As the leader, if you don’t believe it’s unlikely you’ll get others to believe you either.
Confidence is one of the reasons why principals are successful, or, in its absence, why they struggle. Your success as the principal is more about what you’re able to get others to do and not just what you can accomplish on your own. Your skills in bringing others together to work towards the vision of the school is more critical than your ability to do it all yourself. Many school leaders are selected for the job because they can get things done; once in the position of leadership, it’s more about what the others around you accomplish and how you lead them on the journey to success. That’s where confidence plays such an important part.
There’s a subtle difference between the leader who visualizes what things will look like when the organization is running at its best and the leader who, at their core, is doubtful the team can be successful. Those doubts usually begin in a lack of confidence in their own ability to get the faculty on board to move forward together. The principal who isn’t sure that it’ll work usually becomes a part of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
When the principal is confident, she/he can generate enthusiasm about the work at hand and get others to join the effort. It’s hard to sell something you don’t believe in, but if you genuinely believe in something, it’s not like you’re selling anything at all. In our business, there are plenty of things to believe in: the power of learning; that all students can learn; that everyone deserves an opportunity; that teachers make a difference. When you deeply believe in those or other core values of your school, your influence has no bounds! Your confidence spreads and gets others over the hump in their struggle with self-doubt. Confidence is contagious; so is doubt. Be intentional in what you’re spreading.
What do you do if you really have doubts? Preparation is a key to confidence. (For evidence, watch classroom instruction that has been well-prepared for vs. a classroom where the teacher is winging it) Continue to learn. Spend time with other practitioners. Be a part of a principal PLC. The more you know, the further you’ll go!
It’s not just knowledge though. It’s also attitude. You have to summon the best of what’s inside of you to do what you need to do to lead your people. In any organization, the people don’t want to follow you if you don’t seem confident you can get there!
A note worth considering: you can take confidence too far. When you do, you reach the end of the scale and have landed into arrogance. That is as unproductive as living on the other extreme, doubt. When you can live between those two poles, you’ll be in a much better place to serve your faculty, staff, students, and community with strength, humility, and the belief that you’ll lead the team to success.
This is a part of an ongoing series of Eight Reasons Why Principals are Successful…or Struggle. Our first entries were: 1. Preparation; 2. Communication; 3. Leadership; 4. Judgment. Please look at earlier blog entries to see the series in entirety. Thank you!