Leadership Series (16) Importance of Self-Confidence In Leadership. By Victor A. Imhangbe

As Francisco Dao says, “Self-confidence is the fundamental basis from which leadership grows. As opine by Peter Barron Stark; “Confidence is the cornerstone of leadership. You can teach a leader to be an effective problem solver; more decisive; a better communicator; how to coach, mentor and hold team members accountable; and many other fundamentals of leadership. Yet, without that leader first believing in oneself, true leadership will exist only in title. A leader that is technically qualified for the position, but lacks confidence, will find it difficult to lead others”. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. I hear leaders worrying that if they show too much confidence, others will take them to be arrogant. The reality is; people want to know what you know for sure: and what you don’t. Having the confidence to say “I don’t know” is a powerful skill. I see it as not just a skill to you as leader, but a virtue and goodwill. It will only enable your followers to realise your imperfection and the need for them to support and complement your effort.

This discussion is a bit tricky as some people think leaders who are overly aggressive in their communication and/or leadership style have strong confidence. Thinking differently, leaders with excessive aggressiveness are thought to be bullies. Interestingly, people of strong confidence do have to be unjustifiably aggressive to accomplished task. Ironically, being overly aggressive is a sign of lack of confidence, not having confidence. On the whole, when a leader displays confidence, it makes it easier to trust that leader, and people want to work with leaders they trust. Self-confidence can be defined as the knack to determine one’s proficiency and skills. It includes a sense of self-esteem and self-assurance and the belief that one can make a difference.

It is not enough to always be overly aggressive and be on the offensive while making public speech, as body language expert has proof such is a sign of lack of confidence in a leader. According to Patti Wood, a body language expert’s;Trump hands positioning in prayer mood during the recent face to face meeting with President Obama is a sign of lack of confidence as he came to terms with the task ahead. This is contrary to his I know it all and aggressive altitude he exhibited during his campaign speech.
According to Business Matter: When it comes to leadership attributes, competency was considered the most important. Being a good communicator was next, with trustworthiness rated as the third most important attribute. A good leader has the self-confidence to embody all these attributes. However, not every leader is naturally confident: some are very shy and have had to work hard to develop their self-confidence and succeed.

For instance, let us examine Sir Terry Leahy, the former boss of Tesco, Britain’s largest retailer and one of the most successful leaders in British business in recent times. He describes himself as, ‘quite shy and not overly confident’. Yet in spite of his lack of confidence, Leahy grew Tesco’s market share in the UK from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in his 13 years at the helm, expanded the brand overseas and annual pre-tax profits cleared the £1bn, £2bn and £3bn marks in succession. Leahy believes that leadership skills can be developed, but that confidence is essential in terms of garnering support from others. In a recent interview he commented: “Everyone has the ability to step forward and be a leader in a certain situation but to do that they have to believe in the organisation and know that if they do step forward they will be supported.”

Naturally, everybody has that leadership qualities in them, nobody will noticed such qualities until you step out of your comfort zone. You are the best person to assess your strong and weak point as leader. Knowing your weak point will enable you to learn and develop your skills and improve your confidence that will help you to excel in your leadership position.


Peter Barron Stark provides 8 signs of leader that lacks confidence as follows:

1. Praising others is difficult: When you lack confidence in your own abilities to succeed, it is difficult to recognise 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 recognising others for their achievements.

2. 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.

3. 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 organisation. Withholding information only creates confusion and breeds mistrust.

4. 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 criticise 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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 analysing 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.

8. Go the safe route: When you’re paralysed 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.

It is understood from the above discussion, that possessing self-confidence is an added advantage to people in leadership position. In our next series, we shall discuss ways  leaders can improve their confidence for effective results. Your opinion and feedback is appreciated on the comment column. Do you like the piece? Always good to share.


Victor Imhangbe

Hey, there! I am Victor Imhangbe and I am the brain behind this great lifestyle blog where you get to read everything from life to education to fashion and pretty much about everything else. I invite you to keep keeping tab on our latest news and updates!

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