#leadership: How Great Leaders Instill Confidence

You bet I was. This was the moment I’d been waiting for all week.

My instructor moved me closer to the edge.

And then we jumped.

Although it lasted barely a minute, my first parachute jump was one of the best experiences of my life.

But it hadn’t started like that. Oh no. In fact, I’d delayed the induction and training classes for ages. After boasting (stupidly) to my wife how I thought I’d easily be able to do a parachute jump, the reality had hit home quickly after she’d “surprised” me with the tickets.

YouTubing every few minutes had only got my nerves jangling even more.

What had really changed my mindset was my instructor Cameron. A twenty something, ice-cool dude with a massive smile. He’d listened, reassured me and taught me everything step-by-step. The perfect teacher I could have ever asked for. Slowly but surely, my confidence grew.

Until I couldn’t wait to jump.

We all know that confidence is a common trait of successful people. It causes us to seize opportunity, influence others and embrace a challenge.

However in ten years as a recruiter I’ve noticed that there is something even more powerful than having confidence. Something that only the greatest leaders are able to do.

And that is the ability to instil confidence into others.

Here are some ways how great leaders instill confidence.

They start small

Anybody who has ever had children remembers that moment when they take their first steps.

Unfortunately, this is usually followed quickly by regular tumbles. And for a baby that has had an easy life so far on all fours, they don’t tend to forget these falls easily.

Often, what determines how quickly a child develops the ability to walk independently is their level of self-confidence. Self-confidence that is usually developed by starting small – in this case, literally one step at a time.

Great leaders understand that confidence isn’t a switch. Supreme confidence isn’t something that can be turned on overnight.

But we can start moving in the right direction. By focussing on small actions and improvements it’s possible to turn even the most reserved people into fearless boardroom presenters.

Great leaders start small.


They work together

When you’re feeling down or nervous, there is perhaps nothing worse than being told what to do.

The last thing we want in that situation is to be confronted by the plucky, outgoing manager who shows us how they would make the cold call, handle that big presentation or re-negotiate with the big client.

If anything, it can often make us feel like we are less capable than others causing even further loss of confidence.

As social creatures, what we want is support. A partner. Someone who can work with us on an equal level. Who can help us grow.

Great leaders don’t just show the way. They join us on the journey. Slowly in the driving seat and eventually moving to the passenger side. Great leaders understand that confidence thrives most in close groups and by working alongside their followers they can create confidence that permanently grows.

Great leaders work together.


They tell stories

We all want to be more confident.

The ability to ask for a pay rise or promotion. The confidence to make those high-profile cold calls. Even the self-assurance to ask that hot guy on the tube out for a drink.

What usually prevents us doing so is fear of rejection. Aka looking like a Wally.

In such instances, what often motivates us to overcome this fear is knowing that someone else has overcome such adversity previously. Again, as complex social beings, humans have a weird tendency to often be more motivated by the actions and achievements of others than our own self-focussed goals.

Great leaders instil confidence by telling stores. Tales of others who overcame extreme adversity. Examples of similar people who slowly developed supreme confidence that led to success. Legends that were once shy and timid.

Stories bring hope, romance and inspiration. Great leaders understand that rather than focussing totally on an individual and cause them to become stressed, it’s often more productive to demonstrate that confidence is a quality that everyone has to build.

Great leaders tell great stories.


Having confidence is great.

But instilling confidence is far more powerful.

Hiring managers can gain much from those people who not only approach work and life with confidence, but also have the rare ability to cause others to grow in confidence too.

Does your boss instill confidence?