A confident leader in times of uncertainty is the glue that holds teams together when they face challenges. But many leaders confuse confidence for certainty, hence creating a restrictive work environment where new and innovative ideas don’t have any room. Here’s what you need to know about being a confident leader and how you can avoid the pitfalls of overconfidence.
Confidence vs. certainty
Confidence is important for leadership because it helps you gain the trust of your team, and with their trust, comes cohesion and concentrated efforts towards reaching common goals. Confident leadership in times of uncertainty also gives your team members the confidence they need to give it their maximum and make sure your company has the best chance of meeting its objectives.
We want to follow confident leaders; confidence is good. But be mindful of the certainty you project because certainty is not inviting. A poll of over one million workers found that 75% of employees cited a bad relationship with leadership as one of the main reasons for quitting. Don’t mistake certainty for being the same thing as confidence because only confidence implies having an open mind which goes hand in hand with a growth mindset.
How to keep an open mind as a confident leader
Establish a strong line of communication with your team, having regular group meetings, one on ones, and an established system for circulating new ideas to the top. 28% of employees say that bad communication prevents them from delivering their work. The most important thing here is to create a safe space where there is room for feedback, criticism and where people do not to take things personally. As a leader, a competence you need to build is to think critically about your thinking and the points being made by others.
It’s far too easy for executives to surround themselves with like-minded people who agree with all of your ideas and never challenge your decisions. As comforting as this sounds, it creates an echo chamber that blinds you from the things you can’t see coming on your own. Avoid creating an echo chamber and allow your company to adapt and thrive to the constantly changing circumstances of our world.
Confidence pitfalls and how you can avoid them
Another danger leaders need to look out for is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias is when you hold a certain opinion or belief and unconsciously confirm what you already think by only focussing on things that are agreeable with your thoughts. Effective leaders need to challenge their own thinking, both, inwardly by themselves and outwardly with the people they surround themselves with.
You might think that being challenged by people on your team is a sign that there is a lack of alignment or a challenge to your leadership, but on the contrary, not leaving room for criticism is an even bigger indicator that a leader lacks confidence. Leaving room for constructive criticism shows you really take the time to think things through and that you have considered the alternatives.
Avoiding confidence pitfalls:
- Keep an open mind
- Leave room for criticism by creating a safe space
- Establish an open line of communication
- Listen to your team
- Don’t create an echo chamber (risk of confirmation bias)
- Challenge your thoughts and decision process (think on your own thinking)
Challenge yourself with leadership coaching
Coaching is a valuable tool for leaders and teams. Nowhere else can you get a completely unbiased look at your thought process, team dynamics and leadership approach than with coaching. This can be a great opportunity to get the fresh insights you were looking for and come out of it with an actionable plan to improve your skills as a confident leader and inspire the people who work with you.