Skip to content

Why Confidence Is So Important In Leadership?

 Confident and courageous leaders have no problems pointing out their own weaknesses and ignorance.” Thom S. Rainer

Confidence is the cornerstone of leadership. Confidence is the key to success. Generally, when a leader exhibits confidence, it makes it easier to trust that leader, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to work with a confident leader? People want to work with confident leaders that they will trust. When leaders are confident, they typically: Are happy and feel positive about their ability to deal will daily challenges.

In my ‘Veli Ndaba Neuro Engineering Leadership Effect’ #VNNLE, I interview a lot of senior and executive leaders on leadership issues. In this past week’s leadership series, when I probed on what leads to confidence, the following kept on coming up:

  1. Clarity of vision;
  2. Acknowledgement of blind spots. Accepting that you have shortcomings as a leader and that you don’t have all the answers to the existing challenges;
  3. Willingness to accept feedback. This is not easy, but critical. It’s an important skill to develop as a leader as it helps minimize your blind spots, and improve your leadership competence;
  4. You need to be true to yourself as a leader. Their decisions are values-based.
  5. This is about doing the right things based on high personal values, however difficult it may be especially when it’s tempting to do the wrong things.
  6. Authenticity

As much as confidence is important, without the above qualities, it can be a tricky and dangerous road for the followers. There’s a natural tendency to trust people more when they appear confident, it creates assurance about a person’s competence.

Confidence truly separates average leaders from great leaders. In reality, self-confidence is a more important asset than skill, knowledge, or even experience. Without confidence, you will find it difficult to make tough decisions, lead meetings with authority, get people to communicate with you candidly, and be open to feedback, particularly when it is of the constructive type. Without confidence, you will second-guess your decisions and find yourself becoming defensive when challenged. Without confidence, you may find yourself sadly lacking in one very important component of leadership… followers.

Never underestimate the critical connection between confidence and leadership. When people feel your confidence and trust you, they will willingly invest their time, energy and loyalty to ensure that you and the team are successful. You can teach a leader to be an effective problem solver; become more decisive; a better communicator; how to coach, mentor and hold team members accountable; and many other fundamentals of leadership. Yet, without that leader first believing in himself or herself, true leadership will exist only in title. In essence, related to leadership confidence, the first sale must be to yourself. Meaning, that if you don’t believe that you have the personal confidence to lead, gaining followers will be tough, or impossible.

My passion and commitment, as Veli Ndaba, is to help leaders move from leadership mental darkness to leadership mental light. It’s to equip them to create a competitive leadership advantage by applying insights from neuroscience and engineering principles. The neuroscience of confidence shows that confidence is contagious. So, it means that self-confidence does more than change your own behaviour, it also changes the behaviour of those around you. Self-confidence is, in fact, contagious due to the phenomenon of mirror-neurons. These mirror-neurons are brain cells that fire “both when a person acts and when a person observes the same action performed by another.”  The mirror neuron effect is so powerful that it can actually convince other people to disbelieve their own senses.

When a leader is confident, they typically are:

  • Happy and laugh more;
  • Motivated and ambitious; and
  • More open for feedback.

Confident leaders welcome feedback from others and put their ideas into action. Because of their receptivity, people keep coming to them with feedback and ideas for improvement, helping the leader continue to grow and develop.

Because our brains are swimming in neurochemicals, it explains why our emotions have a huge impact on our thoughts, behaviour and actions. Our emotions trigger these chemicals which then dictate how we react. Confidence leads to happiness, laughter, motivation and ambition and these emotions trigger dopamine – your feel good neurochemical. So, confident leaders have a deep sense of their core-values – what is right and wrong, and although open to feedback from others, they confidently form their own opinion or pick their own course of action. These leaders are easy to follow because their words and actions are in alignment and consistent.

Now that you know something about the science and the mechanics of self-confidence, you can start right away on a new path of improving your leadership journey and mastering the art of building confidence and use your positive leadership influence in creating a brain friendly workplace. For more, let me take your leadership team through the ‘Veli Ndaba Neuro Engineering Leadership Effect’ #VNNLE and help you create a Peak Performance Culture in your organization.

Veli Ndaba is a NeuroEngineering Leadership Effect Speaker and Trainer, Brain Coach and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!) and Newspaper Columnist. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on, or +27 83 304 9773