Lead confidently in any situation

Discover what EXP leadership can do for you



Over time there have been many studies to determine what the key attributes of a leader are.

Keep in mind that there are three different levels at which leaders function, and each requires a different focus and skill sets. These levels are;

  • Executive (or strategic level. Leading the organisation, self and others)
  • Middle management
  • Supervisory

Regardless of the leadership level, they all require the same base competencies.

To get some context, think about your scenario for a moment and the leaders that you hold in high regard. Even if you are a leader, we all follow someone at some stage, so what is it about these leaders that stands out for you?

  • Competency (in their technical, management and leadership abilities)
  • Visionary
  • Honesty and integrity
  • Confidence
  • Charismatic
  • Focussed
  • Determined
  • Energetic
  • Tenacious
  • Empathetic
  • Resilient

All of these are relevant and great attributes, but for now I want to focus on one attribute in particular – confidence.

Confidence is not only what followers of a leader expect. For the leader there can be no substitute for confidence.


Confidence is not arrogance or simply being bold. All too often boldness is confused with arrogant ignorance. At its unadulterated core, confidence is a matter of having a deep-seated assurance that you know your “stuff”. It is borne out of having successfully followed a model, or method or blueprint that has proven its results over time.

When confidence is present, it is visible for all to see. It inspires everyone, including the leader. When confidence is lacking, it is also visible to all. As a leader this can be like a lead weight dragging you down. It influences your capacity to lead others. As those around you sense your loss of confidence they instinctively become hesitant to follow. In a strange knock-on effect this change in your followers attitude has an impact back on you. As you sense the overall confidence realm reducing it further chips away at your already hamstrung confidence. It becomes a nasty spiraling effect if it is not addressed quickly.

As a leader you have to have the confidence in your technical capabilities as well as your management skillsets. After years of applying your vocational skills, you will naturally be confident in your technical capabilities (the skills and methods you were trained in and have spent years honing through experience). You may even have confidence in your ability to manage processes. However, if you lack in any of these two areas you will lose your ability to lead effectively, and then, as most people do, you will default to managing the situation – and people.


That is not the end of it. You can have both of these competencies and fall very short of your leadership competencies and ability. You have to have confidence in leading others, and as in everything, confidence stems from knowing your stuff. It is in this area (of leading others) that most who hold management positions, fall short of the mark because they simply do not have the capabilities or competencies required.

To lead confidently, as with your technical and management capabilities, you will require a blueprint or a roadmap that is your default go-to method for leading people, and an organisation. In pressure moments, the last thing you need is to try and sift through all the complicated models floating around in your head. This pressure will simply add to your stress and place you under even more debilitating pressure.

As a leader, you will be subjected to ongoing pressure from more quarters than you can imagine. Unfortunately the human mind has a hair trigger mechanism that is wired for our protection since the beginning of time – the limbic system and its fight-or-flight mode.

The moment we go into a stress state, this trigger kicks in and makes us reach for our default mode – whatever that dominant habit may be. Here is the huge downside, and it can be seen in the dominant percentage of “management” approaches in practice, as opposed to “leadership” being practiced.

Without the confidence to lead, you will default to your long-term ingrained default mode that resides in your technical and management acumen and experience, and you will resort to managing people.


In many cases it gets even worse. Many people in management positions do not merely default to their technical or management modes. They have subscribed to the examples of how they were managed by their previous managers. In many cases, the role model or example is poor, filled with bad habits, poor management methods and absence of leadership competencies. All that happens is that these bad models simply get replicated over and over again and so the management practice prevails instead of one where solid leadership approaches are used.

What is needed is something that can reduce all the popular hype and noise and condense all the complication into a simple-to use model. It should be a model (especially when it has a proven track record of success) that will equip you with the confidence you need to lead others effectively. It must also equip you to move away from models and examples that are flawed and produce poor results.


The majority of leaders are Leaders-By-Design. That means they have carefully and deliberately honed their leadership craft over time. Yes it’s true that many leaders are gifted with all the right attributes and qualities that draw people to follow them,  but these people are the small minority.

There are three groups in the mix. Those that are naturally gifted. Those he vast majority of successful leaders have had to learn how to lead. Those that have the attributes of a leader, but never get to apply this to leading others. And then the vast majority of successful leaders who have had to learn how to lead. This group has been deliberate, intentional and forged their leadership craft by design.

By-design is simply a method of having the right blueprint to steer you onto the right track, and keep you focused on track amidst distractions and challenges. It is also the backbone on which the required core skillsets are added, or honed them if you already have them.

Another attribute of a leader is that they train up, equip and empower other leaders. Leaders become the custodians and propagators of a leadership culture or DNA. For this to be successful, a leader must be able to instill the same confidence in their protégés as they themselves have. Once again, handing over the right blueprint is crucial to establishing confidence in the next leaders.

There are many naturally gifted leaders who simply cannot share the leadership principles with others. Because these leaders are gifted, but few understand why it all just works for them, it is more default for these leaders to coach and mentor others. They do not have a blueprint to hand over. Those who have come to leadership by design are better equipped to pass this onto others because they know the design steps they themselves built and went through.

How much better would every scenario be if those who are leading others, are confident in themselves, have confidence in those they lead, and have the confidence to pass that onto everyone in their charge?


Take the step towards leading yourself and others.

Confidence that stems from having a solid blueprint to follow is the start of effective leadership. The Expectational Leadership Model can be the confidence kickstart you need as an emerging or aspiring leader. If you are in a leadership or management role and know that you you can be more effective, produce better results as a team, but somehow this is not where you find yourself and your team right now – then it is time to take a look at a model that can help you achieve this.


Start your journey to becoming a new breed of leader that can make a significant and meaningful impact to those around you. Take a course, attend a seminar near you, or subscribe to receive news, articles and notification of events and webinars.

The Berkley Institute Alliance

Discover what EXP leadership can do for you


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About the Author : Steve Vanstraaten

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