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How to Build a Confident Team

How to Build a Confident Team

As a leader, I find building confidence in others around me to be a key part of the plan. Whether I'm working with my team at the office or working with my children at home, when I let them know that I value their thoughts, creativity, and criticism, they generally perform much better.

Now I'm not talking about praising every little thing someone does or encouraging them to act as though they're better than other people. There is such a thing as too much confidence, especially if it's built on false premises.

These are the guidelines I follow to encourage genuine confidence in others.

Compliment and Criticize Honestly

I enjoy complimenting others when it's deserved, whether it's because they did a great job on an assignment or because I like the outfit they are wearing that day. Compliments are a great confidence builder. People know when you offer them compliments from a point of honesty, and it makes them stand taller.

By the same token, I also provide others with honest criticism. People often hear the word "criticism" and become defensive, because they think it means someone is taking a personal jab at them. When done right, however, criticism can be couched in helpful instead of harmful terms.

For instance, telling someone that the blog post they wrote is awful is not helpful criticism. On the other hand, you can tell a writer that the concept behind a post was great, but he or she needs to shorten up the sentences a little and break the piece up with more headlines to make it easier to read online. That's honest criticism that is useful both for the present project and for future blog posts.

Allow Others to be Honest Too

You need to be able to take it as well as you dish it. That goes for both compliments and criticism.

I can't tell you the number of times I've told someone they've done a great job and they immediately need to qualify why the job wasn't as great as I thought it was. I get that, because that was me for a long time too.

It took an active effort, but these days I've taught myself to accept that the best response to a compliment is, "Thank you."

If I want to tell someone about things I'd like to do to improve the job in the future, that's great. But I don't need to start cutting down the job I did. If you find yourself starting to do that, take a deep breath and remember this: you're not doing yourself or anyone else any favors.

As for criticism, I'm open to it. In fact, I'd rather have people tell me what they think I should do to improve a project than just have them call it "good." Mind you, that doesn't mean I'll always incorporate the criticism. It does, however, mean that the person took the time to really think about what I've done and offer an opinion in return. I respect that.

Because people know I feel that way, they feel confident offering me their opinions. That makes for a stronger team, as well as better project outcomes.

Learn From Your Mistakes

There was a great Sesame Street song about the fact that everyone makes mistakes. We all know it, yet many people don't seem to be able to accept it.

Obviously some mistakes are so big that they require immediate action. However, the vast majority should be used as learning opportunities instead of opportunities to cut others down. The attitude of "learn from your mistakes" lets your team know that it's OK to stretch beyond the boundaries of "we've always done it this way, so we should continue to do it this way."

No one knows everything when it comes to marketing. Technology is changing at a rapid pace, providing constant opportunities to gain new customers, create more dramatic interactions, reach broader audiences, and more. Moreover, different tactics work for different business models. Sometimes you just have to try new things to figure out what will work.

Not every new venture will be successful. But those who fear making mistakes are those who are missing out on huge opportunities.

Take Action

I'll leave you with one final thought on confidence.

You have control over whether or not you will act with confidence. You also have control over whether or not you want to try to inspire confidence in others.

However, there will always be people in life who will attempt to do the opposite and undermine your confidence. These people are toxic and it's hard to win the mental battle against them.

Don't let such folks tear you apart. If you have to, leave your situation and find something new. Just as it's your responsibility to help grow your team with confidence, it's also your responsibility not to let others shrink you with lack thereof.

Go Forth With Confidence

What tips do you have for building confidence in yourself and others? Let me know via email ( or continue the conversation with me on Twitter: @HollyChessman.

About the Author

I run Holly Chessman Marketing, a premier marketing firm that provides strategic advice, digital services, and social media guidance and education. Named one of New England’s Top 40 Influencers in Content and Digital Marketing, I fully understand the power of online engagement. I am passionate about implementing marketing strategies that result in quick growth, rapid revenue and happy customers. Holly have worked for a variety of tech companies, as well as spearheaded my own marketing consulting firm. I am regularly quoted in a variety of major publications. My book, AMPLIFY: How To Grow Your Reputation And The Kickass Career You Love, is an Amazon Best Seller. I am is also not afraid to embrace my nerdy side (as evidenced by my love of Neil Gaiman and my “talking” TARDIS).

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