Courage over Confidence: May 2019

David Graham April 30, 2019

Coaching Tips, Leadership Insights, Monthly Newsletter

I am often surprised when I am coaching a leader who tells me that they need to work on their confidence. This is not something that they typically share with their team, but a confidential coaching session provides a safe space to explore those emotions.

As leaders, we learn early on that our outward confidence is critical to our success. Our teams and stakeholders look to us for reassurance, so we create a façade of confidence, even though we may not feel it on the inside.

And apparently, this is not uncommon. Martha Maznevski, Faculty Director of Executive Education of the Ivey Business Academy, reviewed 550 development plans of senior leaders and found that over 2/3 of them felt they needed to work on their confidence. And she wasn’t referring to “up-and-comers” or even emerging leaders — these were senior executives.

I find this mind blowing! So, what’s the solution?

Martha explained that as leaders, we are taking our teams to places we’ve never been before, so we are constantly realigning ourselves for the next step ahead. Her recommendation is that rather than focus on our confidence, we should build our courage.

Consider the impact of bringing a courageous approach to your leadership style and how that might shift the culture of your business. An example might be to share some of your struggles with your team and brainstorm potential solutions together. We like to appear strong in front of the team, but if they never see you sweat, how can they learn to be courageous leaders themselves?

Next time you need a good old confidence boost, lean into courage and ask yourself these self-coaching questions:

  • When did I access my bravery in the past?
  • What lessons have I learned that I can apply to the current situation?
  • Who are my trusted advisors who will support me or guide me?

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

For more inspiration on courageous leadership check out our resources below. Want to build a culture of brave leaders in your organization? I am here to help you construct the plan.

Courageously yours,


David Graham

Dave coaches good leaders who want to be great leaders and he works with leaders to build high performing, super-focused teams. For transformational experiences, he takes teams out of the boardroom and into nature.