Lead With A Bold Confidence
October 11, 2010
Over the last two decades of my life as a leader, one of the labels I have consistently been given is arrogant. While I would never consider myself humble, I also would never consider myself arrogant. Unfortunately many, in the business and church world, mistake bold confidence for arrogance. Is there as difference? Yes!
Marcus Buckingham, a renowned business leader, author, consultant, and researcher says it best; “If you are going to lead, you better have a deep-seated belief that you should be at the helm, dragging everyone into that better future… Virtually nothing about a leader is humble. I’m not saying they are arrogant, but their claims are big.” Buckingham said successful leaders must find a “universal truth” to rally their followers. These universal truths stem from the basic human needs, fears and desires that unite all people, across all cultures. They also happen to be great tools for leadership. The chief responsibility of a leader, for example, "is to rally people for a better future. If you are a leader, you better be unflinchingly, unfailingly optimistic. No matter how bleak his or her mood, nothing can undermine a leader's belief that things can get better, and must get better. I believe you either bring this to the table or you don't.
Having a bold confidence is living out loud. It is the ability to walk in the opposite direction instead of following popular opinion. It is quiet power and most of all, in the Christian world, a deep trust in God’s calling and direction for your life and leadership. It is easy to see how someone could mistake bold confidence for arrogance. When you know what you know, you don’t have to impress anyone. You understand how to just be. Nehemiah was such a man.
Nehemiah had a bold confidence in the calling God placed on his life. He walked into a very bad situation in Jerusalem and turned everything around in 52 days. His desire was to enact change in the midst of desperation and decay. Nehemiah had to have a bold confidence. No one would follow a man who had no confidence in the future and dogged determination that he could change things.
Think about it this way. You are about to go into battle and take a hill that no one has been able to take. Dozens of soldiers have already lost their lives trying to take the hill and now it was your turn. The Sergeant leading the charge is cowering behind the sand bags and turns to the troops and apologizes for getting them in this mess. He is uncertain, captivated by fear, and not sure he wants to move. What would your response be? Would it not mimic the attitudes of the leader?
Same scenario, different leader: He is fearful, but bold. He has a swagger and confidence that can be seen and felt among the troops. He has a belief that the hill can be taken, but is realistic about the cost. The major difference with this leader is his willingness to lead the charge and a winning optimism. Who would you rather follow?
Arrogance and confidence are not the same. Arrogance is a supreme belief in yourself, an attitude of superiority, self-importance and pride. Confidence is really more of a belief, a state of being, which involves faith and trust. Can confidence turn into arrogance? Without a doubt.
If we are to change our culture, whether it be business, or spiritual, we need leaders to step up to the plate and lead with a bold confidence. That confidence comes from a sober understanding of who you are, the calling God has placed on your life, and a dogged determination to guide people into a better future.
Let me leave you with three great quotes:
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”--T.S. Eliot
“Remember, a dead fish can float down a stream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream."--W.C. Fields
“You need to play with supreme confidence or else you’ll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit.”--Joe Paterno, head football coach at Penn State University
 “Good Managers Focus on Employees’ Strengths, Not Weaknesses” http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=1223