Stan Ward, Ph.D.
Dean, Capstone Studies and Director, Center for Action Research
Claremont Lincoln University
What does it take to become a more confident leader? Much has been made of the importance of things like emotional intelligence and practices like mindfulness and authentic leadership. In addition to these, I’ve found a three-step process that benefits both individual leaders and their organizations.
First, leaders need to know their strengths. Your strengths are those character qualities and skills that serve you well when you are under pressure. When you use these strengths on a regular basis, you feel fully engaged in your work – what some people describe as a state of “flow.” There are a variety of assessment tools available to help leaders identify their strengths, such as the Clifton Strengthsfinder and the Via Institute’s character strengths assessment.
Second, leaders need to identify and correct liabilities. Everyone has weaknesses, but there is a significant difference between a “weakness” and a “liability.” Liabilities are those weaknesses that actually hurt you. For example, if you are an engineer who is not good at math, that is probably a liability. On the other hand, if you teach creative writing, your daily work probably does not demand for you to excel at high-level computations.
Third, leaders need to make peace with their weaknesses. The parts of our lives that are simply “less than ideal,” and they do not necessarily prevent us from being effective change agents in our organizations and communities are what I call “weaknesses.” They don’t hurt us like liabilities do. To be more confident as a leader, we must make peace with those limitations. To do so, we must develop the skill of distinguishing between “paper tigers” (things that look threatening, but don’t really hurt us) and “real tigers” (things that look threatening and really do hurt us). By distinguishing between paper tigers and real tigers, leaders can be more present for those they work with and less prone to fight or flight responses.
For more thoughts on becoming a more confident leader, see this blog post from Claremont Lincoln University. Three Essentials to Becoming a More Confident Leaders Part 1 – and Three Essentials to Becoming a More Confident Leader Part 2. To learn more about leadership development at Claremont Lincoln University and our fully-online masters degrees, click here.