Becoming a Confident Leader

Several times in my career I have been the presenter who followed John Maxwell. I’m sure you can imagine what it’s like to speak right after one of the best motivational leadership experts in the world. I often would think, Why couldn’t I be the warm-up band instead?

I learned to overcome these thoughts and grab hold of truth: God had opened a door and I was there for a reason. If I didn’t believe in myself, no one else would. That is a leadership reality none of us can escape.

Insecurities can rob us of the confidence we need as leaders. The more we mature and live both in freedom and truth, the more secure in Christ we become. The insecure moments then become few and far between, and we overcome them quickly.


The first step to building your confidence is identifying how insecurities manifest themselves.

People Pleasing. Worrying about what people think of you can lead to the literally impossible task of trying to make everyone happy. Deep down you know you can’t, but insecurity can make you try, resulting in frustration and, ultimately, resentment. It’s far better to be your authentic self. It’s not only more meaningful, but it strengthens your confidence.

Defensive Behavior. When you get defensive, you are usually attempting to protect something—your turf, your position, your ideas or something else you feel is yours. It is natural to try to protect yourself if you are insecure about what might happen to you, how you may be perceived or whether you may lose ground or be reduced as a person. But instead of letting defensiveness get the best of you, take a deep breath, count to seven and wait before you speak. Assess what’s actually true, organize your thoughts and reengage the conversation with a different, more confident, frame of mind.

Performance Orientation. The performance trap is easy to step into and tough to get out of. In the local church, a leader can receive considerable praise and reward for working hard, even for overworking. If you get caught in this trap you will soon see that no matter what you do, in your mind it’s never enough. If you attempt to overcome insecurity with achievement, it will be a vicious circle.

Remember, your security is in who you are, not what you do. When you are freed up to be you, you will become good at what you do, and that is an incredible stabilizer to your confidence.


Being aware of your self-doubts and taking decisive steps to overcome them in light of your security in Christ will make you a confident leader worth following. Here are four ways to deal with a lack of confidence.

Talk to a Trusted Friend. Isolation can cause you to lose perspective and get you stuck spinning in your own thoughts. Overthinking can lead to obsession, which intensifies insecurity.

It may not be easy to be vulnerable about your weaknesses and struggles, but talking to a friend is one of the best things you can do. Just verbalizing your worries helps, and when you confide in a wise friend who will speak the truth in love, you will make progress.

Identify Your Triggers. Knowing your personal patterns will help you overcome what triggers your insecurities because you can better focus on the source and the solutions.

For example, a young pastor I’ve been coaching is reluctant to speak up in meetings for fear of looking foolish. The trigger in this case is feeling embarrassed when asked a question by someone he perceived to be a better leader. The silence had become a nemesis because others perceived him as lacking in confidence and being reluctant to lead.

Focus on Your Strengths. It’s good to know your weak areas, but it’s better to focus on developing the things you are good at. This process begins by discovering over time what you are good at doing. Then you need to practice mastering your craft. You’ll appreciate how your confidence grows as you get better at what you do. But remember, it always starts with who you are.

Remember Your Identity in Christ. Belief in yourself and belief that God is with you will help you lead effectively. This belief is an essential element of your leadership confidence. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us, we are a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here.

It’s important that you possess a genuine and consistent belief in yourself as a leader, but believing in yourself doesn’t mean an independent self-reliance. Believing in yourself reflects knowing God is with you and that you are dependent upon him. It’s an unshakeable belief that you are in this together, always remembering that truth will lift your belief that you can lead.

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Dan Reiland
Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and the author of several books including Confident Leader! Become One, Stay One (Thomas Nelson).