When you are in charge of people, whether as a leader or as a manager there are times that you will need to show confidence in them and their abilities. Even if your people do not have confidence in themselves and their abilities, you must show them that you have confidence in them.
I once had to do this during my time in the Army. Once while I was a CPT and the Commander of Detachment Delta, 510TH Personnel Services Battalion out of Vicenza, Italy. I decided to take my unit to the field. For the non-military people reading this blog, taking your unit to the field means getting them out of the office environment and seeing how they perform their job while undergoing different levels of stress.
Prior to my arrival, the unit would go to the field by just setting up their tents next to the office. I told them that I did not believe that was an accurate test of their knowledge, skills and abilities. I informed them that instead we would be going the field site at Camp Darby.
To go to Camp Darby, which is located in the Pisa, Italy area, we had to conduct a 5-hour convoy from Vicenza, Italy to Camp Darby, Italy. For the non-military readers, a convoy is when you travel from one location to another at a set rate of speed with all of or most of your military vehicles and all or most of your equipment.
Because going all the way to Camp Darby was something new for the unit, most of them voiced their concerns about going and lacking the training and confidence to do this new challenge. This is where I had to show them the confidence I had in them and to help install in them the confidence they needed to meet this new challenge. I was able to reinforce that they had indeed done the training required for this new challenge and that they should be confident in their abilities as I was very confident in them.
When we arrived to Camp Darby, we set up a driver’s training course to allow everyone who did not have a military drivers license to obtain one. As part of the process, I took everyone through the driver’s course in the daytime to show them the course. Then at night I had to take them again to drive the course. As it was a requirement that to obtain your military drivers license you had to complete a day and nighttime drivers course.
I had taken one person on the course during the daytime and this person did very well. But for some reason during the nighttime part, this person lost the confidence required. This was somewhat understandable. As the part the person was not confident about completing had you go down a steep angle to the edge of a fence and then you had to reverse back up the steep angle. Plus you had to do this in what in the Army is called black out light driving. This is where all the lights of the vehicle are off except for the two small black out lights on the front. So you are essentially driving in the dark with no lights.
So we were there at the top of the steep angle and the person was saying there was no way they could drive to the bottom and then return in reverse without hitting the fence. I reminded them that they had done the exact same process not once, not twice but three times earlier in the day. I also reminded them how easy it was for them and how confident they were before. I told them that I knew they could do this and that I was confident in their ability.
The person asked how they could know I was actually confident in them and just not saying that. I simply said that if I was not confident in you, I would not be sitting in here with you. The person laughed and said yes, you are in here with me aren't you. So the person then went down the steep angle and then reversed the vehicle back up the steep angle with no problems. If I had not shown them how confident I was in them, they would never of been able to complete their drivers training and obtain their military drivers license.
It is very important to show confidence in your people and to show them that you believe in their abilities. By doing this you will increase the great things they will accomplish every day. By showing confidence in your people they will be empowered to try new things and to obtain success. Which will be to the benefit of you and your organization and of course to your people.