Great Leaders Instill Confidence


In the current work environment, where so many leaders and employees are working from home, it’s more important than ever for leaders to lead with confidence, and instill confidence in their teams.  These are confusing times, for both leaders and those they lead. The situation seems to evolve daily. Opportunities for confusion and frustration occur daily.

We want our teams to have as much CONFIDENCE as possible, in order to be as productive as possible. Confidence in what?

  • Confidence in their leader
  • Confidence in the directions they’re given
  • Confidence that their work will produce the right results
  • Confidence that they’re doing what is expected of them

If our team members can have confidence in their work, they can do their work with courage (rather than fear), creativity and a high level of commitment. But confusion leads to disengagement quickly. I don’t believe we can expect courage, creativity and commitment from our teams if they don’t have confidence.

And we can’t expect our team members to have confidence if they don’t have clarity. That’s why one of the most important things we can give to our employees any time, but especially now, is clarity.  Clarity about what?

  • Clarity about the values that should be driving their work decisions
  • Clarity about the goals they should be working toward
  • Clarity about the strategies the team should be employing to get the job done
  • Clarity about the team’s highest priority tasks
  • Clarity about how you, the leader, are operating in your own work life
  • Clarity about your expectations of their work
  • Clarity about what’s non-negotiable and what’s flexible

And here’s a good rule of thumb: A confident “I don’t know, but I’ll find out,” is better than bluffing. Bad information and bluffing erode confidence and trust, so be honest when you don’t know an answer.

When it comes to our expectations of the team, it’s important that we’re abundantly clear as to where they have autonomy to make decisions and get things done, and where they don’t. The clearer we are about what’s non-negotiable, the more confidence we can have in giving them autonomy for the rest.

In times that are stressful for our teams, it’s important to remember that autonomy in doing their work is one of the most motivating things we can give them, especially if they are working remotely. Knowing that they are trusted to manage their time and work load will cause them to trust their leadership more in return. I know of an organization that is using Skype to monitor employees staying glued to their work computers at home. Leadership is notified if there’s been no key stroke on the employee’s computer after five minutes, and employees are then questioned about what they’re doing with their time. This is deteriorating trust rapidly, at a time when the leaders should be trying to build confidence in their teams more than ever.

The best way I know for being abundantly clear with our teams is through the process of developing a personal leadership philosophy. This is a tool for instilling confidence, for ourselves and for those we lead. This is where we nail down our values, operating principles, team priorities, clear expectations, non-negotiables, and even our pet peeves and personal idiosyncrasies. Most leaders have never done this. But I’ve coached hundreds of leaders through this process in the last five years through the Leader’s Compass Workshop from Academy Leadership, and the testimonials and stories from these leaders are extraordinary! Here are some examples.

“Writing my personal leadership philosophy is a wonderful way to define and share my style and I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier.”

-Tim, Senior Business Data Analyst, UC San Diego

“It is a very comprehensive leadership philosophy training that will help you learn about yourself and how you can use that knowledge to work with others to make more effective leaders.”

-Duyen, Assistant Director, UC San Diego

“The creation of my Personal Leadership Philosophy was a great exercise in clarity and communication with my team.”

-Steven, Associate Vice Chancellor, UC San Diego

If you would like to schedule a virtual, live Leader’s Compass Workshop for your team, just message me and we’ll get you and your team on your way to greater clarity, confidence and productivity.

Stay safe.


Published by Jay

Jay Pullins has been leading and developing leaders in a variety of settings for over 25 years. He has a diverse background as a military officer, an appointed public official, and executive leader of Alaska’s largest church. Jay is the founder and owner of Anchorage-based Catapult Leadership Solutions, providing expertise in developing the character and competency of leaders in all sectors. A 1989 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Jay led U.S. and multi-national teams for the U.S. Air Force, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), NORAD, and the Alaska National Guard. He led combat crews as an Air Battle Manager in Operation DESERT STORM, the conflicts in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, and counter-drug operations in Central and South America. Jay retired as an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel in 2011. Jay served as Chief of Staff to the Lieutenant Governor, then Special Assistant to the Governor of Alaska. He also served as Executive Pastor of ChangePoint church for five years. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the US Air Force Academy, and a Master’s Degree in Adult Education from the University of Oklahoma. He serves as a consultant and coach to church leaders for 3dMovements, and serves on the Board of Directors for Beyond Borders and the Conflict Resolution Center. Jay and his wife, Sonia, live in Anchorage, Alaska, and have two grown sons.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: