7 Steps for Leadership Self-Confidence

One key factor in leadership success is self-confidence.  How can future leaders learn to demonstrate more of this?  Here are a few suggestions that I give leaders who have self-confidence issues.

1. Decide if you really want to be a leader. Many of the MBAs who report self-confidence issues are brilliant technicians. They often find the uncertainty and ambiguity of leading people very unsettling. They are looking for the “right answers” - similar to the ones in engineering school. In some cases, brilliant technical experts should continue to be brilliant technical experts - and not feel obligated to become managers.

2. Make peace with ambiguity in decision making. There are usually no clear right answers when making complex business decisions. Even CEOs are guessing.

3. Gather a reasonable amount of data, involve people, then follow your gut and do what you think is right.

4. Accept the fact that you are going to fail on occasion. All humans do.

5. Have fun! Life is short. Why should you expect your direct reports to demonstrate positive enthusiasm, if they don’t see it in you?

6. Once you make a decision, commit and go for it. Don’t continually second guess yourself. If you have to change course, you have to change course. If you never commit, all you will ever do is change course.

7. Demonstrate courage on the outside, even when you don’t feel it on the inside. We are all afraid on occasion — that is just part of being human. If you are going to lead people in tough times, you will need to show more courage than fear. When direct reports read worry and concern on the face of a leader, they begin to lose confidence in the leader’s ability to lead.

Life is good.





April 13, 2009 in New York City - IMS full day program

April 14, 2009 in Boston - Linkage: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There one day program

May 6, 2009 in Hanover, New Hampshire - Dartmouth one day program

May 11, 2009 in Chicago - Linkage OD Summit

June 16, 2009 in Chicago - Linkage: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There one day program

June 30, 2009 in Edinburgh - IMS full day program

July 1, 2009 in London - IMS full day program

July 2, 2009 in Manchester, England - IMS full day program

Tags: , , , ,

One Response to “7 Steps for Leadership Self-Confidence”

  1. kellythompson Says:

    Mr. Goldsmith,
    Great post. I have been studying leadership for a class at Vanderbilt University and have been using your book “What Got you Here Won’t Get You There” as a textbook. Throughout the semester we have been have been learning about women in leadership roles. In this post you discussed 7-steps for leaders to gain more self confidence. However,according to a 2001 Catalyst report, women generally have less confidence then males in leadership positions. This is partially due to the fact that gender stereotypes create different standards to evaluate women compared to similar male counterparts, making women more unsure about themselves. Have you found this to be true with the woman leaders you have worked with? If so, what additional suggestions about self confidence would you make to women?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.