The Ultimate Measure of Leadership Confidence (Hint: you knew it all along)

Darren Kanthal
4 min readAug 22, 2023

--

“Did he have an epiphany? What tools does he have at his disposal?”

These are the questions I was asked recently about a client. And to be honest, I squirmed and wasn’t sure how I was supposed to answer those questions.

I thought to myself, “Is it fair for me to talk about an epiphany someone else did or didn’t have?” I mean — aren’t epiphanies rather personal and in the eye of the beholder?!

And then there was the tool question. The thing is, you can be given countless tools — but no matter the number, they are all 100% useless if they’re never used. Yet again, I was conflicted about how to answer the question.

I know my client has tools and believe he’s using them effectively, but nobody at the organization has confirmed or denied this — I have a one-sided story!

How to measure confidence

If you don’t already know, I work as a Leadership & Career Coach.

For clients who are in the middle of a job search, some success can be tangible — updating and completing a final version of their resume, for instance, or building their LinkedIn network, and ultimately landing the job.

On the intangible side, measuring one’s growing level of confidence can be tricky. Confidence is hard to measure from a KPI, metrics, or outsider’s perspective. Your level of confidence affects you during an interview and when you are meeting and conversing with new people. It’s also important to help shield you from the undeniable rejection that comes with the job search. But just as with the epiphany — isn’t one’s confidence also in the eye of the beholder?

For my leadership clients, we are focused on building their confidence typically in 3 main areas:

  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership style and philosophy

And although many of my client’s leaders want to put some form of KPI or measurement around these areas, nobody has been able to do so as of this writing.

Let me clarify something — a majority of the people I partner with are not failing, they are not on a PIP (that’s a Performance Improvement Plan if you’re not familiar with the acronym), and by just about all corporate measures, they are successful leaders.

So why do they partner with me? Simply put, to be better, improve, and to feel more secure, comfortable and (drumroll please….) feel more confident.

With that being said, it begs the question, how can confidence be measured?

And then I saw this picture that ultimately brought it home for me.

It’s clear, when we’re talking about confidence, that the ultimate evaluator must be the person themself. If, through their confidence-building process, they become more apt to address things proactively before they fester, or they communicate more clearly when managing up, down, and sideways in such a way that the masses are well informed — who knows better than them how much more they’ve improved in these areas than before?

And what objective measure could we possibly put in place?

Confidence is in the eye of the beholder

Bottom line — confidence cannot be understated, nor is the impact fully understood by anyone other than the person themselves.

If I feel more confident to take more decisive and swift action, nobody knows how much I’ve grown better than I do. This newfound level of confidence and its related improvements often lead to exponential growth in a multitude of areas.

I work with leaders of all levels, functions, and industries. The common thread amongst all of them is that they lack confidence in some areas of their lives — personal and professional.

Through my partnership with leaders, we uncover insecurities, deficiencies, and preferences that lead to unwanted actions, behaviors, and outcomes. Once they’re identified, we figure out ways for them to take action that would positively affect them. Confidence builds through positive interactions, and sometimes negative ones, time over time. It’s a compounding effect.

Are you ready to uncover this for yourself and start to build greater confidence?

Building your confidence with 2 key questions

The way we most often uncover these areas is by exploring a rather direct question: ‘In what areas of your leadership are you not meeting your own expectations?’

As you read that, answer the question for yourself.

The next question to explore is: ‘What are your expectations, and where exactly are you falling short?’

These two questions open the door to discovery, growth, and the beginnings of actions and experiences that lead to increased confidence.

Mark Twain said, ‘You cannot be comfortable without your own approval.’ If you’re not meeting your own level of expectations — how comfortable can you really be?

I have the answer to the test for you — be real with yourself, experiment, try new things, and build confidence.

And if you need help with these things, let me know and we can work on it together.

--

--

Darren Kanthal

Darren is a values-driven leadership and career coach who supports mid-career leaders with transformative career action plans and candid coaching conversations.