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Every employee across your organization—directly or indirectly—has the ability to create influence and impact the bottom line. So it’s just as essential to develop your individual contributors as it is to invest in your executive team. Currently, many individual contributors are part of Generation Y or Generation Z, who are the future of the workforce. Yet often, they are overlooked and unprepared for the future. Therefore, it’s important to ensure your aspiring leaders have self-leadership skills, including confidence, accountability, and emotional intelligence. Let’s dig into why these traits are important for individuals to possess and why they need to use them in tandem with their technical, job-related skills. 

Confidence is Key

Because many individual contributors don't have the same authority as manager, some are less likely to speak up, challenge ideas, or step out of their comfort zone. For example, some common qualms that younger employees have are ambiguity about speaking up in meetings, vague protocols on sharing opinions or ideas with others, and hesitance to take the lead on projects. If your employees don’t feel comfortable doing these things, it could hinder your current and future organizational effectiveness. All of these problems can stem from a lack of confidence.

This is why the first step individual contributors can take to take to excel in their career is creating confidence. According to Harvard Business Review, there is a direct connection between confidence and perceptions of competence: if you want to be seen as competent, you must be confident. (It's also important to be able to back up your confidence with competence!) Does your organization help those early in their career develop confidence in themselves and their abilities? At Birkman, we know that confidence is an important ingredient to self-leadership, which is about actively developing a confident sense of who you are, taking ownership of what you do, and being intentional about where you’re going.

You can help instill confidence in your employees by:

1. Encouraging them to speak up in meetings, and backing them up or adding to their perspective when they do so

2. Giving them opportunities to lead projects, and providing guidance along the way

3. Making it a priority for them to stay knowledgeable in their area of expertise and stay current on relevant topics

4. Celebrate their accomplishments and build off past successes

Why Confidence is Important for Your Organization and Employees

There are several reasons why confidence is crucial. First, employees who are confident will more likely perform at their best, even if they are under pressure or stress. Second is perception. They’ll be perceived by others as a confident person, which will help reinforce a strong personal brand across the organization. Keep in mind, having the right amount of confidence is crucial. Exuding too much confidence early on in one's career can also have unintended consequences. Third, confidence has a positive correlation with self-esteem. If there are organizational, team, or individual goals that your company encourages, having a positive self-esteem will positively push each employee to be motivated to reach them.

Accountability is the Glue That Ties Commitment to Results

Self-management is the ability to control your own behaviors, manage your emotions, take the initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances. All of these are important to have as an individual contributor. Accountability, or lack thereof, can affect how others respect certain individuals, how teams collaborate, and how strongly one is connected to the work they do. Obviously, we all want to be respected by our colleagues and be an asset to our organization, and individuals are more likely to be respected if they show they are trustworthy to both their manager and colleagues. But, this isn’t always easy. It is sometimes harder for younger employees to not make excuses for themselves, especially if a project doesn’t go the way they planned, which is why it's important to focus on what’s within your control. Teach your employees to take responsibility for their successes AND failures. If everyone within the team is held to being accountable, teams will work smarter together. Just ask your employees this question: How do you want to be perceived by others? 

Why Accountability is Important for Your Organization and Employees

If you teach employees that it is important to do what they said they are going to do, your company will be filled with healthy relationships built on trust and commitment. Being accountable will help reduce stress because they are taking control by taking ownership. Lastly, being accountable will help you increase employee productivity and helps save time and money.

Emotional Intelligence: An Essential Aspect of Success

The foundation for Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is self-awareness and self-management. Do your employees have a good grasp on their workplace strengths, triggers, and motivators? Unfortunately, most do not unless they’ve gone through EQ programs. Understanding and communicating your workplace Needs in a way that others understand and being able to manage one’s emotions when stressed is critical to your high-potential’s personal and professional success. Great leaders interact with intention by developing self-awareness and demonstrating emotional intelligence in constantly changing, complex environments to lead their organizations more effectively. Encourage your employees to learn more about themselves. Help them understand. It’ll be a huge benefit for not only them, but for your company’s future. 

Why EQ is Important for Your Organization and Employees

Provide your employees with insight into who they are and why they act the way they do. They will better understand their strengths (and how to use them) and their opportunities for growth. In return, you’ll have a company full of better communicators, conflicts that get resolved, and improved relationships between teams. This will also lead to a confidence boost. It’s a win-win!

Accelerate Employee Development with Birkman

These three traits set the foundation for individual contributors to become future leaders. Together, having confidence in yourself, accountability to others, and the emotional intelligence to effectively handle interpersonal relationships is a powerful trio of traits to help any employee thrive. Birkman is essential to this type of personal growth. We provide individual contributors with the knowledge they need to be confident, accountable, and emotionally intelligent. Let’s connect.

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