Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less. Everything rises and falls on leadership. Both of these statements are clear, simple, and true. When an organization or team has good results, it is because good leadership was provided. On the other hand, poor results indicate poor leadership.
What I have learned over the years as a student of leadership is how the qualities and skills of good leadership can most definitely be cultivated. And one of the key ingredients to learning and implementing successful leadership practices is the amount of self-confidence the potential leader has.
Why is self-confidence so important? Simply this: to learn and implement successful leadership practices involves the process of trial and error. Having self-confidence enables you to try something new, accept some failure, and learn from the experience.
Those without self-confidence are very hesitant to try new approaches; they resist taking risks because they fear negative outcomes.
Self-confident leaders know and accept the reality they are not very good the first time they try something, even despite the best planning and preparation.
Self-confident leaders also know for every problem they encounter, there must be at least one and likely several viable solutions. Their self-confidence enables them to think from different perspectives, engage others to expand their insight, and create options where none seem to exist.
Here are five characteristics and actions of highly self-confident leaders:
- They are decisive in their decision making. In his classic book Think and Grow Rich, author Napoleon Hill said, “Analysis of several hundred people who had accumulated fortunes…disclosed the fact that every one of them had the habit of reaching decisions promptly, and of changing those decisions slowly, if, and when they were changed.” He makes the point that procrastination is the opposite of decision and is a deficiency everyone must conquer.
The decisive habit is connected with knowing one’s values and purpose. Decisions are made more easily when you know what you stand for and know your purpose.
- They establish a vision and set goalsto move ever closer to its attainment. It has been said “A leader without a vision is like a ship without a rudder.”
Having a clear vision which motivates and challenges a team enables a leader to provide energy, drive, and direction. Setting goals and providing resources gives leaders the assurance such goals can be accomplished and creates higher levels of self-confidence.
- They have relentless persistence. Many unsuccessful leaders crumble at the initial signs of resistance or obstacle. Such failure to exercise relentless persistence is indicative of a leader with low self-confidence.
On the other hand, self-confident leaders have less fear of negative outcomes. They know not every idea they have or action they take will be successful, yet they persevere until the goal is achieved by implementing alternative ideas and actions.
- They are focused, organized, and in tune with where they spend their time. Self-confident leaders know the value of their time. They know when to say yes and when to say no, particularly when an opportunity arises that is not aligned with their vision.
They do not suffer from SOS – “shiny object syndrome.” Rather, they are laser focused; they know their top 3 to 4 skills and delegate everything else which requires skills they don’t possess.
- They welcome constructive feedback. We all have blind spots, leaders included. Successful leaders have sufficient levels of self-confidence to know they are not perfect and they intentionally build relationships with others who see behaviors, attitudes, and reactions they might miss.
They seek honest feedback, not to add to their self-confidence or seek reassurance, but rather to develop a deeper awareness of the impact they have on people and organizations.
Since leadership is about influence, self-confident leaders know they need to show the team how much they care. In order to influence others, both parties must operate within a spirit of trust. Without trust, a leader has no influence.
How is your level of self-confidence? Do the above habits resonate with you? If you’d like to enhance these habits, let me know. I’d be glad to be of assistance.