Confidence is a belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance, full trust (  As a father of two young girls my wife and I often talk about how can we help our daughters grow up to be confident adults.  We believe this starts with building positive self-esteem. But, how do we foster their self-esteem while at the same time teaching them that there are rules, expected behaviors and that the world truly does not revolve around them. That is so difficult as a parent, because at the time they are born the world does revolve around that infant. They are fully dependent on us for their every need and we dedicate all our time to meeting those needs. If we continue this behavior as they grow and do not teach them to be independent, they will suffer as adults (not to mention we will suffer as parents of those children).  

As leaders we face a not too dissimilar tasks with those we lead. This is not to liken adult professionals to children it is only to draw similarities in the responsibility we hold as leaders and parents. This task of building up confidence in others is a requirement of any great leader. When I think about how to build confidence in others my mind immediately goes to how NOT to build confidence.  Why am I so quick to be able to rattle off what does not breed confidence? Well, that is because I know personally what demotivates me and undermines my confidence. Tearing others down, punishing failure, and berating others are just a few ways we can degrade not only the confidence of that person but the entire team.

Why is it when we flip to what DOES build confidence that we hesitate a bit? That is because we have to know a person (our staff) to understand how to motivate them. This is no different in my personal life. I have twins but they are both individuals, what builds confidence in one is the not the same for the other. So when we talk about building confidence in people on our teams we have to invest in knowing them first. Some people are motivated by being the best. Being the best builds their confidence and makes them work harder. Others are motivated by the purpose of their work and build confidence not by being the best but by working on things that really matter. For some confidence is built in being allowed to fail and try different solutions without feeling that you as the leader will judge them for taking risks.

Confidence cannot be bought, it cannot be demanded, it must be fostered. As leaders we have to invest in those we lead. The right level of confidence on a team has a direct impact on how that team functions and what they are able to deliver. As human beings I think we each struggle with confidence, at times we can feel less than confident about our abilities and at other times we can be over confident. Anytime as leaders we can be vulnerable to those we lead and show that we understand this struggle, the more authentic our relationships will be. Bill and I talk about this all the time, but the bottom line is you have to a relatable to be a great leader. Authentic relationships are what build strong alliances and allow those we lead to feel confident in what they do.

A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves – Lao Tzu





1 Comment

  1. Gary Gruber | Reply

    I often think of confidence in terms similar to how I think of KINDNESS. Here’s a short poem I wrote recently (55 words)
    Kindness does not have a price tag.
    It cannot be bought nor traded.
    One human being reaches out to another
    With love and compassion.
    Whether words of gratitude, appreciation or recognition,
    Or a selfless act of giving with no strings attached
    Being kind in one moment makes
    The world a brighter, better place.
    Your turn.

    Maybe kindness transmits confidence to another? Still thinking…..

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