As a leader one of our key roles is to inspire confidence, but confidence in whom?
For me the following quote is the real answer to that that question.
“A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.”
It’s true that our teams have to have trust and have confidence in us as leaders, and this is something that we need to build, but only so that this is to allow us to build their confidence in themselves. It is not to make them dependent upon us.
I believe that as leaders we need to be making ourselves redundant. We need to build the confidence our teams have in themselves so that they actually don’t need us to lead them, that they are in a position to be able to lead themselves.
Obviously leaders will still be needed: to set goals and direction; to provide reward and recognition; but those will be the main tasks, the rest of the leadership will come from within the team.
This also requires us to build our trust and confidence in our teams, to allow them the freedom to lead themselves.
This is often the more difficult part, as we need to accept that we are not quite as necessary as we would like to be.
If we can achieve this, then this will allow us to move to a higher level of leadership and actually achieve significantly more. This also allows the leadership that we have built to continue without us. Now that is a real legacy.
A great example of this is John F Kennedy who set the goal of landing a man on the moon and bringing him back safely, he set that goal on May 25th 1961, he inspired the nation to achieve that, he gave them confidence and belief in themselves that they could do it.
This inspiration even survived his death on November 22 1963, 2 years after he had set the US on the path, and the goal was ultimately achieved July 20th 1969, 8 years after the goal had been set and 6 years after his death.
Of course other leaders picked up the baton of leadership after his death, but this is what happens when we build confidence in our teams, they believe that they can achieve the goals, both with us and even without us.
Leadership is not about the leaders, it’s about the people that we lead!