The Discipline of Confidence

Confidence to move people and situations is the essence of good leadership. The term ‘confidence’ is understood differently by different people. If we should ask a group of ten people to define ‘confidence’ they will probably all differ in their definitions. We equate confidence with trust in the ability to move barriers to potential and excellence. We all experience confidence in certain areas of our life where we succeed in incurring movement of barriers or obstacles in our way. But confidence is an amazingly brittle possession and often slides in or out of our attitudes like a blob of mercury in our hand.

The Oxford Dictionary provides several definitions of confidence. These include ‘A firm trust’, ‘A feeling of reliance or certainty’, ‘A sense of boldness’, and ’self-assurance’. Perhaps we can arrive at an acceptable understanding of this thing called ‘confidence’ by looking more closely at some of its elements or components.

How does true confidence feel?

As you read the following concepts on leadership confidence, you may also reflect on the many counterfeits of real confidence that we are exposed to all the time.

Defining some of the feelings associated with confidence

It has a personal component – trust in self

Our leadership confidence to move situations and people around us is directly in proportion to our trust in whom and what we are. Who are we? What does the poet William Wordsworth mean when he writes that we come from God trailing clouds of glory? What does it mean to have a divine potential? What are our talents?  To build confidence we need to invest in our spiritual heritage. We need humility.

It has a situational trust component

Leadership confidence is accompanied by a sense of belief that we can move negative barriers to potential no matter what situations we are involved in. Our confidence can take a rapid dive when we are rocked by situations that threaten us. To build situational confidence we need to develop an abiding trust in our attitude towards all situations around us.

It has a trust in consequence component

This is a feeling that the consequences or results of our actions will be positive. If we believe that the negative consequences arising out of a situation will outweigh the positive consequences then our confidence will fade. This is why vision and a sense of overall context are so important.

It has a belonging component

Our deepest instinct to belong is assured by our sense of faith and confidence. When our instinct to belong is threatened then our confidence may take a bruising. When our leadership actions are perceived to be project focused more than people focused then the sense of belonging may be threatened and performance may falter.

It has a possession component

Our deepest instinct to possess ‘something of real value’ is inherent in real confidence. This feeling does not necessarily rely on material possessions only. This is why a sense of being united in common worthwhile values is so important in building real confidence.

It has a trust in process component

This principle ties in with the above components of confidence. Real confidence is accompanied by a feeling that we can trust the process that we are using to accomplish the required results. When we do not trust the processes (system, method, model, etc.) we use to achieve the required results, then real confidence slips away and is replaced by counterfeit feelings of arrogance, anger, frustration or resentment.

It has a believed values component

Our believed values are an imperative of all our actions. Confidence embraces a feeling that we are true to our believed positive values. This is the source of calmness of spirit, patience under pressure and work enjoyment.

It has a believed heritage component

Confidence instinctively orientates towards an appreciation of our positive traits of character, faith in our divine heritage and our history of precious experiences. Confidence does not leave our heritage of character and convictions behind; it embraces the good things in us.

Confidence is a humble feeling of order and control, a sense of passion and commitment

Supporting elements of confidence:

  • Confidence is synonymous with a positive (seamless) attitude
  • Confidence is synonymous with courage
  • Confidence is synonymous with a high degree of peace of mind
  • Confidence is synonymous with making contact, connecting with people and situations, and generally being friendly and sociable in a positive manner
  • Confidence is synonymous with generating movement in people and situations
  • Confidence is synonymous with a sense of destiny where all good things are possible
  • Confidence is synonymous with a strong and abiding faith in universal principles emanating from the divine in and around us

Imperatives involved in developing confidence

As we look at the above elements of leadership confidence, we need to be aware of the universal process that is required for us to master this kind of confidence. At Leadership Platform we call this process the Destiny Chain (as a component of Movement Dynamics):

  1. Courage to define situations honestly
  2. Courage and honesty to confront negative expectations
  3. Courage and desire to conceptualise positive consequences after step 2
  4. Courage and desire to commit to positive aspirations
  5. Courage to formulate plans to achieve aspirations
  6. Courage to organise supporting structure
  7. Courage to evaluate progress and act tough where required.

Our research and extensive leadership experience and contact with top leaders vouch for the conviction that we cannot jump the links in the above process and expect to possess real confidence. It simply does not work that way. The many counterfeits of real confidence are all too keen to jump in and dominate our feelings and values.

This article appeared in the:

The Workplace




Louis has been fanatically endeavoring to uncover universal leadership principles and models for longer than most of us have been alive. He is an author, leadership expert, father, grandfather, and the Co-Founder of Leadership Platform.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022

Follow Us

Leadership Platform is a specialist leadership development consultancy, focusing on creating measurable impact to the bottom line through the enhancement of leadership understanding and engagement.


By subscribing you will be updated with the latest insights and news from us. We never spam.