How To Overcome Doubt As A Leader
We’ve all been there. We’re moving along, business is good, and we feel confident and upbeat about the progress we’re making, and then suddenly something happens, and doubt creeps in. For me, new challenges or requirements needed to lead my team can trigger these feelings. These situations can create feelings of inadequacy, and if we’re not careful, we can really mess things up by making decisions rooted in pride instead of humility. This pride can be hard to recognize at times. I can’t afford to make an unwise decision just so others don’t know I’m feeling inadequate. This temptation to hide is rooted in pride.
If this describes you, then you’re not alone. And, you’re right where you should be. Because guess what? Like me, you’re not big enough to do it. You’re not smart enough. So, let the pressure and stress go. When we daily see God as our leader, and He will guide us. We’re in a perfect position when we realize our dependency on God. Then, we can do what He’s called us to do with God’s help and with a few simple steps. Here is what I do:
1. Accept and voice my limitations.
I admit that I don’t always know what I’m doing. I’m often stepping into new territory. While it may initially feel uncomfortable to admit that I’ve never done something before, leading with humility brings huge relief. It breaks down barriers with my team and helps bond us. We corporately acknowledge our reliance on God, and we are more united as we move forward. This approach has a great side effect: it empowers others to use their talents when tackling the situation and learn from the experience rather than always depending on me as the leader.
Many times I’ve prayed honestly to God about my feelings of inadequacy. It often goes something like this: “God, I know you’re calling me up and asking me to do more. But I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how to be a father, a husband, or CEO of a large company. How do I do this?” Most of the time, God reminds me that He is my strength. I can bring Him everything and trust He will provide all I need as I continue to surrender to Him..
3. Seek counsel from other people.
I prioritize time with two groups of people:
● Mentors outside of the company.
I look to Spirit-led mentors who have gone before me. I reach out and ask
questions. I ask for their guidance and prayer. What may seem impossible to
me may be similar to a situation they’ve already walked through. I’d rather learn
from someone else’s experience than make my own trial and error attempts.
● Team members and direct reports.
Sometimes the mentor I need is someone who reports to me. I go to my top-level
leaders all the time. I recognize they’re smarter and have different expertise and
understanding in areas where I have lack. Wise leaders know to surround
themselves with others with high levels of competency.
4. Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
In order to remain successful in business and at life, I have to grow, or else I’m capping myself. To accept new responsibilities and leadership, I have to delegate and empower those around me. I have some incredibly talented people on my team, and we all function better when I trust them to operate at their fullest potential.
I want to help people be better at their jobs, but even more, I want to help them be better people.
Ultimately, it’s my job as a Christian business leader to recognize people’s gifts and then nurture them.
Look, even Jesus was a delegator and empowered His disciples to do great works.
"Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people."
Matthew 14:19 NIV, emphasis added.
Here’s the bottom line: Hire smart people, trust them, and then delegate really well.
We’re all going to feel doubt or inadequacy from time to time. But with prayer, humility, and a willingness to stay teachable, we can grow into new levels of leadership and raise others around us at the same time.