Where does your confidence come from as a leader?

Is it developed? Is it largely based on experience?

Is confidence gained through doing things right and achieving success? If so, what happens to your confidence when you don’t do things right?

These are complicated questions, and it’s something all of us must wrestle with.

No leader has all the answers. If we’re truly leading, none of us ever are fully confident. If you are indeed leading, you’re attempting to make progress in new territory. You are attempting to do something you have not done before. It’s new; it’s your next.

The point is if you are leading people from where they are to a preferred future, you are out in front. Whether you’re the senior pastor leading the entire church or a volunteer leader of a small group of eight people, you need confidence.

You need genuine confidence to know you are heading in the right direction, at the right time, and making the right decisions that will help you get there.

So where does your confidence come from?

The full process of developing leadership confidence involves several elements, but where you start the process matters.

The first question boils down to ability or identity? Which is your foundation?

They are both important and are obviously connected.

It’s very common for leaders to lean into ability first. That is, what you can do.

But here’s the problem, if you base your confidence first on what you can do, ABILITY, rather than who you are, IDENTITY, the first time you strike out, mess up or fail, your confidence crashes. It’s incredibly easy to sink into self-doubt and begin to second guess yourself. It’s a downward spiral from there.

The remedy is to always begin with your identity first. Think “identity over ability.” That does not dismiss the significance of your ability, but it keeps both elements in their proper order.

When your confidence is based on “who you are,” over “what you can do,” and you fail, you know that you are not a “failure” as a person. You will possess the strength to look yourself in the mirror and face the fact that you failed in that particular experience alone, without feeling like a failure. Then you can look at ability and figure out where you need to grow as a leader.

A confident personal identity allows people to trust you and connect with you because you aren’t trying to “perform” through ability. They first trust you, then what you can do. Yes, you need to be good at what you do, but if you want to go the distance, your identity must always be your foundation.

Strengthening the foundation of your identity:

1) Deepen your security in Christ.

Understanding the full measure of grace and forgiveness Jesus has provided gives you great strength. The gifts He has given you begin to better align with your calling, and when your calling is clear your confidence rises.

2) Pay attention to your self-awareness.

When you are secure in Christ, you are free to be honest about who you are. You possess a sense of personal freedom, so you don’t have to worry about what others think. This allows you to gain a better sense of your true strengths and weaknesses, emotional intelligence, ability to connect, empathize and understand how others see you. Over time, this provides a huge boost in confidence.

3) Accept truth from trusted advisors.

God never expected you to figure all this out on your own. Wise counsel is a gift from God that is opened when you seek it. Establish a very small group of trusted voices that know you, love you and who are smart and strong. Listen to what they say! We all have our blind spots. We can’t see what we can’t see. Let a very select group of people speak truth into your life.

4) Avoid attempting perfection at all costs.

You may be your own toughest critic. Most leaders have high standards, and sometimes too high.

It’s like the student who gets straight A’s in school. She focuses so hard on continuing the legacy of straight A’s that she will sacrifice nearly anything, including literally her education, the very thing she goes to school for.

If you shoot for straight A’s, you won’t try new things. You’ll play it safe. You won’t take risks. You’ll do just what it takes to make the machine work, but you won’t lean into your true capacity, the power of God through prayer!

You will never get it all right. You won’t be perfect. Don’t let the perfection quest rob you of joy, creativity and ultimately becoming a better leader.


There is much more to the topic of leadership confidence but start here; identity over ability.