In theory leadership is easy – so long as you have ample resources, time and support. Of course, in practice, leadership is anything but easy… especially when you don’t have enough resources, time and support.
It is often touted leaders need confidence.
Having worked in places such as Iraq and stood in the shadows of great leaders like Nelson Mandela, I’d go so far as to say confidence is one of the more commonly overvalued commodities that exists.
Confidence is important but unjustified confidence that encourages people to believe they are 10 feet tall and bullet proof can, literally, cost lives.
What really matters – especially in a leadership role – is the capacity to do what need to be done, even when you have doubts and circumstances seem beyond your control. That type of confidence is a highly valuable commodity and only comes from a mindset that embraces diversity, challenge and a willingness to learn and improve.
An example of this played out when I was hired by an international financial services company to work with a group of their rising stars. In addition to group discussions part of this particular event included some sea-kayaking (just for something different).
For the first hour of paddling everything went according to plan. Then a massive storm rolled in and within minutes we lost visual contact with the land and our safety vessel.
My co-facilitator, a former Olympic rower, instructed everyone to tie their kayaks together to form a type of nautical conga line.
What unfolded was fascinating: clear and discernible “clusters” of response among the rowers. One cluster was doing their best to follow the Olympian’s advice to “paddle twice on the right, once on the left!”
Another cluster was more interested in complaining and allocating blame. One individual was overwhelmed and became dead weight. There was, however, another category— the ultra confident.
Eventually, the storm passed and we made it on to terra firma. As I was talking to the Olympian, one ofthe confident types slapped me on the shoulder and said: “I know what you were trying to do! You were pretending to be scared to make us scared. Well, you didn’t fool me!”
I wasn’t pretending. I was scared. But I wasn’t the most scared. That title went to the Olympian. Why? Because he understood the real and very significant dangers we faced.
To navigate stormy waters takes more than confidence. The challenges faced by big and small business comes with the courage to make big decisions founded on more than a believed confidence things will work out.
Of the last 100 client briefs I’ve received I’d say at least 85 have focused on a common objective: to improve the resilience of individuals and the collective strength of teams… effective team members don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, they just have to be smart enough to share their knowledge and experience without fearing someone else will steal their glory.