In this first of a new series looking at three core pillars of leadership, I examine self-confidence in a leader and how to think about your strengths and weaknesses in this area.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”

General Douglas McArthur

Confidence. Consciousness. Compassion.

As you may know, for the past few years I’ve been regularly publishing a blog so I can share all the insights on leadership and lessons I’ve learnt from horses.

Now, the next stage is to gather them together into a guide to help people think about their leadership strengths and weakness and where they can improve (I’ll publish this as a weekly blog, then as an e-book at the end). 

Naturally, I’m going to base these around three pillars that I think are absolutely essential, (and which regular readers might have heard me mention before): confidence, consciousness and compassion.

I’ll look at each of these in detail and how they relate to the self, to others and to our environment. A natural place to start this series is confidence – it’s one of my favourite topics and something we work on a lot in our training courses. And the first area where confidence is critically important is the self. I’m sure we’ve all worked with leaders who were both full of self-confidence and also lacking, and it’s had a big impact on those around them.  

What does self-confident leadership mean?

Self-confidence is an attribute we associate with great leaders, but do we ever stop and think about what it really means and how to develop it as a skill? 

Self-confidence means being brave, not putting on a front, being arrogant or thinking you have nothing left to learn. So rather than having a ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ attitude, self-confident leadership is about being vulnerable and being yourself. 

You can’t hide who you are from horses, because they are intuitive enough to know when you aren’t genuine. While it’s not as obvious as with a horse, humans have instincts too which will eventually allow them to detect who is really confident and who is not.

Once, we had a training course here with a corporate team from a large bank. I had not told my facilitators who was who in the client’s team. So after the session, I challenged the facilitators to guess who was the team manager. They all picked the same person. Then, on checking the background information – we deliberately don’t read this before the course so as not to influence us – we found that someone else was the manager and this person we thought was the leader was in fact more junior. It really struck me that while they weren’t the leader on paper, the humans and horses alike were drawn to their quiet confidence. 

How do you stack up?

So, how do we know if we’re a self-confident leader? To assess your own confidence in leadership, try asking yourself the following questions:

·       Do you understand who you are and what you stand for?

·       Do you have the confidence to accept you are enough?

·       Do you know your strengths and the value you provide?

·       Do you accept your weaknesses and take steps to address them?

·       Are you confident enough to rely on others for support where needed?

To dig even deeper, you can also start trying some simple exercises. For example, list one or two things that you are scared of people knowing about you, or one or two fears that you have. Where does this fear come from? How does it impact your work?

Once you start to build you awareness of the areas of self-confident leadership that need improving, then you can take steps to improve. It’s a journey that will help you throughout your leadership career. 

All this and more will be covered in my upcoming eBook. If you’re interested in more information or receiving a copy when it’s released, follow me on here for further updates or email to be added to our mailing list.