Confidence Through Trust

Blog 2023-04-25 photo

As part of discovering how courage takes shape (see last week’s blog), let’s explore confidence. While it’s easy to think that some people have it and some don’t, it’s just not that simple. 

Confidence is built (vs. being simply there or not) and it requires something foundational…trust. The word “confidence” comes from the Latin word fidere which means “to trust”; therefore, self-confidence is about trust in oneself. 

So much about leadership boomerangs to trust. When we think about trust, we tend to think first about one of four types of trust: 

  • PERSONAL TRUST: The confidence we have in a specific person based on character and motives demonstrated over time. For example, this might be a romantic partner, a friend, or a family member. 

However, trust is not unidimensional. It is helpful to match trust to a context, and extend trust based on what seems appropriate. For example: 

  • EXPERT TRUST: You trust someone based on their expertise in a given area such as an accountant preparing your taxes. 
  • PROCESS TRUST: You trust a given situation because you know or assume that a process is in place, aimed at producing an outcome, such as air traffic control and airline procedures keeping you safe and getting you where you need to go. 
  • STRUCTURAL TRUST: You trust a group or leadership system and that structure instills confidence that their purpose is being achieved, such as a city council in your town. 

In my own work as an Executive Coach, I have witnessed clients who make fast progress increasing their awareness of self and others. They are the ones who become good at building trust and displaying real confidence. Conversely, I’ve noticed when people are blind to behaviors that continuously get in their way (e.g., being perfectionist, too controlling, overly pleasing), they tend to have less trust in others and display lower self-confidence. 

In summary: Confidence is built through trust. Trust requires awareness. 

Harvard Business Review recently reported, “Un-self-aware colleagues aren’t just frustrating; they can cut a team’s chance of success in half.” While trust and confidence aren’t the only factors that set you up for success, they are pivotal. Once you become aware of the type of trust that you have — or that may be missing — with time and intentionality, you can build confidence which strengthens courage. 

This Week: Think about some person or situation you don’t trust right now – this may include your own feelings of self-confidence. Consider the types of trust outlined above to clarify why you may not have trust or confidence. Be sure to get specific. For example, if you don’t trust a person, could it be that you don’t have confidence in their expertise to perform a certain task? Or, if you don’t trust the leadership team of your organization, could it be that you aren’t familiar with the management processes in place to ensure the company is run well? Once you identify the type of trust that may be absent, start to reframe how you see the person, group, or situation to evolve your trust level…to grow your confidence.

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