As a Leader, Don't 'Fake It 'Til You Make It'

December 6, 2016
VMD Staff

Brian Faulkner, Bsc (Hons), BVM&S, CertGP (BPS), CertGP (SAM), MBA, MSc (Psych), MRCVS, explains why as leaders, we shouldn’t be faking it until we make it.

Brian Faulkner, Bsc (Hons), BVM&S, CertGP (BPS), CertGP (SAM), MBA, MSc (Psych), MRCVS, explains why as leaders, we shouldn’t be faking it until we make it.

Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)

“With respect to sometimes people ask, ‘Should I fake it till I make it,’ until you actually have a deeper sense of self-confidence, that’s an interesting question. I’m not a big fan of faking anything. I think if we got shown to be an imposter, or a fraud, I think it can actually do us more harm in the long term. But sometimes there is that element of actually saying, ‘Go with faith.’ Actually step forward and say, ‘It will turn out OK in the end.’ But I don’t like the idea of deception as a way of trying to prove that we’re confident.

What I say to people is confidence, think of it as a process as opposed to a possession. I will see on CVs and personal statements all the time, people saying, ‘I’m a confident, motivated, passionate person,’ as if these are things they possess. But I can be very confident in one context, and then you put me, for example, on a dance floor, I’m not very confident at all. That’s more of a task confidence. Do I believe that I can learn to dance one day? If I decided to, I probably could.

It’s this idea that it’s a process. There’s a way of going forward. Core, core feedback for confidence is giving people feedback using verbs and adverbs, i.e., doing words. ‘You’re doing this well because. You’re doing this effectively because.’ As opposed to giving people more feedback using nouns and adjectives, ‘you’re amazing,’ trying to build your confidence up, without telling you why. That’s a self-esteem inflation. Actually, what happens is when you feel or I feel by boosting myself up by telling them what I am in terms of noun and adjective, ‘I’m amazing. I’m the best. I’m fantastic,’ is when I fall, I’ll fall harder. I don’t have a process to go back to be able to pick up where I fell and get back on.

I hope that makes sense. It’s a very subtle, but a very, very significant difference in our confidence, in our resilience, and in our motivation. The belief there’s a process and a path that we can learn and master, versus the belief that we are somehow special, which is a very fickle form of confidence.”