Clues You Are A Confident Leader

Until confidence is tested, we are unaware of our lack. Crisis creates the opportunity for leaders to develop a critical leadership competency: confidence.  It’s self-assurance in your ability to address the crisis and the belief that you can rely on others to help meet the challenge. But, how do we know confidence when we see it?

Signs of Confidence

We’ve discussed what confidence is not. Let’s explore authentic confidence that rises from both self-assurance and confidence in our faith as followers of Jesus. If you look around at people you describe as confident, you might see behaviors like:

  • Calming tone of voice
  • Speaking positive yet truthful words
  • Demonstrating body language that says, “I’m listening and I value your ideas”
  • Stepping forward intentionally even in the face of uncertainty
  • Admitting mistakes and seeing to move forward
  • Showing grace when others make missteps 
  • Articulating the reality of the situation
  • Offering hope beyond the current circumstances
  • Communicating consistently and frequently
  • Inviting perspectives, especially differing ones
  • Knowing personal strengths and addressing weaknesses
  • Responding gently when confronted
  • Showing respect for others
  • Studying what others are doing to manage the crisis
  • Standing firm on values and beliefs
  • Affirming and acknowledging others
  • Breaking the tension with a little humor

Consider confidence as not a trait you possess, but rather a skill you practice over and over and over. Every time you feel a lack of confidence, it is your window of opportunity to develop this necessary leadership skill. What aspect of confidence do your people need from you right now? That’s the one to practice.

Impact of Confidence

When you practice confidence, sometimes you will get it right and other times you will need to step back and try again. That’s the grand leadership experiment. As you demonstrate genuine confidence, you will see a shift in those around you. Your confidence will …

Build influence.  Demonstrating confident behaviors gets attention. Even if you simply start with a calming smile, it invites people to tune into what you are saying. You are building relational capital with peers, managers, team members and others who experience the impact of your ministry. 

Create momentum. Confidence is contagious. Your confidence is an invitation for others to join in. A gift you share with those around you. Rather than fearing the reality of the crisis, they begin to face it and find hope because of your confidence.

Inspire action. Choosing a confident posture will open your  mind to possibilities that might be missed. Even if you don’t “feel” confident, as you begin to choose behaviors that demonstrate confidence, it draws others out of fear into the creative thinking mindset needed to address the crisis at hand.

Initiate learning. Practice is one of the best ways to learn. Practice requires opportunity. In crisis, we have plenty of opportunities to practice our confidence in the way we lead. Stepping back and intentionally choosing to try out a new skill and then evaluate how effective it was initiates the cycle of learning that grows confidence. 

“The moment you stop learning, you stop leading”

~Rick Warren, Pastor Saddleback Church

In a crisis, is confidence enough?

While confidence is a critical leadership competency, I would pose that it is not sufficient. Our next series will explore more conversations about other leadership competencies that can come into play in a crisis. What other leadership skills have you seen leaders practice during times of crisis and change? Comment below. 

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

2 Comments

  1. Heidi Lewerenz on June 17, 2020 at 7:49 pm

    Such great truths! Thank you for leading the way with these ideas. 🙂 One of the hardest things for me as a leader is to continue to hold the vision of the future when the “messy middle” of crisis is so demanding or debilitating. And to lead well, we need to do both!

    • Annie Perdue Olson on June 17, 2020 at 8:14 pm

      I love your concept of the “messy middle”. Too often that’s exactly what it feels like. But, that’s the place where we really grow into our future!

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