Facing Turbulence with Confidence
You may wish seas were smooth but leaders live in turbulence. The world is filled with “make believe leaders” who want the helm without the responsibility. They want you to set the course, trim the sails, solve the problems, give them the helm, and applaud.
When things are tough everything matters more.
Let’s be real. You’re currently in challenging seas, coming out of deep waters, or heading into turbulence. Welcome to the world of leadership. The easy course is drifting but leadership that matters rises to face challenging seas with confidence.
Three leadership tones:
The three leadership tones are confidence, doubt, or defeat.
Any tone less then confidence is foolish.
Doubtful leaders question their own and their team’s ability to rise up. I’ll never forget the director who told his team, “I’m worried we won’t reach our target.” He didn’t strategize, he just worried. You could see the wind leave their sails.
Doubtful leaders may not overtly doubt, but the fear in their tone says it all. They rely on fear, pressure, and uncertainty to motivate.
The tone of leadership is confidence
or it is nothing at all.
The only difference between doubtful and defeated leaders is the time it takes for ships to sink. Doubt prolongs death – defeat hastens it.
Confidence isn’t blindness, pretending, or lying to ourselves and others. Real confidence firmly faces turbulent seas with belief. Find a team and set a course you believe in or head for port now.
Confidence includes uncertainties. Life is filled with unexpected storms. The only thing you control is your passion for the vision and your ability to adapt.
If confidence requires guaranteed outcomes
no one can have confidence.
- Intentionally choose your tone.
- Face reality. Positivism without facing reality is foolishness.
- Express realistic confidence in your team.
How can leaders express confidence effectively?
How can leaders find and create points of confidence for individuals and organizations?
The confidence that a leader demonstrates will make or break their team. Leadership is not defined only by the titles bestowed on us, but in every action and word. If we cannot lead ourselves confidently, especially when we think no one is watching, we cannot hope to capture the hearts and minds of the people we are trying to move forward or change. If we don’t belive, or at least appear to believe, then neither will they.
We create points of confidence when we can admit that we do not know all of the answers and respect the input of others; when we get out of our own way. We also make points of confidence when we let others shine.
Thank you Martina.
Your last paragraph is a home run in my book. Confidence isn’t about being right all the time…confident people confidently say they don’t know. KaChing!
I also find Martina’s last paragraph a home run. One of the most invigorating, dynamic and rewarding environments I’ve experienced is working with people who don’t pretend to know everything. Instead, we followed 2. above, especially!
Excellent article and complement to the author. This helps leades to change the thinking being +ve at the time when it is indded needed.
Thank you PrashAnt.
Dan, I believe entirely in the inner leader. To the extent there is strength in the heart and soul, there will be a greater chance for confidence in the circumstances. Techniques alone will not make a leader confident in turbulence.
Confidence must be realistic. It is not the same as optimism or bravado. A leader must say, “I realize there is danger/ a problem/ an obstacle that is huge and unsettling. Your concerns are real. However, WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER and we will get through.”
Like Christ’s “I will never leave you nor forsake you” and “Behold I am with you always, even unto the end of the world”, and “All power has been given unto me”, a leader’s promise of faithfulness and reassurance of providing resources and efforts are paramount to ensuring others in the organization face obstacles without panic and with determination to accomplish organizational goals.
Thank you Marc.
Connections within the team create confidence in individuals.
One more point: Experience (he/she has been there before) and expertise (he/she has some ability that will further the team’s success) give credibility to confident leaders, while humility and perseverance reassure the team that the leader won’t jump ship in tough times.
When one of these ingredients is lacking, expressed confidence carries little weight.
I remember an incident when as college freshman I was (foolishly) swimming across a lake in East Texas with another student from our school. I was fit and strong, but ran into seaweed and began to struggle. My swim buddy (who I had only met a couple of hours before) yelled out to me “float on your back, you’ll get above the seaweed”. He then added the magic words that made me stop panicking “I’m a certified lifeguard, we’ll make it”. His instructions were good. Not only did we make it across the lake, but we swam back. I was not lacking strength, but knowledge and confidence. My “leader” supplied both.
The following year another young man from the same university also ran into seaweed in the same lake. He, too, was swimming with a buddy who tried to help. Both men were in great shape. Unfortunately, neither had the knowledge and experience to know that floating on one’s back would remove the need to struggle against the clutching weeds. One of them drowned, and his friend was devastated. Despite best efforts and encouragement, his “leadership” was quite useless in preventing the tragedy. To my knowledge, no one else from the school ever attempted the lake crossing.
Another excellent post. I so often hear of teams that met difficult goals saying “our President believed in us” and others that fell short because they were expected to.
Thanks you for combining confidence and positivism with realism. That’s the combination that makes everything good happen!
Thank you Jane.
Yes..yes…yes.. rather than doubt…express belief. True belief not drummed up fake belief. Find something in others that you can say you believe in.
I appreciate the statement: life is filled with unexpected storms.And leaders enjoy those storms. I also agree that confidence with guaranteed outcomes actually kills confidence. In fact, confidence instils hopes, enthusiasm and energy. But over confidence is blindness. IT is unrealistic expectation. So, those with over confidence prone to make more mistakes.I think leaders can express their confidence effectively by giving reasons, logic and limitations.Simply saying is not enough. You need to justify it. And I strongly support your view that the only thing you can control is your passion for the vision and your ability to adapt to the situations.
I believe personal examples are the great confidence booster in others and in organizations.It is the action that creates confidence. words without action does not last long.
Thank you Ajay.
Love the addition of examples or stories as confidence builders. There’s something powerful about reading or hearing stories of perseverance.
Lots of great comments. My simple addition, confidence is an integral part of competence. Competence is an integral part of building confidence. Confident people are more believable, which tends to energize and engage the people around them. This raises the level of performance.
Thank you Jim.
Great observation about the yin and yang between confidence and competence. Additionally, self-confidence connects with competence but leaders can have confidence even when they aren’t competent in a given area. Confidence to learn for example.
Went white water rafting with the family this week. I was struck by the absolute confidence the guide every time we faced turbulence… even with a 6 year old ready to fall out at every turn. It made us all trust his leadership and do what needed to be done.
Thank you Karin.
Bingo on the connection between trust and confidence. Thanks for adding that powerful truth to the conversation.
I remind myself that leadership hinges on the continuous ability to enlist the support of others — doubts might be expressed in private problem-solving sessions with ones closest advisers, as a function of clarity (i.e. are the right people in the right roles on the team? there may be legitimate doubts that must be addressed, overcome and disposed of) — but as a matter of “public” leadership behaviors and actions,I agree wholeheartedly with the points made here.
I am reminded, too, of the lines spoken in the film Patton, after one of the many scenes of magnificent public leadership.
aide de camp: “Sometimes, general, they don’t know when you’re acting.”
Patton: “It’s not important that they know. It’s only important that I know.”
Thank you Rick.
Your quote at the end made me chuckle in a good way. Thanks.
YOu add important ideas about expressing doubts in a healthy ways. Very important extension.
There have been prior thread comments on risk, pace, and timing. Knowing how much to prepare for risk (build skill and wisdom) involves pace.
The timing element has many layers. Timing involves the P’s – proper prior planning prevents poor performance which, with a few prompts can create confidence markers for individuals and teams. It is the leader’s role to point out those markers periodically, prior to the ‘storm’, not in the middle of it.
The leader also has to be 100% confident in the prep and skills attained and share that confidence. With introspection, can you say truly, ‘with the resources we currently have, this is the the time we will do the best we can.’ If so, you are ready, if not, as Dan noted, head to port.
And most of all, the leader has to be there with, to face the turbulence, not hunkered down and distant. That is the moment of leadership measure and moxie. As a sidecar to this thread, I am reminded of Coach Wooden’s comment, “adversity is the state in which man most easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.”
So true! Thanks for another great post.
Over here in the UK we’ve had a fantastic female Member of Parliament called Louise Mensch. She’s been doing a great job holding global leaders to account for the lack of integrity of some of their subordinates and in generating a degree of realism about the clash between globally powerful corporates and national governments. She has a young family and a husband. She has a family that she is a partner in, and hence leads, too. This week she decided to prioritise her family over her career in politics. She made exactly the kind of decision Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote about earlier in the summer in her article entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”. Louise Mensch is now leaving Northamptonshire in the UK, with her children, to be close to her husband in New York City, USA. She is leading well. Anne-Marie Slaughter has subsequently inferred that, perhaps, she ought to have entitled her article something like “Why Parents Still Can’t Have It All”. And maybe, as fathers seek to interact with their own children more than 2 days in every 14, that’s the right title; and the right title for a global economy that would be incapble of healthy growth without healthy children and healthy grandchildren. It’s one of those crunch moments for a politican (just as for a teacher, a lawyer, an academic, a banker, …) where the intgrity test arises: the one that the people you presume to lead will be mindful whether you wish it or not. Tom Peters talked about the circle moving outwards; but the centre needs to remain strong; and the circle needs to remain consistent. I’m sufficiently impressed with Louise Mensch to give her a “mensch” (short for mention!) here! She’s no “shrinking violet” and her family is by no means weak: she married the manger of Metalica; you might of heard of them; just like you might have heard of the Raspberry Pi’s shipped from her Northampton, England constituency. My bet? Once she and her husband are happy with their family; and their family is happy with them. She’ll be back. And that’s leadership in a storm!
Reblogged this on Shandra Harris With Heart Wide Open and commented:
July was a very rough and turbulent time for many people, myself included. Times of great doubt and uncertainty in mankind but NEVER in God.
” Confidence isn’t blindness,pretending, or lying to ourselves and others. Real confidence firmly faces turbulent seas with belief.” Whether you’re under the laundry pile or in the boardroom you lead someone. Where do you place you confidence and belief in times of trouble? Exodus 33:14