This one leadership trait is way more important than confidence

Very few people would disagree with the idea that confidence is a cornerstone of leadership. But behind the confidence of every inspiring leader lies a way more important trait: the ability to inspire change in themselves — and therefore inspire change in others. 

“If I’m able to get the people around me working with me to engage themselves into the idea of their own personal development, and by extension the development of whatever work or cause they’re part of, then that is going to have the biggest payoff for everybody involved,” says Bob Babinski, an elite performance coach for corporate executives. 

The continuous pursuit of self-improvement and growth inspires others to follow suit. And it tends to precede the confidence that so many of us are quick to admire when we look at leaders in action. Why? True confidence — not to be mistaken with the appearance of confidence that overcompensating for insecurities can project — is rooted in self-awareness and the knowledge there is always room to improve. 

Here are three ways to get on a growth path and stay on it. 

Invest in yourself

From working with coaches and mentors to taking classes and reading books, the best investment you can make is in yourself. Just like financial investments pay off overtime, think about it like compound interest: Your base of knowledge and awareness will exponentially expand as you add more insights to the mix. 

There’s a reason entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Martha Stewart were able to make comebacks after serious, massive setbacks. Nobody can take your skills and abilities away from you. You are your most valuable resource. 

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

The most seemingly confident people in the world experience fear and self-doubt. For example, Meryl Streep is the most nominated actor in the history of the Academy Awards yet she still suffers from stage fright. 

And you know what they say: growth happens outside of your comfort zone. So if you’re on a continuous growth path, you are supposed to feel fear and discomfort. It just means you choose to act anyway.  Embracing this will help you build the unshakeable confidence that comes from trusting you’ll be able to deal with discomfort and uncertainty. 

Stop faking it

It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you have to have all the answers in order to be a respected leader. But admitting when you’re wrong or you’re unsure of something actually builds trust between you and your team. And pretending you always have all the answers can have the opposite effect.

Instead of trying to project the appearance of perfection, aim to lead by example and showcase your efforts to improve yourself. You’ll earn the respect of those around you and give them permission to develop a growth mindset as well.