is a competency that most of them do hold to some extent.
They are able to adapt quickly, be flexible in their surroundings, and make effective decisions. Others in a company believe that they can count on their human resource leaders to get things completed in a timely manner and achieve good results. This shows that they do have self-confidence when it comes to performing the tasks that are within their skill set and knowledge. Human resource leaders prove to be self-confident in their dealings with people as well. They tend to be comfortable with this aspect of the job since they have had most of their training in this area; therefore they are confident in their dealings with others (Boyatzis & Burruss, 1995). For the most part, human resource leaders demonstrate high self-confidence when they are dealing with tasks within the realm of their area.
It is when they try to reach out across the rest of the business and incorporate other skills and knowledge into their dealings that their self-confidence decreases and affects their leadership abilities. Self-confidence is not necessarily an innate quality. People are not born with self-confidence. They were molded and shaped to have confidence in themselves from their family and surroundings all throughout their lives.
People who grew up in an environment of criticisms and negative thinking will have a tendency to lack self-confidence in the business world. They could have all the knowledge and skills to get the job done, but not the belief in themselves that they can do it (Kouzes & Posner, 2001). Self-confidence can be taught and learned at any age. Studies have shown and proved many times that people can change their behavior, moods, and self-image, which demonstrates that self-confidence can be taught and learned (Bar-On, 2001). Companies that provide development in this area will have a more confident workforce that takes initiative and strives to reach goals.
A company who shows they believe in their people will grow people who believe in themselves. There are several ways a company can help its employees learn to gain more self confidence. First would be to assign mentors to new or inexperienced employees who might need a confidence boost, or to every employee who has the potential to be a future leader. The mentor can help an employee objectively analyze their abilities by pointing out their strengths and training them on their weaknesses (Kouzes & Posner, 2001).
It should be someone who is of a higher status in the company than the mentee, and someone that they look up to as successful. A company can have an established mentoring program where mentors are required to meet with their mentee and provide documented feedback to them and their supervisor, or they can provide training and information on the importance of finding a mentor, and leave it up to the employee to do the searching. Another training item a company can implement to help associates increase their self-confidence would be to offer seminars to all employees and future leaders, whether on-site or at a university. An outside consultant or motivational speaker can be invited to give classes to the employees that need a self-confidence boost. There are many different programs available that are designed to teach self-confidence, and can be found on the internet and at some universities.
An example would be the self-directed learning process, which is "the discovery of who a person wants to be." It emerges from a person's ego ideal, dreams, and aspirations, and can be trained in just a few courses (Kolb, 1990). A company can also develop self-confidence in employees by requiring them to fill out a daily journal of their feelings and reflections. Journals are a way to get thoughts down on paper and really focus on where strengths and weaknesses are, and what it is they can do to improve. Some example topics for a daily journal entry would be, "write down the three things you accomplished today.
Write down the three things you will accomplish tomorrow." This will force employees to reflect on their accomplishments and realize that they can set realistic goals and reach them, which in turn will increase their self-confidence (Kouzes & Posner, 2001). Goal-setting is another good technique to help increase an associate's confidence. Having something to aim at is motivating and it keeps associates focusing on what they must do to succeed, as opposed to on their potential failures. This will allow them to keep their mind off of their perceived faults and focus on the work at hand. Achieving goals is satisfying and rewarding, therefore it builds self-confidence. Supervisors should require their subordinates to make weekly and monthly goals and turn them in on a scheduled basis.
They should review the goals with the associate and discuss how they plan on reaching the goals. This will give associates an objective to work towards, and every time they reach or exceed their goals, their self-confidence increases because they know that have the potential to perform (Kolb, 1990). Another way a company can develop higher self-confidence in their leaders is to cross-train them in different areas. Giving employees experience and knowledge in other areas of the company will likely create a more positive attitude.
A company can invite associates and future leaders to be a part of team decision making panels involving associates from other departments. A company can train associates on other functions within their area of expertise or department, and also train them on functions outside of their expertise. They will begin to gain more confidence in their abilities and feel more worthy to the company because of their cross-functional skills. They will feel that the company feels they are worthy of this extra training and attention as well, so they feel that they must be somewhat successful at their jobs. Performance reviews and 360 degree feedback can also be used as a tool to increase self-confidence.
By giving associates feedback on their performance and ideas on how to improve, they will feel a sense of self-confidence since someone is paying attention to them and their development within the company. This technique is relatively inexpensive and should be part of normal management routine. And of course, just simply giving small rewards and compliments for a job well done will give an associate a quick boost of confidence, and over time, increase their self-confidence on a permanent basis. In conclusion, self-confidence is an important emotional competency for all leaders to incorporate into themselves in order to be more successful and to achieve Emotional Intelligence. Learning and mastering all of the Emotional Intelligence competencies would prove beneficial for anyone in the business world. But without self-confidence, some of the other competencies, like initiative and inspirational leadership, may not be able to fully develop in associates.
So self-confidence may be the key to achieving full Emotional Intelligence. Someone who lacks self-confidence will not have enough drive toward making changes because they are comfortable with their surroundings. The idea of embracing new opportunities that offer change become somewhat fearful issues, thus reflecting the fact that associates who lack self-confidence are scared to make a leap to an unknown environment (Edmunds, 2001). If associates are afraid to make changes and take leaps, a company will not be able to improve or grow. Human resource leaders are an example of associates that may be lacking in self-confidence and need some development in this area in order to become stronger and more effective human resource leaders.
Companies will be more successful in the long run if they develop their people and create a positive work environment that breeds self-confidence. By investing in self-confidence development in their associates, they are investing in the future of the company. References R. Bar-On, "Emotional intelligence and self-actualization", Emotional intelligence in everyday life: A scientific inquiry. 2001.
New York: Psychology Press. R. Boyatzis and J. Burruss, "The Heart of Human Resource Development: Counseling Competencies." The Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations, July 4 th, 1995. G. Edmunds, "Confident in your Business and Yourself", USA Today.
com, 5/30/01. Hay Group, The Emotional Competence Inventory - University Edition, 2001. Kolb, D. A." Goal-setting and self-directed behavior change", Human Relations, 1990, Vol. 23, No. 5, pp.
439-457. J. Kouzes and B. Posner, The Leadership Challenge, Jossey-bass, 2002 (Third Edition).
J. W. Walker and W. E. Reif, "Human Resource Leaders: Capability Strengths and Gaps", Human Resource Planning, 1999, Vol. 22, No.
4, pp. 21-32.