5 Mistakes Leaders Make That Undermine Confidence

"Karin, I get the whole confident humility thing, I really do."

"But, no matter what I try, my team just waits for me to tell them what to do. They seem scared to act. We're in a real crisis."

"If they really cared, they'd step up and do something. I don't really have time to fix them, we need results now. I think some of them may need to go."

If you've tried to develop confidence in your team, but they're still scared, take a closer look. You may be falling into one of these 5 traps.

1. Give me a new big task, because you believe in me, but don't give me enough support to succeed.

Stretch assignments and special projects are one of the best ways to build confidence and skills. Be sure you're also providing the scaffolding and resources to succeed. Failing at one of these big opportunities will make both of you gun shy to try it again. If they're scared to even try, help them get past their bad last-time experiences.

2. Tell me I am doing great, but with no details as to what is working.

If someone's insecure about their accomplishments, it's particularly important that your praise is specific. You did a great job when __________. The presentation you gave worked so well because__________. Shallow or unspecific praise is more likely to be discounted by your team member's competing inner voice. If you want to build confidence, praise with specifics.

3. Recognize what I do at work, and ignore who I am and what I am accomplishing on the sidelines.

Always remember the person is bigger than the job. Treat them that way. If you want to tap into your team member's full potential, pay attention to what they're already accomplishing in other arenas. A great way to build workplace confidence is to help them leverage skills they already are using outside of work.

4. View me as a specialist, and over look my creative idea and what I could do to contribute to the bigger picture.

There's a downside to being pigeon-holed as an expert. If you only go to the finance guy for finance things, he'll always act like a finance guy. To build larger confidence ask provocative questions that get him thinking more strategically.

5. Stay calm, cool, and collected, and show no emotion around my big wins.

When a team member is feeling really proud and comes to you for affirmation, it's okay to say "wow." I promise, being impressed with incremental wins will build confidence, not encourage them to settle for mediocrity.

Wait - There's More

For a great line-up on confident humility, see what Lead Changers and others have to say in the confidence and humility editions of the Frontline Festival.

Also, for exercises to build more confidence in your team, download my free e-book Talking Teams featuring nine activities to inspire confident humility and achieve breakthrough results.