4 Practical Insights to Strengthen Your Confidence As a Leader

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What comes first confidence or competence?

What sustains leadership confidence?

What breaks it down?

Any confident leader who is honest about it, will tell you that he or she has moments or seasons where their confidence has taken a hit. The question is what can we do about it?

It’s similar to a professional baseball player. They understand the game, they know how to hit, but they’re in a batting slump. It’s when that batting slump gets in their head that more complex issues begin.

Confidence in what you can do is different than confidence in who you are. You can’t separate the two, but confidence in who you are must always take first place. Click & Tweet!

If confidence is gained primarily through doing things right and achieving success, what happens to your confidence when you don’t do things just right?

If you are leading and making progress toward the goal (vision), you are out in front. When you’re out in front you’re in new territory and engaging new problems. Therefore, you’ll make mistakes as you figure out how to do things at new levels (league of play) that you’ve never done before.

All of that can challenge your confidence.

There is a great measure of confidence that comes from experience and competence in your leadership skills, but the important distinction is whether your sustained confidence comes from your ability or your identity.

It’s common among leaders to lean into ability first, and we strive to become better. The challenge is that if we base our confidence first on what we can do, (ability), rather than who we are, (identity), the first time you strike out, mess up or fail, your confidence crashes.

Self-doubt can then steal your confidence, and you begin to second-guess yourself.

Think about a child learning to walk or ride a bike, they must first believe they can, before they actually do. They believe from something within them that they can do it, and therefore keep trying until they can. And if they fall, they get back up and try again.

The child who exclaims to their parents “I can’t!” is like the pro baseball player who allowed the batting slump to get in his head.

The goal is to focus on identity first as you develop your ability through practice and gain experience. Each time you step up to the plate, take a swing and hit the ball, the greater your confidence becomes. Keep practicing.

When your confidence is based on who you are, over what you can do, and you fail, you know that you are not a failure as a person. You possess the strength to look yourself in the mirror and face the fact that you failed in that particular experience alone, without feeling like a failure. Then you can figure out what is needed to grow as a leader. In essence, get back up to the plate and keep swinging.

Before we jump into a few practical thoughts, let me mention that my book Confident Leader may be very helpful to you and your team.

Confident Leader a practical book exploring a biblical foundation, strength of character, and practical skills for sustained leadership confidence, even in the tough times. You can find it here.

There is a great measure of confidence that comes from experience and competence in your leadership skills, but the important distinction is whether your sustained confidence comes from your ability or your identity. Click & Tweet!

4 Practical Insights to Strengthen Your Confidence as a Leader

1) Pay attention to what rattles your confidence, that provides insight to strengthen your confidence.

What rattles your confidence more, something personal like conflict, being embarrassed, or rejection? Or is it more like delivering a talk that didn’t land well or leading a ministry project that didn’t work like you hoped or failed?

One is more a matter of the soul and may need a counselor and the other a matter of skill, requiring a good coach.

Your confidence as a leader can always be strengthened if you know where to start, ask for help and remain intentional.  

Your level of confidence as a leader is a dynamic process. Don’t expect it to be perfectly stable, we all have moments of doubt. It’s how quickly we can process, grow and move through the doubt that matters.

2) What you believe shapes how you lead and the consistency of your confidence.

There are two foundational beliefs that greatly affect the level and consistency of your confidence as a leader:

  • Believing that God is with you.
  • Believing in yourself.  

Believing that God is with you is not referring to your salvation and eternal life in heaven. It’s believing that God is actually present and with you in your leadership of the church. (Or a particular ministry within the church.)

It’s about you believing that God sees and knows what is going on, that you are not on your own, and His Spirit is within you.  

Believing in yourself and your leadership is essential because if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will either.

I have personally experienced that in my own moments or seasons of doubt, someone believing in me makes all the difference. I’m sure it would with you as well.

3) Resilience within your character gives you strength to keep going.

  • Resilience is that part of your character that allows you to keep going when the going gets tough and to recover quickly from challenging circumstances.
  • Resilience is the ability to handle pressure well while solving problems and making progress.
  • Resilience is that inner reserve that allows you to sustain unanswered questions, unresolved problems and an unknown future.

Your resilience as a leader is largely determined by a combination of the environments you’re in, the people you are closest to, and together they determine the pressure you can sustain.

We all spend the vast majority of our lives in only two environments, home and work. The healthy or unhealthy nature of both have a major impact on our resilience. The people you are closest to either contribute to a greater or poorer state of health in those environments.

Make wise choices and invest well in the people closest to you and the environments where you live and work.

Your resilience as a leader is largely determined by a combination of the environments you’re in, the people you are closest to, and together they determine the pressure you can sustain. Click & Tweet!

4) Confidence requires practice and experience to lead larger and farther.

With the first three points serving as a foundation, we can address the obvious relevance of competence and its relationship to confidence.

When a batter is getting on base, hitting some doubles, triples and even a few homeruns, that is a tremendous boost to confidence.

Some leadership competence is natural, but most of it comes from diligent practice of skills that you can’t do until you can.

You can practice on your own, and you may need the help of a good coach, but growth always starts with two things:

  • Your passion and desire to pay the price
  • Identifying exactly what skill you need and want to improve.

What skill are you practicing?

Some leadership competence is natural, but most of it comes from diligent practice of skills that you can’t do until you can. Click & Tweet!