Certainty is a tricky leadership concept, particularly in the face of rampant change. However, confident leaders who operate from a strong foundation of authenticity waiver not on these three beliefs. Whether these are beliefs every successful leader truly shares has not been scientifically studied. Anecdotal evidence does suggest that out of those who struggle, experience employee unrest or conflict, feel at times as if they should quit, or question whether their actions equate to the right action being taken, the leaders who believe these three key bits of wisdom struggle less, are easier on themselves, and deal with less stress in day to day leadership. One or more of these might be worth a moment of time and minimal effort if that is the desired direction.
Even as a well-heeled, tenured, veteran, seasoned, or experienced leader, however one might describe a given level of expertise, learning is always a part of the growing process. Leaders who succeed are constantly learning new things. They are always hiring new team members about which they need to learn new information. They are often adding divisions, possibly buying new companies, working with new colleagues, facing new environments, and in need of facing, if not remembering, the fact, that they don’t know everything. Intellectually of course, every leader knows this bit of wisdom. Emotionally, the toll of repeatedly finding reasons to question one’s value can be taxing. A high level of confidence in one’s ability to rapidly assimilate new information and learn enough to then be able to hire someone incredibly smart in the new or unknown area, will thwart off the temptation to think that new equals painful. New can be exciting; exhilarating even, when viewed as another opportunity to learn something.
Change certainly does foster learning, so there’s that leadership learning nugget. However, a leader motivated to check tasks off the list, finish with this already, and get stuff #%@$ done, may struggle with the fact that change is ever present. The fact that elements change in a workplace on a weekly, daily, hourly, and in some organizations, moment by moment basis, is not new, not short lived, and not going away. Change is not a phase. Some would say that if a leader or person is not growing, they’re dying. That simple adage implies that one is constantly changing and thus in need of constant new information, but that feels awfully daunting. Many new skills overlap. Many changes will begin to feel like the same ole rodeo, just in a different year. So, while change is not a phase, the skills to handle change can be learned and then reapplied time after time. The benefit of certainty in this belief stems from the leader’s confidence in being able to handle, flex, address, and modify their existing skills in order to effectively thrive in a changing environment.
A leader only need hire one or two team members before this belief becomes a blinding flash of the obvious. Leaders and all team members speak the trite saying of “pobody’s nerfect” frequently and yet still strive for perfection or hold expectations based on that desired future state. Holding one’s breath waiting for perfection could be fatal. It’s unattainable. People are imperfect beings. Differences in people do not equate to the need to become a babysitter. Their differences and employee conflict that results from those differences will at times be frustrating. One person’s imperfections may be precisely what their best, and the leader’s largest, client finds utterly endearing. People are imperfect and people includes leaders. Embrace the imperfection and find ways to learn how to be flexible while inspiring growth in what is perceived or believed to be deficiencies. Be confident in the fact that people will always surprise, fascinate, challenge, and grow, one’s leadership. Any belief that expects perfection will only result in frustration.
Leadership confidence has been a hot topic recently and in some ways confidence, when seen in someone many believe is lacking any accompanying skill, is starting to get a bad connotation. Leadership confidence is not bravado and often not even spoken. Leadership confidence comes from knowing who one is, remaining authentic to one’s own values and beliefs, and staying aware of the reality that learning is always needed because things are always changing, and as a result, people, in their own imperfection and varying degrees of confidence, are constantly responding to the stress caused by both. It really all does work together, much as do all the skills needed to effectively provide leadership.
Known as a leadership adviser, Monica Wofford, CSP is the CEO of training firm Contagious Companies and a popular keynote speaker. She is also the author of Contagious Leadership and Make Difficult People Disappear, and a discerning Executive Coach. Monica may be reached at www.ContagiousCompanies.com, www.MonicaWofford.com or by calling 1-866-382-0121.