Does Confidence Encourage Leadership?

Do confident people typically become leaders?

While there is a plethora of information that indicates that confidence is essential for any leader’s success, I didn’t see anything that indicates whether confident people typically become leaders.

My hypothesis

Absent any formal studies, at least that I’m aware of, I’ll share my hypothesis based on what I’ve observed over the years.

The desire to lead

While I believe that some people have a desire to lead, they’re in the minority.  More often than not people see that something needs doing and that no one else is stepping up to get it done,  that is when they take a leadership role.

Founders of MADD (mothers against drunk driving) and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure for breast cancer were driven by the loss of loved ones. They hoped that they could help others avoid suffering similar losses.

It’s their passion for a mission that drives them to take the lead in righting whatever untenable wrong they’ve experienced. In other words, they’re driven by the mission, not a desire to lead.

Leaders and followers

In my experience the best leaders are confident in their abilities and cognizant of what those abilities are. They use this knowledge to help them know when to lead and when to follow. They’re equally comfortable and effective in both roles.

Message for you

Here’s a message that I’ve been delivering to high school kids for almost two decades…and its a belief that has served me well for much longer than that:

Sometimes you lead because you’re the best equipped to do so

Sometimes you follow because others are better equipped to lead

Sometimes you lead because others are unwilling to do so

The key is to know yourself well enough and be confident enough in your abilities to choose the role that is appropriate for the situation you’re facing.  Good leaders are also good followers.

For our kids

If you live according to the message I just shared with you, your kids will emulate your behavior.  They’ll become adept at leading, following and knowing when to assume each role.

As situations arise in their lives that cause them to wonder whether or they should lead or follow, remind them of the message above. They’ll find it easier to make a choice when they have that decision-making tool at their disposal.

Short answer

My short answer to the opening question “Does confidence encourage leadership?” I don’t think so. I believe it’s the desire to see something change that drives the vast majority of people into leadership roles.  While there are people who desire leadership roles, my experience is that they are in the minority.

Final thought

There’s nothing wrong with desiring leadership roles…as long as you’re aware that there will be times when you demonstrate true leadership by following someone else’s lead.

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