EntrepreLeadership Files: Building Confidence in Others

EntrepreLeadership Files

As a leader, it’s your job to become an expert in your industry.  You’re expected to absorb enough knowledge to be able to execute your duties as if they were second nature. 

However, there is a danger in becoming so flawless in your approach as you mature as a leader that you can lose touch with what it is like to be a beginner in business and in leading other people.

You can forget what is is like to wake up every day with very little experience, expertise, and gravitas as you head into your daily routine.

When experienced leaders fail to take the time to build up, feed, and nourish the budding leaders around them, then they are failing in one of their most important areas of stewardship: Developing the next generation of leaders.

And this is especially true when incubating and cultivating the delicate grounds for young entrepreneurs.

Building Confidence is Key

The best way to embolden the aspiring entrepreneurs in your midst is to build their confidence.

Having a lot of knowledge doesn’t translate to results unless your budding entrepreneurs can convince others that they are sure of themselves.

Focusing on just three aspects of confidence-building can make the difference between being a good leader and being a great one!

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3 Aspects of Confidence-Building

1) Pick the Right Mentors

Great entrepreneurs should surround themselves with the right people.

A mentor can help brainstorm, help refine an idea or help strengthen a proposal.  Mentors will ask pointed questions in a non-threatening manner. Their goal is to guide and rehearse an entrepreneur, not tear apart his concepts.

Finding someone who is engaged enough to ask these questions and smart enough to recognize good answers is crucial to an entrepreneur.

An entrepreneur knowing that he has a supportive team behind him will build the confidence to persistently move forward.

Remember that these experts can come from all walks of life. This is the case because business development requires a variety of skill sets and knowledge bases to be successful.  Consider accountants, lawyers, small business counselors, bankers, and other entrepreneurs when seeking out mentors.

2) Prepare to Think on Your Feet

It’s true that nobody will have faith in an entrepreneur’s ideas if she doesn’t strongly believe in them herself.

Many who are starting out struggle to strike the right tone in their pitches. They end up vacillating between being too overbearing and shrinking back too much.

The key is to help your budding entrepreneurs rehearse a sales or presentation pitch without memorizing it.

Pitches hinge on the give-and-take of asking questions and providing answers.  If a novice doesn’t have the answer, she shouldn’t bluff because the savvy people they are approaching will see right through the blustering.  Instead, she needs to perform an in-depth analysis of the idea, the market, the competition, and the customer prior to making the pitch.

Most people lose confidence in a pitcher when she doesn’t fullyand fails to adequately explain why her venture retains a competitive advantage.

Having this knowledge in advance will make it easy to provide off-the-cuff explanations to even the strangest questions.

3) Learn to Rebound From Rejection

An aspiring entrepreneur shouldn’t get involved in the field without a thorough understanding that everyone gets rejected from time to time.

However, they might not realize that persistence is the difference between success and failure for an entrepreneur.

Remind them that the rejection was focused on the proposal, not on the pitcher themself.  The rejection is one of the best learning tools they’ll ever receive.

As they discusses others’ objections, they will take away vital (and free!) information to use going forward.  These people have just clarified what aspects of the product or service aren’t desirable for them.

Like a great focus group, they’ve told the entrepreneur what they need to tweak in order to develop a more successful proposal.

Whether he appears before them again or makes the pitch to another client in the future, the pitcher should embrace this feedback as a nugget of gold.  He now knows what to do to fine-tune the venture’s competitive advantage.

Sweet Sting of Success: Failure

It’s hard to not feel stung occasionally as an entrepreneur, but a great leader will help a beginner use these situations as learning opportunities.  Being open-minded to feedback, rather than becoming jaded by it, signals the difference between a successful pitcher and a struggling one.

When someone is just starting out, remember how easy it can be to lose confidence.

Demonstrate the depth of your leadership ability by restoring her confidence and showing her how to develop belief in herself.  It will pay you – and your industry – back many times over.

Greg Bier is a Professor of Management at the University of Missouri

He leads the Entrepreneurship Alliance at Robert J. Trulaske Sr. College of Business
Email | LinkedIn | Website

Image Sources:  takeactionguru.com

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