Can you imagine Alexander the Great or Napoleon Bonaparte as insecure leaders? Can you imagine them trying to rally troops and yet being hesitant in the calls they had to make? In the heat of battle? What would it be like if a president appeared unsure or said, “I don’t know” a lot during his/her speeches?
Most of us respond to that by immediately thinking, “Whoa, that probably wouldn’t be good.” But, those leaders exist. They exist in the workplace; they exist in churches; they exist in homes. In fact, I was one when I had an early leadership position. They exist, in some cases, because they had leadership thrust upon them. They were given a title but they weren’t given the tools. Or maybe you are just born with the tools and they can only be sharpened. (That may be another discussion.)
Leadership is a funny thing. We are all grown-ups and we make decisions everyday. But some leaders, especially reluctant leaders, often wonder why they are in that position. They wonder why people need to follow them anyway. They wonder what caused them to be placed in this “unenviable” position.
People are different. We all make different decisions. We all have different perspectives. We all respond differently. So, when we are all in the same room, we need someone to pull things together. At the very minimum, a leader is there to break the tie. And they MUST be willing to break the tie while living with the results of the tiebreak. They must lead confidently.[Tweet “He inspires a group only if he is filled with confidence and hope of success. – Floyd Filson”]
Here’s the problem
The trouble is that confidence isn’t a natural thing for most. It must be developed. And it must be developed for the right use. Confidence developed for the wrong reason is simply viewed as selfish conceit. Confidence developed for the purpose of service is viewed as determination. But how is this developed?[Tweet “Confidence developed for the purpose of service is viewed as determination – RK3”]
1. Leaders must take risks. A leader has got to be willing to try. By nature, most of us are fearful and we are especially fearful of things that are new. There is an entire industry called “change management” for this very reason. You may not succeed but the willingness to try something new is an important confidence booster. Let me add here that the “trying” should be well communicated. Trying in a vacuum and then simply telling a group of people that you are responsible to doesn’t build trust. Transparency and frequent communication are critical here.
2. Leaders must learn. If the leader of the organization isn’t attending seminars, being coached, reading books, creating new learning opportunities, then you should run. This is an organization that will not grow very far. If they are simply depending on their own personal charisma and talent for long term success, then you will not see much sustainable growth. Confidence grows as you surpass new levels. Growth is essential.
3. Leaders must ACT. QUICKLY. One of the toughest things for people to do is wait. It’s worse when they have to wait without direction. Sometimes, it’s necessary to think through the options before you. But, mostly, people want to know that the options are being considered and when they can expect a response. Decision making is an art to be practiced. A leader most often needs to be able to garner input quickly, synthesize the information, make a decision and then live with the result. This process, repeated, builds confidence in the decision making capability of the leader. The confidence is built not only in the leader themselves but also the people that are looking to them for a decision. The quick action doesn’t always bring resolution. It may simply be an action to show that a process has started. Sometimes, that’s just enough.
As I learned in my first supervisory position, confident leadership reassures the team that you’ve got their back. It allows them to know that you have their best interests at heart but you are also willing to do what it takes to ensure great results. It lets them know that in the heat of battle, you will stand up and not shrink. Confident leadership shows that you are not just interested in the title, you are interested in the success of everyone you lead.
Confident Leadership Is Not The Same As Arrogant Leadership
I began by asking a question about Napoleon. You could say that he was confident. But, he was ultimately viewed as arrogant and it led to his downfall. He became intoxicated by his power and stepped on anyone who got in his way. Being a “warrior” got him his fame and so after a while, he believed that continually winning wars would bring continued fame to himself and his nation. But he stopped listening to his advisors who told him not to invade Russia in 1812. He lost more than half a million men and ultimately his position.
This leads to one more thing that confident leaders do. They listen.
How confident do you like your leader? I’d love to read your comments.