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Conscious Confidence: Three Steps to Taking the Lead

Many of you will know the phrase “conscious competence” that is used to describe a state of expertise where one has an awareness and clear understanding of the application of competence in a particular skill or technique.  It is part of the unconscious incompetence – conscious incompetence – conscious competence – unconscious competence sequence.

I would like to introduce you to the phrase – Conscious Confidence – that I use to describe a behaviour, or set of behaviours, that many good leaders and managers have, and to which we might all aspire.  It’s that state where you are ‘in-flow’, in the zone, on your game, and where you feel totally in control.  It is allied to both conscious and unconscious competence but it avoids unfounded, unaware arrogance through your grounded, confident approach.  Some have labelled this as a fifth stage of the continuum – the consciousness of unconscious competence.

I’m sure you have seen people who have that air of confidence.  They don’t actually say the following, but they give  off an aura of “follow me”, “it will be OK”, “I’ve been here before”, “I know what I am doing”, because of the purposeful and confident way that they go about their business. 

This is not false confidence or bravado.  People can see through that in a second.  They are calm and in control.  There is no doubt.  They know their business and you know they will succeed.  You are drawn to their prospect of success.  They are in total control of the situation and their antennae are up, and operating. 

So how do you achieve Conscious Confidence?  First, you need to be very aware of your strengths, those areas where you are very good, maybe better than most people you know.  We all have those strengths but we tend to pay more attention to our weaknesses.  This requires regular and honest reflection.

Second, the time and energy that we devote to shoring up our weak spots might better be spent on bringing our strengths to the fore.  That’s not to say that we should ignore the areas that require attention.  But let’s have more balance.  Let’s take those strengths out for a run more often and let people see those areas of Conscious Confidence.  Further, we need to practise our strengths regularly.  How often do we do that in business?  How often do we practise, with intention and purpose, at getting better at our technical and interpersonal skills?

And third, look for opportunities to display that Conscious Confidence.  Steve Jobs used to think of himself as the most brilliant person in the room.  He didn’t get it right all the time, but when he was on the money he took people with him and they achieved outstanding results.  Opportunities are all around us – if we look out for them.

If you would like to join the CED tribe, you can sign up here for the CED newsletter where I will be discussing topics similar to this one in a little more depth.

All the best

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