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Self-Assured Leaders and Empowered Teams: A noteworthy Correlation

Recently, I was following a vlog by a well-known Indian content creator and stand-up comedian. It talked about the crests and troughs of his start-up where he discovered a fascinating trait known as “self-assurance”. It played a major role in determining how he failed as a leader and couldn’t help his team and company from sinking because he wasn’t self-assured. I was fascinated by the simple thought of a correlation between “Self-Assurance” and “Building Empowered Teams,” and felt compelled to read and explore more on the subject.

If you read this blog all the way to the end, I guarantee you’ll find plenty of food for thought in this area, as well as curiosity to adapt this to your own leadership style.

Author of the book, “Leadership: Theory and Practice”, Mr. Peter Northouse, considers self- assurance as one of the top 5 leadership traits. We all know for fact now that “Self-Assurance” and “Leadership” have a lot of co-relation and consequential effects. People that are particularly competent in being Self-Assured have faith in their own abilities.  They have an inner compass that assures them that their decisions are appropriate.

Think about the best leader you’ve ever worked with. Pause for a moment and reflect… Remember and hold this thought for now; we’ll come back to it right at the end of this blog.

What do you think Building Empowered Teams is about?- how you act, how you push your team to take the less-travelled road, how you praise, appreciate, share credit for an achievement, how you give autonomy, create a collaborative competent environment, listen, follow transparency in sharing information, build trust amongst the team, provide the team with larger goals and let them figure out the detailed plan and how you build a culture of respect, trust and accountability.

Yes, these are incredibly important considerations, but they are not as uncomplicated in practical application as I stated. Let’s see how a self-assured leader adds the magic to these essentials:

1. Self-Awareness, Reflection and Regulation

Leadership is glorified, but it is just the tiny things you do, like parenting. If you fail as a leader, it’s because you are unable to connect with your core, if you are intimidated and unfulfilled, it is you who is unresolved, fearful, and feels unworthy.  To develop the skill of “Self-Assurance” (and I purposefully call it a skill because it can be developed), you must first be self-aware, then practice self-reflection, and finally self-regulate.

2. Taking capabilities-assured-calculated risks

Engagement, Enablement, and Empowerment are skills that a self-assured leader can put into action. Fear of failure would never immobilize a self-assured leader, who would be willing to take risks and push his or her team to innovate. These executives understand how to take capabilities-assured-calculated risks and get the rewards.

3. Eating Last, gaining loyalty:

Leaders who are insecure with themselves tend to withhold praise and acknowledgment from others. They may even claim credit for the team’s accomplishments. Simon Sinek in his book “Leaders Eat Last” writes, “This one option, whether a leader puts themselves or their people first, determines if they are worthy of our love and loyalty”, and in my opinion, if a leader is self assured, he or she will never step back to put the team first and sharing the credit due at the right time in the right place.

4. Encouraging messiness in conversations:

Another trait of a self-assured leader is their inclusiveness of all people and their ability to listen to and understand everyone’s point of view. They don’t carry a fear of losing self-importance or self worth by accepting other’s point of view and hence they are the best at listening and adaptability. Along with listening, these leaders enjoy the messiness of conversations, understanding others’ points of view, explaining their own, thinking again, re-thinking, and re-explaining, and they enjoy the outcome that has resulted from the mess. This is possible because they are not afraid of being messy in their conversations.

5. Knowledge Sharing and space for application

When it comes to sharing information, praising and sharing credit when due, a self-assured leader is never afraid of someone outpacing them in terms of gaining more knowledge, developing more skills and getting more recognized. They in fact help teams through mentoring and coaching in the right direction wherever required. These leaders are confident in their desire to learn and grow, and thus believe strongly in knowledge sharing and empowering others with critical information and also providing them space to apply that with being confident of handling the margin of errors.

5. Muscle to handle contingencies

Self-assured leaders also demonstrate a high level of trust in their team, which they can afford to do because they are confident in their ability to handle if things go south. They entrust teams with responsibilities and decision-making. These leaders provide unconditional support to their teams. I’ve heard management authors say that leadership is like parenting, and self-assured leaders demonstrate this by the environment they create for teams to thrive in, the confidence they demonstrate in their teams, the amount of autonomy and space they provide for people to develop their own muscles, and the respect and trust they establish.

I have derived a formula: (Enablement * Engagement) Self Assured Leader = Empowered teams

To conclude, a self-assured leader is content, fulfilled, knows what he or she is doing, recognises his or her credibility, and is dedicated to the upliftment of the team. They are able to build stronger teams and are confident in facing the outcome. Let us not underestimate the importance of being self-assured. Let us not treat it as a nice-to-have instead of a must-have. People behave differently when they are confident that they can win, and only a self-assured leader can build winning teams. Not everyone lacks confidence; it is the leader who makes it easier for them to gain confidence.

Remember how I told you to consider the best leader you’ve ever worked with? Believe me, if you practice and develop self-assurance, you will be the person who comes to mind when people think of the best leader.

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