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Authenticity: 7 Ways to Navigate Self-Doubt

Developing skills – when you’re empty on the inside – destroys you, especially if you succeed.

Empty leaders lose themselves to skills, methods, and strategies.

Teach how to be, before teaching what to do.



Arrogance relies on methods. Humility relies on people.


Navigating self-doubt is essential to successful leadership. Self-doubt invites leaders to put too much trust in methods, strategies, and skills.

People, not methods, are the answer.

Navigating self-doubt in others:

  1. Provide time for self-reflection. Helping others reflect is a gift to those consumed with doing.
  2. Ask, “Who do you want to be?”
  3. Define who to be in behavioral terms. What behaviors best reflect who you aspire to be?
  4. Illuminate the connection between aspiration and behavior. “You want to be open. When you cross your arms you look closed.”
  5. Allow time for struggle, failure, and recovery. Don’t rush to help.
  6. See strengths in them that they don’t see in themselves.
  7. Providing opportunities to deliver results.

Some leaders have too much self-doubt; others have too little.

Encouraging self-doubt:

If you’re working with leaders who don’t have self-doubt, teach them how to have it.

Always doubt leaders who never doubt themselves.

Self-doubt is an ally, not an enemy, as long as it doesn’t hobble or paralyze.

Leaders without self-doubt:

  1. Minimize challenges and obstacles.
  2. Underestimate the demands of success.
  3. Make short-sighted decisions.
  4. Blame others when things go wrong.

The solution to self-doubt is listening to it while pressing through it.

Leveraging self-doubt:

  1. Don’t go with the first answer or solution.
  2. Ask, “What if I’m wrong?”
  3. Develop contingency plans.
  4. Go with their gut not yours, when it’s their area of expertise.
  5. Invite teams to question your ideas.
  6. Ask, “Why won’t this work?”
  7. Ask, “If I fail, what will I not have done?”

The path to authentic leadership includes navigating self-doubt.

What are the downsides of self-doubt?

How can leaders leverage self-doubt?

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