May 26, 2020 Carole Levy

Developing Leadership Confidence in Times of Uncertainty

Developing our Leadership Confidence in times of uncertainty doesn’t imply that we have it all together – as in the notion that we are STRONG, don’t complain – and that tomorrow will be fine.

Although tomorrow will probably be fine because even if we worry, resist, cry and scream, we will eventually find a way to adapt to our new circumstances. 

Leadership confidence refers to a different kind of resilience -a belief in our own ability (confidence comes from the Latin con-fidesfaith in) to mobilize the appropriate motivation and action to meet new demands. And from there, lead our self and others forward.

In times of uncertainty and sudden change, this confidence can be shaken, but just as easily deepened and sometimes, discovered for the first time. 

One way to mobilize our leadership confidence is to recognize challenging situations that we have overcome (link) in the past, and acknowledge the qualities, mental resources and skills that are a part of who we are, and which are available to us for successful leadership. 

In this sense, developing leadership confidence means holding the mirror to our strengths, which can be as hard as doing the same for our weaknesses. We need others in either case.

Last week, I facilitated a virtual session (new norm for leadership development facilitators) with a global learning organization which is currently undertaking changes – including a general reorganization, accelerated by the Pandemic. The goal of the session was to offer a framework for interpersonal holding – the possibility for some team members to openly and safely process   their emotions – being held by each other and engaging with leadership confidence. The reflections included exploring a past challenging situation as well as a current one.

The session was ambitious – a brushstroke to ignite a sparkle of change. I’ve often witnessed that a clear framework and a clear intention can generate valuable insights, even tiny. And that was the case in the following example.

A young woman living outside of the US was feeling a lot of grief about how the pandemic had affected her parents’ life. Living in the US, they were about to lose their 30 years old business because of the recent economic downfall. She was expressing distress, powerlessness and frustration. She wanted to help her parents but had no idea how. That was her challenge. She couldn’t see how to approach the situation with leadership confidence. We held the space for her to explore her options. 

In sharing her past challenging experiences, she identified that what had helped her to overcome difficulties, was her capacity to commit, her love of learning, and her ability to process through speaking her truth

As she processed with us through speaking, she realized that her leadership confidence lay in her ability to engage her parents in an emotional conversation, be present for them and listen. 

We all benefited from her simple insight, as valid in organization as in our personal lives. Listening is more than enough. 

Comment (1)

  1. Bill

    I often overlook these types of moments to exemplify resilient leadership. I’m always looking for that pivotal, crucial and dramatic moment, “the big shot”, “the direct order”, the 1% moments. Thank you for shining the light that there are so much untapped opportunities in the 99%!

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