The Most Important Ingredient

The most important ingredient for the recipe of great leadership, especially in today’s VICCAS – Variety, Interdependent, Complex, Changing, Ambiguous, Seamless – world is “Authentic Confidence”, which is more than just confidence or self-confidence.

It sounds so simplistic, but it’s not. It is simple though. You have to lead yourself towards Authentic Confidence…successfully. A faked confidence will no longer stand the test of time and everyday pressures. I believe the old adage of “fake it till you make it” needs to be challenged?

An initial and very obvious reason for Authentic Confidence is that leaders are more visible than ever before. So if you are not Authentically Confident in how you carry yourself you will be caught out.

Though important, this reason for Authentic Confidence being the most important ingredient of great leadership, pales in significance when compared with the deeper reason.

You simply cannot lead successfully in this fourth industrial revolution period when you haven’t accessed, embraced and unleashed that best part of you that’s buried underneath the surface. And that best part happens to be the leader in you and components of what makes a leader great. Anchor or root yourself in this – rather than in something false or superficial – and Authentic Confidence automatically follows.

Every single human being has a best part (patience, calmness, optimism, helpful, courageous, honest…) and of course a worst part (impatient, angry, pessimistic, selfish, fearful, dishonest…). In-between is an average – even neutral – part that borrows from the best and worst parts at times. One moment you are patient with a child yet another moment you are impatient. You have the courage to say no to a bribe yet you are fearful of confronting someone about an important matter. One meeting is run calmly yet another is filled with anger. You fluctuate all the time. Why is this? Could it be – partly – that you haven’t consciously committed to your best part?

In today’s VICCAS world a leader must draw from that best part more frequently; almost always. In fact, the leader must not only borrow from it but become it, to embody Authentic Confidence. A leader can hardly afford to vacillate when it comes to demonstrating courage or when it comes to patience and honesty. The highly visible world latches on to negative traits and behaviour in a flash, with little patience and bucket loads of self-righteous indignation. Followers feel more empowered and at liberty to criticize their leaders and judge them more harshly than ever before.

So it becomes very important that the leader first uncovers that best part and then brings it to the surface to fully embrace it. It is who you are anyway; it is the real, authentic you, but it has layers of limiting beliefs piled on top since birth, stemming from parental insecurities & ignorance; societal falsehoods; peer group influence; and even educational limitations.

It’s time to unpack, search for, discover your best part because the world and your organization with its daunting challenges need the real, balanced, healthy, authentically confident you to show up like never before.

When you embrace this best part it almost automatically follows that you will tap into some of that Authentic Confidence and generate movement of self, others and organization, which builds your Authentic Confidence even further. Let me explain why. For successful personal movement you need three essence building blocks:

  1. Motivation: The clearer your motive, desire, aspiration in life, the more motivated you will be. This means you need self-knowledge and self-awareness, but in the context of today, at a deeper level than before. You need to know what really drives you – not what others say should drive you; what are your deepest and most authentic drivers, because you can’t afford to waver and waste time. Therefore, discovering your best part makes this possible, thus increasing your confidence as you become more congruent.
  2. Direction: The more authentic and crisp your drivers (motivation) the more accurate your direction – plans, goals, actions, strategy – is able to be. When you follow the correct direction the likelihood of success increases; and when you succeed your confidence levels increase. This means you need some knowledge to access directional options. It could mean technical or formal studies in a specific field.
  3. Structure: Relevant structure rounds it off. Your motivation and direction needs relevant resources, systems, processes to finally activate movement. If you don’t attach the right structure your motivation and direction become mere wishes and options. This means you must learn to manage structures to some degree.

When you are able to confidently place these three building blocks on top of the cornerstone of Authentic Confidence – at the deep level today’s challenges require – then you will be more equipped to authentically implement it with your team and organization. You will show up at work, home, in everyday situations as you ought to, not as you think others expect or in a way you believe will attract more acceptance of you.

Some leaders somehow manage to implement this process – seemingly successful – with their team and even organization, but not so much with themselves. More than ever before it catches up with them, especially in today’s VICCAS world.

Why are the above steps so powerful yet simple? It is the Universal Law of Movement: All Movement is governed by the integration of Motivation, Direction and Structure. In essence, the key ingredient to successful leadership in today’s world is how confidently you lead yourself through the application of the Law of Movement and then, how you transfer this skill to equally successfully implement it inside your organisation and society.

On some level there is acceptance out there of the need to equip leaders with self-knowledge and self-awareness. But collectively speaking our approach just does not cut it. We send leaders on leadership programs where the first module of a day or two consists of self-awareness principles. And then we tick the box to move to the next important principle or attribute. Frankly, it may just be a waste of time and money. We must do more. We must invest more in helping leaders unleash their Authentic Confidence, because on this foundation anything can be built.




Adriaan, as an accomplished author and leadership advisor, has been interviewing and working with top leaders for more than 15 years. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Leadership Platform. (Twitter: @AdriaanG_LP)

Call: +27 (0)12 653 3022

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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.


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