To say that confidence is an important quality for a business leader to have is an understatement. At any given time, your employees are going to be looking to you to make decisions and provide insight. They need to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you're confident in the actions you're taking. You need to know that you've given serious thought to the long, often difficult road ahead of you and that you're making the right move for the right task at the right time. If people can see that you believe in yourself, in your business, and what you've worked so hard to build, they'll start to believe in those things, too.
But something many people often don't realize until it's far too late is that "confidence" and "educated confidence" are NOT the same thing.
What is Educated Confidence?
Trust, belief, faith, conviction - these are all among the most essential ingredients that go into creating a confident leader. But one of the most important is also one of the ones that is rarely mentioned - humility. Humility allows you to acknowledge that even though you're a leader, you're still just one small cog in a much bigger machine. A living, breathing machine with a life of its own - one that is much more powerful than any one individual working within it, even when that person is yourself.
In many ways, educated confidence is all about slightly adjusting your perspective to account for your own limitations. You need to be confident in the fact that you're not always going to have the right answer to every problem you face. And that's okay - because you're also confident in the people around you and you know that you'll get through it together like you always do.
You need to be confident in the fact that you are going to make mistakes as a business leader - probably a lot of them, in fact. But this is something that you welcome because you're also confident in your ability to learn the right lessons from these mistakes and strengthening yourself and your entire organization in the process.
It's All About the Decisions
It has been said in the past that leadership essentially comes down to your ability to make decisions - but this is only one small part of a much larger story. It's also about your ability to see those decisions through the lens of all possible consequences, both good and bad.
An overly self-confident leader often becomes one that people follow because their paychecks depend on it, not necessarily because they want to. We've all had these types of bosses - the people who are experts at delegating responsibility (read: barking orders) but who always seem to disappear when those proverbial chickens come home to roost.
A leader armed with the power of educated confidence, however, is someone that people follow because they just can't help themselves. They acknowledge that they don't have all the answers and they likely never will, but that's okay - because "we're all in this together." It's the idea that just because you're a leader doesn't mean that you're always right - and you wouldn't have it any other way.
Educated confidence is that little voice inside your head that says "maybe I should get a second, or third, opinion on this, as this is definitely outside of my wheelhouse." It's a voice that you shouldn't try to stifle or tamp down, resist or ignore.
Instead, you need to give that educated, confident little voice a megaphone.