Confidence must be felt in order to be radiated, demonstrated or displayed, and only then is it perceived by others. Being loud, speaking over people or having the last word, are not signs of confidence, but rather they are a distraction, one that is often annoying. Over time, it invites inattention rather than attention.
True confidence can be sensed by another in a few seconds, In the same way, fake confidence can be recognized just as quickly with behaviours that give leaders away. It is absolutely possible for someone who is quiet and introverted to be confident, just as it is for someone who is loud and talkative to be lacking confidence.
Leaders are expected to inspire, influence, and motivate. This is often misinterpreted or overwhelms, initiating exaggerated behaviours that indicate lack of confidence.
Here are 7 behaviours that tell us loud and clear, that a leader is faking confidence
Avoids difficult conversations
It is often easier to stay in the comfort zone of avoidance, hoping that things will work out, or hoping that someone else does the honours of braving that difficult conversation. Leaders avoid sharing their thoughts, ideas and opinions for fear of what others may think of them, for fear that they might invite disapproval, alienation or rejection.
Leaders who hesitate from initiating a difficult conversation fear consequences and prefer to shirk from their responsibility to have a dialogue. These challenging conversations are necessary for they not only build confidence, courage and leadership, but they encourage clarity, productivity and transparency, whereas avoidance builds resentment, buries the problem temporarily only to explode later, adding an undertone of tension in a relationship.
Needs constant validation
Leaders who need to constantly seek approval before they take any action shows lack of confidence and lack of leadership. The need for validation, confirmation, and endorsement for what needs to be done indicates that they are unsure, hesitant, and insecure.
There are times when swift action needs to be taken and difficult decisions need to be made, often on the spot. Seeking the green light here is akin to seeking authorization, fearing that they would have to alone face the consequence of their action.
Leadership does not seek reassurance, but must demonstrate courage by taking ownership of their action and the responsibility for the outcome of those actions. To build followership, leaders must be self-assured and resilient.
Can’t handle negative feedback
Leaders who are truly confident are leaders who can listen to, acknowledge and act on the negative feedback they receive. Being easily dejected, getting defensive or becoming upset are clear signs of lack of confidence, even arrogance. Arrogance is the opposite of confidence. It is the need to be right all the time. Worse, it is believing that they are always right.
Leaders who are confident are able to handle criticism. They are able to remove the emotion from it, and look to improve through that criticism by taking it constructively. It is accepting the feedback and evaluating it, so as to take from it the value. When defenses are down, the mind is open and able to objectively assess what needs to be heeded and what can be overlooked.
Boasts and brags
Boasting and bragging is when leaders sing their own glory, blow their own trumpet. It is a desperate call for attention, when what would actually get the desired attention are the qualities of empathy, listening and consideration.
Leaders who need to brag, boast and name drop, push others away. There is a need to flaunt and show off to cover up their own lack of self-worth, a lack of their own confidence. Often this comes from them not being able to recognize their own value, and where value is not recognized, it cannot be enhanced.
Boasting and bragging hides credibility, as the noise of gloating drowns out the effort of good work. Plus, the arrogance alienates them from their teams and colleagues, impacting relationships, rapport and productive teamwork.
Disowns responsibility for failure
It takes courage to face up to failure, accept it, own it, learn and move on from shifting the blame is cowardly and immoral. Confidence is behaving with ethics, taking ownership of the consequences, whatever they may be, good or bad, success or failure.
Leaders who shy away from facing setbacks lose credibility, dependability, and respect. It takes courage and vulnerability to stand up to the outcome of the decisions and actions that were taken. The lack of confidence pushes leaders to dodge the blame. It is grit and self-respect to accept, admit and tackle failure head-on. Self-respect inspires self-confidence.
There are those who swim with the tide and go where the wind blows. This sends out mixed messages, confuses others on who their leader really is. And it is not possible to build a relationship with someone that one cannot understand. Besides, the inconsistent behaviour breeds distrust.
There are leaders who will keep changing their mind or give a vote only when they know they are on the ‘right’ side, to not lose favour or personal gain. They are more concerned with pleasing the ‘right’ people than taking the right action. Confidence is sticking with your principles, acting with your values, and facing the consequences.
Fidgets, slouches and avoids eye contact
Constant fidgeting, nervous gestures, a slouched posture and avoiding eye contact are signs of low confidence. Leaders with confidence walk tall, have an open body language, natural hand movements and genuine eye contact.
Lack of confidence makes one self-conscious, where the focus is on oneself rather than the audience or the task. Leaders who are fixated on how they are viewed, watched, perceived, and judged find it difficult to demonstrate certainty, assuredness and composure.
When confidence is built, the body language follows with a certain stateliness, stature and spirit.
Live a full life, with confidence, dignity and gratitude