1. Tap Into the Power of Humility
That means swallowing your pride, say Posner and Kouzes. In lieu of deferring your opinion, be conscious of the weight of your opinion balanced against the thoughts and ideas of others. Remembering that no one is better than another levels the playing field and makes a leader more open-minded.
2. Listen Twice as Much As You Talk
Another leadership icon takes humility to the next level. As the Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon once shared, "It's not just that you are recognizing other people. At the heart of recognition is, you're acknowledging you don't know it all. You're acknowledging other people are really good. You're applauding other people for their contributions. You're telling them that you want to hear what they have to say."
Indeed, the truest way to discern your opinion is by gathering information and actively listening to subject matter experts, among them colleagues, partners, market thought leaders and—most importantly—your fellow employees. Rely on your own ability to work strategically, and then improvise, learn and grow your way into making memorable contributions.
3. Be Open to Taking Career Risks
Listening doesn't mean taking a back seat. Tech executive and leadership activist Sheryl Sandberg tackles the idea of collaborating and prompts her audience of future leaders (mainly, women) to skip the people-pleasing in her buzzed-about book . One key takeaway from Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (Deckle Edge, 2013) was to jump for a leadership opportunity even if you are only 60 percent certain you have the skills. Rely on your own ability to work strategically, and then improvise, learn and grow your way into making memorable contributions.
4. Draw Assurance From Life Experience
While leadership confidence comes partly from experience, that doesn't mean having little to none makes a lesser leader. Most millennials have already demonstrated aspects of leadership whether they have realized it or not. Recent graduates can—and should—leverage their experience working in teams, within their families and/or in their communities, applying acquired strategies in the workplace. Confidence can help us all take the steps required to be great leaders.
5. Invest In Your Strengths
Another confidence booster is uncovering your personal strengths, as well as those of who you influence. Leadership consultant Barry Conchie and New York Times best-selling author Tom Rath share that this is something most effective leaders do. After all, leaders—and their teams—aren't made the same; each have different strengths, from influencing and relationship-building to strategic thinking and executing.