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What Does Confident Leadership Look Like?

Confident leadership can often be confused with arrogance. It can also be interpreted wrongly. So, here is what confident leadership really looks like.


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Tavian jean-pierre

4 months ago | 4 min read
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Photo by Leohoho on Unsplash

When we think of leadership, the trait of confidence often comes to mind. The ability to trust your intuition and communicate to others requires confidence.

However, it is also a trait that can be seen in a negative light. Being overly confident can lead to rash behaviour. And it can lead to the dismissal of others and their opinions.

For Aristotle, confidence was born from our ability to be courageous. It is through courage we can escape our fears and move our lives towards freedom.

Maya Angelou is most known for saying:

“Courage is the most important of the virtues because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

Aristotle would differ from Maya Angelou in this regard. For Aristotle, prudence (practical wisdom) was the most important virtue. As courage requires good judgement, Aristotle believed prudence was the foundation needed.

I agree more with Aristotle too. It is not about being courageous. It is about knowing when to do so. And it is the same for leadership. Confidence is an essential trait, but it also requires balance. And that balance is what leaders need to find in their lives.

Following my article on humble leadership, I thought it would be good to highlight what confident leadership looks like. It is hard to see both of these working together. But, they can. And both require an act of courage. So, here is how leaders can build confidence and demonstrate it to their team.

Building Confidence in Your Leadership

Although I do not believe in self-confidence, our confidence does start with ourselves. Self-confidence means to be confident in our own abilities. However, we would need to justify the confidence we have within ourselves for it to make sense.

I am not confident within myself to perform a medical operation. I have never done so, and I have not been trained either. However, I am confident that I can write an article on leadership.

The difference between the two is that one has been tested and proven. All confidence starts with ourselves, but we must not mix it with false hope. Self-confidence comes about when we have consistently seen good results from our actions.

Even self-confidence in things like our appearance is affected by external factors. If we are not told enough that we look good, we may start questioning our sense of fashion. We need those meaningful to us to compliment and encourage us to become confident.

For leaders starting out, it would be irrational to be confident in their own abilities. This is especially true if you have not even done any observing or studying of leaders. However, this is not a bad thing. It just means that you need to build your confidence.

Building your confidence as a leader requires three things:

  1. Observation
  2. Feedback
  3. Listening

Observation

Upon making decisions, it is essential to observe your team’s response. It is easy to know when a bad decision has been made, but hard to tell when a good one has.

However, observing the way your team respond to your leadership is essential. It is also vital to observe other leaders too. Taking hints from those who have been doing it for longer than you can help you build confidence by copying their behaviours.

Feedback

Receiving good feedback from your team is vital. So many leaders do not take time out to prepare the right questions to ask their team. This leads to poor feedback and a lack of understanding of what can be changed.

Also, asking for regular feedback takes courage. It can be hard to hear feedback, especially when it is negative. However, being humble enough to know you are not always right leads to the confidence you need.

Listening

Finally, listening to others is essential if you seek to build confidence in yourself. Remember, when we speak, we are often saying things we already know. But listening allows us to observe information we may not know.

Therefore, listening can help build the foundation required for confident leadership.

Demonstrating Confidence to Your Team

Leaders best demonstrate their confidence when they act upon the three things highlighted above. Confident leadership is not being puffed up in your own ability. It is knowing what your team need.

The best leaders that have graced this world have understood what their followers needed. Your purpose as a leader is to not only guide your team’s path but also support them along the way.

Your confidence starts with your attitude towards your team. It is about observing the needs of your team and listening to what they have to say. Then, you can act knowing that your actions support their needs.

As a leader, your confidence takes courage not because you have to perform something rash. It is because you face the problems of your team despite the struggles and act accordingly.

A confident leader is:

  • Someone who knows the current problems in their team
  • A person who grounds their confidence in supporting the team’s needs
  • Someone who can act accordingly through observation and listening
  • A person who is not afraid of accepting feedback

So, confidence starts with yourself. Not because you are self-confident, but because you must change your attitude. It is through observation, feedback and listening you can be a confident leader.

Confidence Is a Reinforcing Loop

Confidence starts with the perception of your team and then ends with your team’s response. To continue to build your confidence, you need both your team and yourself.

As you observe and act, your team will continue to confirm if your actions are helpful. Through this constant loop of observing and affirming, you can build on your confidence.

So, confident leadership starts with the leader. The leader must be courageous enough to observe, listen and accept their faults. Then, they must be courageous to act on what they have gathered from their team. It starts with you and ends with your team.

Confidence requires more than one person. It is the result of both you and your team working together to become better.

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Tavian jean-pierre

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Writer of Tavian's Blog & Leadership Consultant at Data Driven Investor

I am a Visionary and Writer who seeks to change ideologies, encourage others to find their creative spark, and inspire people through the powerful tools of writing and leadership.


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