Recently I was in Ireland for a family vacation and had the fortunate pleasure to watch the Ireland versus Italy European Football Championship game. I don’t know much about soccer but being married to an Irishman I have definitely seen my fair share of games. This game was worth the watch as it provided one of those exciting endings that you hope for over the long 90+ minutes of viewing time. Ireland entered the match needing to win in order to advance to the knockout stage. After about 85 minutes of a 0-0 game, the Ireland team scored a goal! It was the way the goal was scored that has quickly become the stuff of Irish legend. Robbie Brady, Ireland’s star player, set up the goal after crossing the midfield line, kicking the ball to another Irish player, Aiden McGready, who then passes to Wes Hoolahan. Brady was, all the while, running with lightning speed toward the goal. Here lies the remarkable part. Brady ran full speed toward the goal all while not taking his eyes off the ball. I later found out by watching post-game commentary that this is something only a confident, seasoned, and brave player would do. Running into goal territory at full speed without looking is not for the weak hearted. This is the area where most opponents including the goalie are running to block and where many injuries take place. But Brady knew that in order to complete his team’s strategy and get the ball in the goal, he would have to keep his eye on Hoolahan so that, at just the perfect time, he’d be able to head the ball into the goal. It was a perfectly executed strategy but it took a confident leader to do the job.
I could go on about endurance (these games are long and the energy needed to persevere is not for the faint at heart), resilience (Ireland had to overcome a rather unfair missed foul call earlier in the game by a less experienced referee), and team unity (mistakes and missed goals are often made but the team reassessed and moved forward without quarrel). This game reminded me of many important factors teams need to master in order to get across the goal line but mainly I was reminded about how essential a confident leader is to the success of any team.
All too often, I talk to owners of companies or leaders of organizations who seem to shy away from leading with confidence. They fear how they may be seen by their employees – too arrogant or corporate. They also harbor inner fears about their ability to actually lead and lead well. But confident leaders are necessary and so often longed for by teams and organizations. It is reassuring to teams giving them more faith in the company’s vision. Confidence is the foundation of leadership. It benefits the leader as they are able communicate with more authority and can create greater passion and drive within the team to make the goal.
How can you grow your confidence as a leader?
1) Keep your eye on the ball – you need a mission and vision. Having a defined mission gives a leader focus. When it is a mission that they are passionate about and believe in their confidence goes from solely on themselves and shifts to the mission itself.
2) Head toward the goal – you need a strategy. Having an outlined strategy gives the leader a path to the goal adding confidence because there is no guesswork.
3) Work as a team – you need everyone onboard & headed in the same direction. Defining mission and outlining a strategy that is shared with everyone means the whole team is unified. Everyone becomes an essential part of the process and can take ownership of the goals before them.
4) Own your confidence– you need someone brave enough to lead the charge. People gravitate toward confident leaders but they stick around when they realize that confidence is rooted in something real. People want to be part of a mission they can believe in, a strategy they can contribute to, and a unified team that has their eye on the ball.
So lead with confidence, running fast toward the goal line. You’ll quickly find that the rewards are great and you’ll soon be creating your own legends.
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About the Author
Traci Barrett is a the Founder & President of Navigate the Journey, a firm that specializes in helping the owners of entrepreneurial companies improve at the company, team and individual leader levels.