We all have to start somewhere; we don’t just come out of college or our leadership training fully baked as the best executive there ever was. Many of us remember the struggles we went through when we first started out, and while we don’t want to overrule the “trial by fire” process many of us know so well, there are a few things most of us wish we didn’t have to learn on our own.
If you’re new to the executive world, take these two areas into account when establishing yourself as a leader in any business. With a little help, maybe you’ll have a shorter learning curve than the rest of us.
Confidence vs. Overconfidence
Leaders can be born, or they can be made, but they can also become less effective leaders when they let “power” go to their head. If you are just starting out, especially as newly promoted or a new hire, you might experience a little ego boost at your new title. That’s to be expected, but it can’t affect how you operate as an executive.
To know the difference between confidence and overconfidence, consider these contrasts:
- Faith in your abilities vs. blind faith in your knowledge
- Ability to make decisions vs. making decisions without taking into account outcomes
- Working with a team vs. working around your team
- Listening to questions vs. assuming everything is a criticism
- Adapting your course of action vs. staying the course no matter what
Even the most seasoned of executives can recall a time when they experienced one of the above scenarios — all because they were overconfident in themselves or unwilling to accept change. If you want to make your career as an executive smoother, try to embody the aspects of confidence, rather than the ones of overconfidence.
Listen to the Outliers
How many times as a leader have you taken the majority vote and ran with it? How many times have you considered those who didn’t agree with your ideas or plans as “the minority” and just assumed they should jump onboard? While your job as an executive is to make executive decisions, you’d be surprised how much you can learn from these outliers.
When you’re starting out (or if you’re struggling with outliers in your current position), it’s important to give a voice to those who have differing ideas or opinions from your own. This:
- Helps you become a well-rounded leader who can “think outside the box”
- Positions you as a fair and considerate leader
- Can prevent you from making massive mistakes
- Can impact your future goals or plans for the future
While there will always be employees or peers who don’t agree with you, you have to learn to listen to them regardless. You don’t always have to implement their changes or ideas, but you should always consider and value their contributions.
Shorten the Learning Curve
With a little attention to your confidence levels and your team dynamics you can make your life as an executive so much easier. Nobody said it would be stress-free or 100% straightforward, but it can be much more enjoyable. Whether you’re a brand new graduate or shifting to a new company or project, we all start fresh at some point. Hopefully, these tips can help you start off on the right foot.