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How to Respond When Your Boss Says: Be More Confident

Beth Comstock
December 01, 2014


Shared by Leesa Eichberger: An authentic and inspiring LinkedIn article from our recent Hall of Fame inductee, Beth Comstock.

I’ve always found it hard to put myself out there. I’m not sure if it’s due to my reserved nature, a quest for perfection, cultural and gender expectations or some combination of them all.

But I’ve come to firmly believe, as Katty Kay and Claire Shipman write in their book “The Confidence Code,” that confidence is as important as competence. “Having talent isn’t merely about being competent; confidence is a part of that talent,” they write. “You have to have it to excel.”

Confidence is a Competence

As with competence, confidence can grow. Mine grew from my dissatisfaction with who I was at the beginning of my career. Too often, I found myself sitting speechless in important meetings, knowing deep inside I had a valuable contribution. I could have engaged key people who had a lot to teach me but I remained quiet, assuming that they wouldn’t want to hear from me.

The unwillingness to speak up almost cost me dearly. I waited to apply for a job at NBC because I was convinced the executives making the hiring decisions doubted I could do it. With the job still empty after six months (half a year!), I finally mustered the confidence to march into the HR leader’s office and ask why I hadn’t been considered. “We didn’t know you were interested,” he said. What a near miss! That turned out to be one of the most formative jobs of my career.

Still, I kept myself in check. Even a decade ago, my boss, Jeff Immelt, said to me. “I need you to be more confident.” I’d hesitated one time too many. He expected me to put it on the line, with conviction. I remember thinking, “He has found me out.” I hadn’t spoken up for fear of not being right. That had to change!

So how did I find my way to Confidence Road?

First, I had to get out of my own way. I got tired of beating myself up for not speaking up when often I had a good idea or not pushing my way in when I had something to contribute. Each small step forward, each small victory became a microdeposit in the confidence bank.

But mostly, what I lacked in confidence, I made up in curiosity. To combat my discomfort, I’ve learned to use curiosity as my guide. It’s the camouflage that covers the insecurity of not knowing. The panic of not being perfect. Wanting to know why puts me in the game.

I also learned to trust my internal signals — some faint, some deafening. These signals pushed me toward the things I may not have been prepared to do and maybe didn’t want to do but needed to be done anyway. It starts with investing in myself and asking, “If not me, then who?”

Original Source:  How to Respond When Your Boss Says: ‘Be More Confident’ 

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