To be a strong and resourceful project manager who is respected by team members and stakeholders, you have to have enough self-esteem to naturally stand up for yourself, your team, and your project. You have to have enough faith in yourself and in your skills in order to comfortably make decisions and lead your team in the right direction.
The more self-esteem you have, the stronger you will be and appear. This is not about being arrogant or headstrong. It is essential to balance confidence and humility. Self-esteem is simply about valuing your own contributions and believing in yourself. If you are able to do so, it will be easier for you to say no and push back when required. You will more easily be able to respond in calm, proactive, and resourceful ways.
As an example, imagine a situation in which a senior stakeholder asks you to deliver a product significantly earlier than planned. You know that your team will not be able to achieve this deadline without making drastic changes to scope and quality. You also know that the reason for this request is not business-critical and that incorporating such a drastic change at this point in time will end up costing the client more money and will cause the project to take longer overall. In this situation, many project managers would feel insecure and would bow to the stakeholder’s request without openly questioning it. They may want to question it but they do not have enough self-confidence and belief in themselves to do it.
One of the first steps in building self-esteem is to accept that you cannot please everyone and that your needs, rights, and feelings are as important as everyone else’s. Take a moment to assess if this is true for you.
Start to notice when you are being overly critical of yourself. Whenever it happens, stop for a moment, and reframe the situation. It is all too easy for us to focus on what we feel is missing. Challenge yourself to see the positive in each situation and what you have to bring to the table. Take credit for the tasks and activities you do well and actively start to leverage your strengths. If you truly struggle to value yourself, find a confident mentor or coach who you can work with.
If there are skills you feel you are lacking, take a course, read a book, or learn from a co-worker. Do not ignore these feelings. Empower yourself by being proactive and doing something about them.
A good way to build self-esteem is to practice appreciation—of yourself. Each day, notice what you do well as a person and as a project manager. Write these strengths down in a notebook, and find new areas and capabilities to appreciate every day. See yourself as the confident project manager and leader you want to be.
Another action you can take is to compose a vision and mission statement and stick it in a place where you can easily see it. Make sure it is positive and appealing and that it puts emphasis on feeling good and being confident. For example:
“I feel confident and calm in everything I do as a project manager. I love and respect myself, and I value my uniqueness and my capabilities. My mission is to focus on my strengths and to have the confidence to withstand pressure from demanding stakeholders…”
Read your vision and mission statement as many times as you can during the day. Close your eyes and imagine being strong and confident. Really feel it in your body. This will help you create a new pattern where you feel and think differently about yourself.
It can take time to build self-esteem, but with the right support and willingness, you can change the way you feel about yourself more quickly than you think.
o Read uplifting and motivational books
o Spend time with confident people
o Notice and recognize your strengths, achievements, and uniqueness
o Ask others what they think your unique talent is
o Imagine being strong, positive, and confident
o Identify a self-confident role model and learn from him or her
o Set reachable goals, and break difficult tasks into smaller steps
o Write an empowering vision and mission statement and live by it
o Be objective and fair when assessing your capabilities
o Work with a confident mentor or coach
1. Think of a point in time when you felt really confident. Close your eyes and imagine it now. Where were you? What did you do? Who were you with?
2. Focus on the feeling you had in your body at that time. Where in your body did you feel a confident sensation? Be specific. Recall that feeling now.
3. Focus on this feeling in your body every day when you get out of bed and when you get to work. Try this exercise for a week and assess its impact.
4. Make it a habit to feel good and to appreciate your strengths and contributions.
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