A Leader’s Strength–Balancing Confidence with Humility
One characteristic that is often used to describe a great leader is “confidence.” People love to follow and work with a confident leader. However, as is true with many of our strengths, there are possible blind spots that can hinder a leader’s effectiveness. The blind spot often associated with confidence is arrogance.
Confidence is Not Enough
While confidence in a leader is attractive, it can sow seeds of distrust in followers if it is overdone. When a leader is too confident, followers have trouble relating. You may appear as lacking authenticity if you are so confident in yourself that you exclude from contributing.
Author and speaker Tim Elmore states in his new book The 8 Paradoxes of Great Leadership, to be a great leader, you must be able to combine humility with your confidence. Humility signals self-awareness and authenticity. Confidence without humility breeds distrust; confidence with humility breeds credibility.
Dr. Elmore shares that your confidence makes your leadership believable, but humility makes your confidence believable. While confidence communicates energy and certainty, when you add humility, you communicate trustworthiness.
5 Ways to Practice Adding Humility to Your Confidence
If you want to demonstrate balancing humility and confidence, here are some suggestions from Dr. Elmore:
- When in decision-making meetings, argue as if you believe you are right, but listen as if you believe you are wrong.
- Remain teachable in new contexts, especially with those on your team. Don’t let your confidence prevent you from improving your own ideas.
- Don’t confuse confidence with certainty. You’ll frequently have to act without certainty. Even when uncertain, remain clear and transparent.
- Don’t let humility become sheepishness (we become preoccupied with our own weaknesses).
- When tempted to boast about what you have achieved, instantly turn your focus to a team member and brag about them. Let someone else do your boasting.
Humility is NOT Weakness
Great leaders know that humility is not weakness. Humility is a skill that secure leaders use to complement their strong and confident style. These leaders are not worried about their image. They know their value and that it isn’t about them. They have nothing to prove, nothing to lose, nothing to hide. The mission is what matters most.
Perry Holley is a coach and facilitator with the John Maxwell Company’s Corporate Solutions Group as well as a published author. He has a passion for developing others and seeing people grow into the leaders they were intended to become.