If you were to write down all of the traits a strong leader should have, you could create quite an impressive list. No matter what traits you write on that list, though, confidence needs to be at the very top of it. People don’t follow those who lack confidence. You can be the most technically competent individual in your respective field, but if you lack the confidence to back it up, you will not lead successfully. Interestingly, people are willing to follow leaders who may not have all the required technical competence, as long as that leader has confidence.
Here are some of the top characteristics that set strong and confident leaders apart from average leaders:
Confident leaders envision a positive outcome. They believe that they have the skills needed to figure it out, find the resources, build a team, and consistently deliver the desired results. Confident leaders truly believe they can make a difference in the world, and their positive vision allows them to lead positive conversations.
Admit what they don’t know
Leaders who have confidence are perfectly comfortable telling people that they don’t have all the answers. They are happy to tell others, “I don’t know the answer, or exactly what actions I should take, but I will find out.” Or, state, “I don’t know, but I know that we’ll be able to figure this out as a team.”
Talking too much is a common sign of lacking confidence. Confident leaders are comfortable choosing their words carefully to make their point, and are equally comfortable listening to others.
Ask more questions
Asking questions is a great way to signal to others that a) you don’t assume you already know the answer and, b) that you value the other person’s opinion. By asking questions, you not only educate yourself further, but you encourage others to step up and contribute their knowledge and ideas.
People who lack confidence are not comfortable giving credit and recognition where it is due. Confident leaders feel truly blessed with their life and find it easy to acknowledge the good work of others. They also have the ability to lift others up when they need it.
Are open to risks
Or, at least, calculated risks. Strong leaders confidently forge into the unknown, and learn from their mistakes. They are not safely mired on the sidelines, but, rather, spend their time in the thick of the play. Confident leaders believe they can successfully accomplish their goals, and pursue them regardless of uncertainty.
When confident leaders are complimented, they feel comfortable and worthy of accepting the compliment. Instead of discounting the compliment, they simply say, “Thank you for taking the time to share that positive feedback with me. It makes me feel good.” Confident leaders know that if they don’t feel worthy of praise, others will soon stop providing them with positive feedback.
Motivated by negative people
Confident people love to be told, “You can’t do that,” or “It won’t work here.” When confident people hear those words, it triggers the “Watch me!” response. Many confident people readily admit that they are where they are today because someone told them something could not be done.
In difficult or stressful situations, confident people have a knack for combining their positive vision with talking less and asking more questions. This is the exact opposite of what a leader lacking confidence does. At some point, you’ve probably worked with a leader who “lost it” in a difficult situation and said or yelled something that they later wish they hadn’t done. Asking questions and listening before you provide direction tends to have a calming effect in difficult situations, and is a whole lot more productive than yelling.
Because confident people believe they “can,” they set more goals, take decisive action, and get more things done. They don’t sit around wasting time second guessing themselves.
Leadership is hard. It’s just about impossible, however, if you don’t have the confidence to carry you through the tough decisions and circumstances leaders are faced with on a regular basis. If you don’t believe in yourself, why should the people who follow you do so? When people feel your confidence radiate, they are naturally inclined to trust you, and will more willingly invest their time, energy and loyalty to ensure that you and your team succeed.