Back in my corporate-grind days before going into consulting, I got to witness firsthand the leadership styles of my executive peers at a previous company. One of them suffered from a bad case of bravado and swagger that didn’t sustain its influence with his followers. Another led without seeking attention through dominance, power or prestige. He led by serving the needs of his tribe first before his own. It worked, and they responded.

Truly confident leaders are servant leaders that share a number of the following qualities:

1. They Are Not Afraid to Be Wrong

Confident leaders take a stand, not because of a self-belief that they’re always right, and thus have to push their weight around, but because they aren’t afraid of being wrong. The conceited leader that proclaims his position and disregards differing opinions or points of view is a leader that will have few followers, mostly out of fear and intimidation. Typically, they know they’re right, and they need you to know it too.

Truly confident leaders are quite secure and will back down graciously when being proven wrong. To them, it’s more important to find out what is right than being right. They will also often admit when they’re wrong, made a mistake, or don’t have all the answers. Intellectual bullies? Rarely the case.

2. They Listen Way More Than They Speak.

Want to hear an insecure leader at work? Easy, just listen to their bragging. It is a mask for their insecurity. Truly confident leaders are unassuming and know what they think; they want to know what you think. This works brilliantly in meetings to tap into the strengths of others.


Truly confident leaders realize they know a lot, and seek to know even more, and they know the way to do that is to listen more.

3. They Avoid the Spotlight So It Shines On Other People

Truly confident leaders don’t need the glory; they understand what they’ve achieved. They don’t seek validation because true validation comes from within. They stand back and celebrate their accomplishments by letting others shine, which helps boost the confidence of others. In recent studies, this has been known to raise productivity levels.

4. They’re Not Afraid to Ask for Help

Confident leaders are secure enough to admit a weakness and when they need help. By asking for help that others may see as a weakness, a truly confident leader knows that when he gets help, he pays that other person a big compliment.


5. They Are Ready and Willing to Reward and Recognize Those who Fight Alongside Them

A truly confident leader never flies solo, but will always acknowledge his successes as a team effort. Humility serves him well, as he expresses deep gratitude for everyone involved in pulling together a project, no matter how big or small the role.

He understands human nature and will make it a priority to recognize people for their hard work, both in public and private. A person that sees this confident leader in action not seeking self-glory, but building up others instead will typically be more willing to follow that leader. That’s a huge competitive advantage!

What Makes a Leader Truly Confident?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Marcel Schwantes
Marcel Schwantes is principal and co-founder of Leadership from the Core, a servant leadership development, training and coaching company with a secret sauce for creating better bosses and even better cultures that impact the bottom line. Visit his company’s website at or subscribe here for a free webinar – “Eight Common Management Mistakes that Lead to Turnover.”