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Leading Beyond Self-Doubt

Self-belief is intrinsic to good leadership.

Stephen Light



Self-Doubt-in-Business-Leading-Business Leadership

Entrepreneurs are brilliant at taking ideas and turning them into reality. As a business grows, so does the need for people with skills in all areas. This is when most entrepreneurs require leadership skills to ensure people help the business thrive.

A great leader is someone who knows who they are. The single most limiting belief of any successful leader is self-doubt. One of the biggest fears that leaders in today’s modern world have is being discovered to be a fraud.

When I first heard this statement I was really intrigued. Was this the inner saboteur that most leaders carried around with them? Could this possibly be the driver of arrogant aggressive behaviours that are synonymous with “getting the job done?”

I am not suggesting that all leaders behave aggressively and arrogantly. My experience has shown me that when the pressure is on, most leaders resort to an aggressive approach to achieving results. I call this a positional leadership approach.

Positional leaders

Leaders who use the power afforded by their position and title to get people to do the job invariably have an inability to manage themselves. They lack a solid foundation of self-belief that drives a healthy esteem.

They doubt that a caring and firm assertive approach will get compliance. This doubt, coupled with many past experiences of aggression getting results, is the evidence they use to justify their approach.

Look at organisations you work in and have worked in. Notice who gets promoted and what type of behaviour is rewarded. I guarantee that it is mostly people who get results and that these people mostly get their results through people, not with them. Aggression and fear are the unwritten rules of the culture.

Symptoms include gossiping, poorly handled conflict, broken relationships, people’s contribution seldom recognised.

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You Can Be Inspiring Regardless of Your Leadership Style. Find Out More Here.


Servant leaders

Servant leaders are leaders who achieve with others. They know themselves and have a healthy appreciation and deep respect for the person they are. They have self-belief. Being challenged by others does not diminish them in any way.

They see challenges as a sign of a healthy work environment where people are allowed to explore and express their views.

Servant leaders encourage conflict and know they can manage it. They want people to get meaning from their work and know this is what will drive fulfillment and a commitment to business. This will have people bring their hearts to work.

This approach requires a leader who is willing to be wrong, willing to listen beyond the words and hear the request behind people’s challenges. These leaders lead beyond self-doubt.

The impact on you

My experience of coaching leaders is that they have a huge fear of being discovered that they actually don’t know how to lead people. This is what they tell themselves.

This limiting belief drives self-doubt and has leaders resort to positional leadership where a fear driven culture is created and authority is not challenged. This way they cannot be found out.

Your journey to being a great leader is one of self-discovery. The more you get to know yourself and love yourself, the more self-belief you have. Self-belief is the antidote to self-doubt.

Great leaders are ordinary people who have learned to genuinely care about themselves. They have no need for external validation as they have healthy self-esteem.

These leaders do the right thing versus what will have people like them or promote them. They can handle criticism and are flexible to changing where required. This is all possible, as they have invested in the most important person – themselves.

Growing self-belief

There are many ways we can grow our self-belief. What I have come to know is that the more I invest in myself, the stronger I am as a person. I trust myself and I trust in the process of life.

  • Don’t compare yourself to others – you are unique
  • Spend 10 minutes every morning and evening quietly focusing on your breath. This creates an inner space for self-management
  • Celebrate your achievements
  • Acknowledge your ‘failings’ and seek the lessons
  • Read and grow your knowledge and understanding of your area of business
  • Trust people by asking them “What do you think?” This will help grow humility.

The world needs leaders who care about others. We can only care about others and demonstrate this in leadership when we care about ourselves. The shift is from self-doubt to self-belief. The key word is self. Only you can give it to yourself.

Stephen Light is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, an Associate Certified Coach and an Organisational Relationship Systems Coach. Light assists people and teams to become aware of what is holding them back and then to become conscious and intentional about how they want to be in relationship with themselves and their teams. He helps businesses get teams on track, creating alliances that have teams work from a place of alignment versus the position of difference. He teaches people to understand who they are and why they behave the way they do. Light helps people become responsible and accountable for their lives and the lives of those they impact on. People Activ



How To Make Speedy Decisions As A Leader

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Dirk Coetsee




“Trusting one another, however can never mean trusting with the lip and mistrusting in the heart.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Self-trust is the first secret of success” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Rapid decision-making

Harvard research has identified amongst other key traits of the most successful CEOs’ of Fortune 500 companies the ability to make decisions quickly and act on them at a rapid speed albeit with the inherent acknowledgement that they might get it wrong forty percent of the time.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

Why is speedy decision making and a rapid pace of execution so critical? Top leaders know that making quick decisions combined with swift execution creates a much better chance of success as opposed to very slow and bureaucratic verdicts underpinned by little or no action.

When there is a high level of distrust amongst the stakeholders in any entrepreneurial venture literally everything slows down as negative arguments ensue and takes up an enormous amount of precious time. Forced action underpinned by distrust loses quality and speed and can potentially bring a business to its knees.

“The speed of trust” is therefore an extremely valuable principle that all Leaders should live by, that is if they wish to serve a higher purpose than themselves and others. Those Leaders whom have developed a high level of self-trust and have earned the trust of their team members have put themselves in the very advantageous position of being empowered to move towards their vision at a rapid pace through quickfire decisions positively multiplied by confident and competent execution.

“The speed of trust” does not mean that decisions are made without careful consideration and stakeholder input putting the level of quality of execution at imminent risk. It simply means that the decision-making process is quicker than most as mistrust does not cast unnecessary shadows of doubt over the intentions and ambitions of all the stakeholders.

A Leader or Leaders whom has fostered self-trust within themselves will not go through lengthy spells of procrastination that those whom lack self -awareness and suffer from severe self- doubt has to go through.

How do I execute at the speed of trust?

How do I practically bring the principle of the “speed of trust” to fruition within my business? Firstly, ensure that this critical principal is applied throughout all business processes which starts with hiring trustworthy people and by working those out of the business whom cannot be trusted.  Secondly, as  a Leader your actions and words echo throughout every aspect of the business therefore do what you say you are going to do. Admit to your mistakes and fix them.

Thirdly be authentic in your pursuit of the vision of your business. One of the possible ways to achieve that is by being a visible and living example of the business values that you advocate as a leader.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Lastly in order for you to be trusted as a leader you must first show trust in others. Trust others by giving them more responsibility and verbalise your high level of trust in your team members. Passionately speak about this principle and its positive fruits at every opportunity. Make the practical display of this principle by employees or any other stakeholders known to all stakeholders and be lavish with your praise when anyone is willing to earn the trust of other team members.

A very good example of this principle in action was embodied by the Supreme Russian commander, Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov whom never lost a battle and was respected by both his men and his enemies. He earned the trust of his men by being amongst them as often as he could, by sharing their hardships and by offering them the most authentic and quality military training known to man within that period of history.

Suvorov was a humble student of warfare and documented every detail of his learning experiences which included setbacks that he faced. He observed the morale of his men first hand and ensured that he inspired them not only through his inspiring speeches but by being a living example of discipline and bravery.

I will leave the reader with an important question to ponder, one that has echoed throughout history: Do you trust enough to be trusted?

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What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Your effectiveness in scaling your business starts with the kind of leader you are. Here’s how you can build yourself up into a leader others will follow.

Nicholas Haralambous




When you are in start-up mode it’s tough to take a step back and think about the kind of leader you are or want to be. Most of the time you’re fighting to keep your business alive, never mind think about how you lead.

This is especially challenging when it’s faster and more efficient to just step up and do things yourself. It’s easier for you to make the decisions, do the work, check the work, follow up on the work, etc. However, it’s this situation that prevents young companies from scaling to the next level.

Ask More Questions

I work really hard every day to be quieter. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail so dismally that I actually do more damage than good. You see, I like to talk. I like to hear other people talk and I like to bash around ideas until they become something bigger, something better and something that can move from idea into action.

Related: Your Leadership Journey Starts Now… And Go!

Coupled with liking to talk, I also like being right. Who doesn’t? Add onto these two things the fact that I like to read and research and then throw in a teeny bit of ego or pride and it’s a recipe for leadership disaster.

If I am the most well-read, loudest and most opinionated person in a meeting then all that happens is that I end up pitching an idea, getting everyone to agree with this idea and then assigning the work on the idea to become a reality. Basically, I am working with, for and amongst myself. It’s an echo chamber that leads to bad ideas surviving and an unhappy team leaving.

The Collective Is More Intelligent Than the Individual

As a leader and founder, you probably feel like you are the person with the best understanding of the problem you are trying to solve and the best person to solve the problem. This can lead to a dictatorial approach to leadership, team inclusion and problem solving. You have an idea, you tell your team and they do what you tell them.

If this is how you do it then I have to ask you a simple question: Why did you hire smart people? Just so you could tell them what to do? If that’s the case rather hire capable but cheap people, not the best.

Your best people are there to help you scale your business beyond your own thinking and time. There are a set amount of hours in the day. There are only so many emails you can answer in your day.

A good example in my business is customer support. We pride ourselves in our impeccable customer service online and offline. I can’t physically answer every question posed by customers but I can hire incredible colleagues, entrust them with my vision and views on our customers and then trust them to go out and use their good judgement.

Work With The Best

Here’s the kicker to being a good leader: You need to work with the best people.

This is not something I say as a passing statement. I want you to stop reading right now and think about the ten people you interact with at your company every day. Are they the best people you could be working with? If not, why not? How do you find the best people and bring them into your business? Go and do that.

Related: You’re The Boss, So Be The Boss

It’s important to work with the best for two very simple reasons.

Working with the best people pushes you to be better. If you are literally the smartest person in the room in every aspect of your business it means that you are surrounded by subpar players and you are not learning anything. The people around you are meant to educate you and push your business into places you didn’t even know were there.

Second, working with the best people attracts other incredible people. If you have a business full of average team members, can you guess what kind of people they pull towards your business? More average or less than average people. Why? Because average people don’t want to be surrounded by incredible people. If they are, they look worse and not better.

It’s incredibly difficult to be a good leader all of the time. In fact, it’s close to impossible. What you can do is try to be a leader who communicates, learns and grows with your team in an open manner.

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All The Business Wisdom You Need From 4 Famous Entrepreneurs

Combine the knowledge of the greatest entrepreneurs with your own hard earned lessons.

Brian Hamilton



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There’s a lot of deification of entrepreneur “personalities.” The truth is that a few entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are probably luckier than good. But, some of the praise and deification is warranted. There have been some fantastic business leaders in this country, and one can learn a ton from studying them. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the four entrepreneurs who have taught me the most over the years.

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