Skip to content

The Five Types of Doubt (#38)

The Confident Leader

Leaders no longer have to endlessly suffer leadership doubt or settle for living with it.  Defeat doubt and complete your confidence by understanding the Five Types of Leadership Doubt.

“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.”
— Tom Landry (former coach of the Dallas Cowboys)

This Week’s Edition

CONFIDENCE: While 70% confident is high, it still represents 30% doubt. 

Clarify Your Thinking

“Robin, I’m really struggling with doubt. I’m usually more confident,” said Gavin, a tenured CEO of a large company.


All successful leaders experience doubt. It comes with the job. The leaders I work with find themselves in challenging situations: pursuing big visions while navigating turbulent markets. Their leadership is an off-road experience. Conventional leadership advice offers little insight about leadership doubt.


“It doesn’t make sense. I’m accomplished and generally effective. I wouldn’t have the top job if I wasn’t. I can’t stand doubting an aspect of my leadership. I’ve got to fix it,” Gavin continued.


Frustrated by the mere presence of doubt, the otherwise self-assured leader will try anything to regain confidence. When efforts to move the needle on the confidence meter fail, doubt increases and confidence slips.


“I hope no one finds out. If they do, I might lose everything. Their trust. My effectiveness. Their followership. My job.” Gavin said.


Leaders don’t talk about their doubt. You won’t hear a leader say, “I doubt my ability to lead you. I doubt our company’s vision. I doubt your ability to do your job.”


Talking about doubt is tantamount to professional suicide. Leaders choose to suffer silently.  Convention tells us, leaders are supposed to be fully confident… all the time!


post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Doubt changes a skilled leader’s performance every time.  Knowing your Doubt Type is the first step toward solving it.


What’s Wrong with Them

This leader initially questions their team, who they believe is failing to perform. Deep down the leader’s doubt turns inward, “Have I not been able to create the relationship with my team that generates followership, commitment and ownership?”


This leader’s instinct is to push the team aside and do the work themselves. This approach risks alienation and attrition, but the leader thinks, “Turnover might be a good solution. Out with the old and in with the new.”



This leader questions their priorities. “I’m working hard. Why don’t all these efforts produce my desired results?”


Their instinct is to work harder and start more new things. After realizing there are no more hours in the day to get it all done, this leader’s doubt emerges, “If I were an effective leader, I wouldn’t feel so scattered. Maybe my team wouldn’t either.”


Lost My Mojo

This leader questions their leadership approach. Due to significant internal changes or industry disruption, their confidence in their tried-and-true leadership approach is shaken. They just don’t get the results they used to.


Their instinct is to change nothing… keep the status quo. “Maybe if I keep plugging away something will change, but I’m growing skeptical with each passing day.”


Deer in the Headlights

This leader questions their own ideas as neither strategic nor effective. They are paralyzed. “I don’t know what to do next. I’m stuck!”


Their instinct is to slow down. Their leadership doubt tells them, “I’ll analyze more and wait and see.”


In Over My Head

This leader questions their ability to lead in their current role despite their widely accepted experience and training. Overly focused on their failures, they feel out of place and awkward.  “I wonder when the higher ups are going to let me go.”


Their instinct is self-preservation. Their doubt supports that instinct, “I just want to live to fight another day, or maybe I should quit before they fire me.”

Boost Your Performance

For leaders, it’s not about never doubting. It’s what you do in the face of that doubt. If doubt is a murky cloud hanging over your leadership, it’s not readily apparent what to do. When doubt can be defined, it can be solved. Join us for the next five weeks as we explore each of the Five Doubt Types.

What’s Your Opinion?

What Doubt Type resonates with you?  Let me know at

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

Let’s Connect

Follow me on Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Let’s Do This!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.