Confidence tops the list of important leadership qualifications. And yet, most (if not all) leaders experience a dip in confidence along the way. Unfortunately, a lack of confidence is easy to spot in a leader, and has far-reaching consequences.
It is widely known that confidence is a critical trait of successful leadership. Confident leaders genuinely believe in their ability to make a difference. When confidence is taken too far, you can wind up with an arrogant leader that is unpleasant to be around, and people have no desire to follow. On the other hand, a leader who lacks confidence is unable to empower, motivate, and lead others.
When a project doesn’t go well, or sudden, big organizational changes have taken place, a leader’s confidence can take a hit.
Here are 8 signs your confidence might need a boost.
Praising others is difficult: When you lack confidence in your own abilities to succeed, it is difficult to recognize and praise the contributions and successes of others. Confident leaders are well aware that the successes of their team members directly contribute to their success as a leader, and have no problem praising and recognizing others for their achievements.
Taking credit: Related to the point above, leaders lacking confidence often withhold praise and recognition from others. Worse, they may even claim credit for the team’s positive results.
Withholding information: Withholding information, or controlling what information is communicated, may help you feel more in control of what is going on with your team or your department. But without honest, complete and timely information, employees cannot successfully do their jobs or feel connected to their team and organization. Withholding information only creates confusion and breeds mistrust.
Criticizing others: Focusing on the shortcomings and mistakes of others is often a way to deflect attention from your own flaws and missteps. Leaders and employees alike will occasionally make mistakes; mistakes are a necessary component of innovation and improvement. When you criticize others, you erode the trust and confidence of your team members, and discourage them from trying new things and taking calculated risks in the future.
Talking too much: When you feel the need to explain or justify decisions and actions in great detail, or you are rambling because you are anxious, you are lacking confidence in your abilities and decision making. Confident leaders are comfortable taking their time to choose their words carefully when communicating. They also take the time to listen to others before interjecting their thoughts and opinions. People don’t listen to or follow those who are unsure of themselves.
Micromanaging: When you’re not confident in your ability to lead your team members, you might resort to micromanaging them to ensure they are doing their jobs correctly. When you insist on being involved or being informed of every single step along the way, you communicate to your employees that you lack confidence in their ability to execute the tasks for which they are responsible. Not only does micromanaging waste time, it also erodes team morale and demotivates your employees.
Indecisive: Indecisiveness communicates a lack of confidence in your trajectory. Leaders who lack confidence are often uncomfortable making decisions without having all the information available to them, and analyzing all possibilities. Effective leaders know that chances are they will never have all 100% of the information. They are comfortable making decisions in a timely manner, even when there’s a risk of failure. A good decision now is almost always better than a perfect decision later.
Go the safe route: When you’re paralyzed by the fear of failure, you stay safely confined to your comfort zone instead of taking risks and pushing for innovation. When you operate solely within your comfort zone, your chances of failure are decreased, but the payoff will never be as great. Great leaders know the risk of failure is a real, and necessary, component of leadership.
Leadership is difficult. It is just about impossible to navigate tough decisions and circumstances without having confidence in your ability to do so. If you don’t have confidence in yourself, your team isn’t going to have confidence in your leadership, either. Are you in need of a confidence boost? I’ve written more on confidence and leadership here and here.