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Good Leadership is a Threat. (#191)

TCL Illustration 191

The Confident Leader


Josh, a CEO, shared that his team was upset about challenges with a project he had authorized. They bluntly reminded him of their initial objection before starting the project. His atypical response could be considered a threat.

“I would rather get it right than be right.”


This Week’s Edition

Good leadership is sometimes a perceived threat to your reputation as it will require you to do things counterintuitive to self-preservation. 

Clarify Your Thinking

The team’s I-told-you-so attitude triggered Josh. He described to me his immediate flood of thoughts: 

  • My team is not seeing the big picture.
  • Stop complaining. Sometimes things are hard. 
  • They need to do the work and be happy they’re getting paid.

Josh went on to say, “But, I didn’t take the bait, Robin. You would have been so proud of me. I didn’t react in the moment. While that’s real progress, I do have to respond to them at some point to resolve the issue.” 

“What’s your plan?” I asked.

“Well, I’ve been working on being more empathetic. So, if I think about the situation from their perspective, they’ve got a point. I pushed the project, and now they’re having to deal with the mess.” Josh said. 

“It’s probably a good leadership move to admit when I got it wrong. I think I am going to apologize to them. Anything less might be inauthentic and hamper the relationship. I want to model for them what I expect from them.”

Old Thinking: The secret leadership code says: don’t admit to making a mistake. I don’t want them to think I don’t know what I am doing or that I can’t lead them well. 

New Thinking: Admitting I made a mistake is the right thing to do, and I think the vulnerability might grow my relationship with the team.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Being a good leader can be a threat. It can threaten your ego, because it may require you to do things you perceive will lessen your reputation or stature as the leader. Being a good leader may require you, at times, to admit that you: 

  • Are wrong.
  • Don’t know what to do next.
  • Don’t have clarity about the future vision.
  • Question a key aspect of your leadership.

Self-preservation is often at odds with being a good leader. Leaders are meant to serve their team, not themselves. 

Good leaders are confident leaders. Confident leaders recognize they don’t always have the answer. And when they question themselves, they enlist others to collaborate, thereby getting more information to make better decisions.

How can you move past the instinct to protect yourself?

Step 1: Reflect on each of your current leadership challenges.

Step 2: Determine if your current actions (or inactions) are an attempt to protect an aspect of who you think you need to be as a leader:

  • The need to be right.
  • Fear of being found to not have all the answers.
  • Lost in confusion and ashamed you don’t have better clarity.
  • Feeling less than qualified because you question your leadership. 

Step 3: Identify one person you can talk to and share your thoughts.

Josh put aside the perceived threat to his ego and apologized by admitting he had made a mistake. His team was surprised at first but received him well. They reconciled their differences and came together to work through the project’s challenges. Josh believed the entire experience strengthened their working relationship

Boost Your Performance

The Confident Leader newsletter is designed to help you win your leadership week, equipping you for the coming five days. Every year you get 52 attempts to get it right. Let’s take it one week at a time. Let’s win the week! 

What’s Your Opinion?

What is something you need to address that is a perceived threat to your leadership stature? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 


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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.