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Leadership Qualities: The Most Important Leadership Quality – Self Confidence

Leadership is HOT right now. We all strive to be better leaders, whether in our work, or in our business. If we are not leading, we are following and most people have negative connotations about being a “follower”. For instance, a manager could be described as a follower, because they just take orders from the leaders, right? Well, kind of right.

Leader vs Manager

  • A leader is always at the helm, and the manager is at the helm of his/her own tribe, but ultimately guided by a leader
  • A leader has a tribe and does not have their own leader. A manager has a tribe and also has a leader
  • A leader empowers the right managers who in turn will empower their teams, who in turn will do a great job
  • A manager knows how to do things right, a leader knows the right things to do
  • A leader works towards a vision. A manager shares that vision and also works towards it
  • A manager is great at efficiency; a leader knows the importance of effectiveness

Leadership Qualities & Traits

Leaders need an unlimited amount of traits and personality qualities to excel. Some are hard-wired ancestrally or since birth. There are thousands of webpages and blogs dedicated to listing those traits.

Leadership skills can be learned, mostly in the school of life, work and hard knocks. There is a great resource of blogs dedicated to leadership on Tweak Your Biz.

Leadership Quality No.1 – Self-Confidence

Self-Confidence as a leadership quality is rather broad. But to me, a leader exudes and emanates empowerment, empathy, passion and vision.

  • It’s a combination of the ability to deliver vocally, be influential, possess a sense of presence, and deliver decisions with conviction
  • A leader will confidently make a decision, follow it through, stand by their decision, and admit they are wrong, when they are wrong
  • A leader will take a risk, confident that without mistakes, there is little growth potential
  • A leader will be self-aware and surround themselves with people who are better than they are, because they know they are not there to do the thing, their top managers are
  • The ability to make tough decisions provides authority, and instills confidence in the tribe
  • A leader will have a mentor or peer they can sound ideas, fears and doubts with, because they know they don’t know it all, in fact they do not need to know it all

Self-confidence is at the crux of everything we do. Leaders evolve from every race, denomination, and corner of the world. There is a huge gender imbalance in leadership, and the business world is endeavouring to improve that imbalance.

  • However, there have been statistics made, and quotas set. Is that really the way to rectify an imbalance in anything?
  • Sometimes it takes a brave challenge to question this and perhaps categorically claim “empowering women doesn’t work
  • We had similar quotas imposed on South African organisations with the disbanding (due to democratic elections) of apartheid in 1994

Where does leadership and confidence come in here? It takes a leader like Nelson Mandela to see beyond discrimination, pain and personal experience to have vision, and the confidence to do something about it.

Leaders can be famous or be within your local community, driving a vision, and confidently making a difference.

Do you agree that self-confidence is an important quality of Leadership? Have you an experience of self-confidence in action that you would like to share with us? Tell us in a comment below.

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Elaine Rogers is a Business Trainer, Coach and Writer. She takes pain away. She helps soothe the rough and tumble of running a business through education, information and coaching. And a bit of entertainment. Elaine hangs out at The Smart Train She provides online training and coaching solutions in the areas of MS Office Skills, Business Skills, and Soft Skills. She also provides exclusive content for her ever growing email list.

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  • Martin Lindeskog

    Yes, I agree that self-confidence is an important quality of leadership. I studied organizational leadership (B. Sc. – Business Administration) at Southern New Hampshire University, between 1997 – 2000. If you are interested in this topic, I recommend you to check out the works by Dr. Edwin A. Locke. For example: Handbook of Principles of Organizational Behavior.

  • Can not disagree that self confidence is important, but unshakable belief is crucial and the ability to accept mistakes and learn from them. Interesting post Elaine, but then they always are.

  • Hello Martin,
    That sounds like a very interesting specific area of study. And thank you kindly for sharing the recommendation. I will be checking it out!

  • Great point John, and I believe unshakable belief comes from (true) self confidence, as in confidence in self. I suppose I mean self esteem also needs to be very high before anything great can happen.
    Thanks for great comment! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Elaine – self-confidence, along with strong sense of certainty, significance, and connection to who you are as a leader are indeed important. Guess I’m one of those who will not agree to posit differences in manager v. leader. I’ve often seen the need for the roles to be somewhat situationally dependent. Love your examples, as always.

  • Well if we didn’t have both, we would only have leaders or followers. And we know how interesting things can get with too many chiefs (or cooks) Very often managers are working on a day to day basis. They need guidance and direction from a good leader (which may even be their own manager).
    Great to have you contribute Warren, as always.

  • Uniqueness is what makes the world go round, it allows many businesses selling similar products or services. people buy from people, and the experience we receive as a buyer determines our purchase. A great leader will know this and use their intuition and empathy to drive that business to success.
    Great comment, thank you Barbara, glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Elish Bul

    Thanks for that – So relevant to keep stressing the difference between Leaders and Managers – Vision is such a gift and not to be taken for granted- the big picture and the historic are serious skills to be spotted in would be leaders. here is A question Elaine?
    Do you think Leaders are Born or can be Made?

  • I think skills and knowledge can be learned well if willing. Charisma and that “je ne sais quoi” is developed along with influence over the early years, and further developed into “leadership skills” very naturally. My own experience is that I am more “wooed” by a natural leader than one that has been through the paces out of necessity.
    But in this world, thankfully we are all still very human, and our uniqueness makes us special leaders in our own right.
    Passion is hard to hide, when one is passionate, it is easier and more natural to “bring” others along, on that journey. This includes business.
    Interestingly, reading the Steve Jobs biography by Isaacson dispelled my understanding that Jobs was a great leader. In fact he was often very cruel to those around him, but no mistaking his passion and vision, and this allowed him to “bring” others along and help build his dreams. It will be interesting to see if Cook really shares that passion to the same extent.
    What is your experience Elish?

  • Interesting Elaine, your comments about Jobs, after reading the book I am not at all sure I could have worked with the guy and yet he was so passionate about what he did. But a real bastard, when he decided he wasn’t happy with something. I am not sure that he didn’t have some kind of Tourettes.

    I believe people are born with a blank canvas and it is their autobiographical influences that make the differences. Bounce, a great book by Matthew Syed explores this, using Beckham, Tiger Woods, Beethoven and many more as examples.
    When he researched these child prodigies he discover a common link, the fact was that all had an influence in their lives that encouraged a love of and helped the child develop an intrinsic motivation to succeed in their chosen discipline. This autobiographical influence was always in place at a very early age.
    I believe this to be the case in all children and their development as people into adulthood. Leadership is one such quality.

  • Hi John,
    I have to agree with you about Jobs, if he liked you, you were treated with utmost respect, but if he didn’t, then watch out… At least that is the impression I get from Isaacson’s book. Still a great read though!
    That’s a great recommend of a book, thanks for sharing that with us. I also agree that the influences we gather throughout our early life have a direct impact on how we perceive the world and our role within it. It also heavily influences our work ethic, and that need for success.
    However, I do think sometimes an addiction or compulsive need for success can come from negative experiences that result in narcissism and related ‘need for attention or to be in the limelight” but some famous and/or very successful people just want to make a difference.
    It’s our individualism that allows us all to exist and co-exist 🙂

  • Elish Bul

    I think the Leaders have come to love are probably nurtured into existence at an early age and exude passion, charisma and missionary zeal intuitively. There is a certain lack of ego in the sense that they have no fear f Fialure or embarrassment and are willing to sacrifice short termism for the long term goal.

  • Olwen, great article with excellent suggestions by Orlaith. Can I ask as I had not heard of the phrase before, what is a ‘pinch point’ – how would you define it? Leaving that aside, the article provides great suggestions on managing growing pains. I am a big fan of lean startup principles and I think the twin ideas of closing engaging with customers and being prepared for mini failures so that you can learn how to build your business by clarifying your business model would fit neatly into this list of suggestions.

  • Ha! Olwen, I like your point about “the knowing…and the not-knowing.” Ain’t it the truth? And ultimately I’d argue it leads to most of the other challenges we face. This is the real reason for a plan. Because if you can’t envision your business as it should be, or as you think it should be, you’ll forever allow your uncertainties to lead you in circles. Thanks to Sian for sharing this with the BizSugar community.

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