How to have the confidence to be a great leader

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How to have the confidence to be a great leader

The secret ingredient to be a confident leader

Given November 2020 is Men’s Mental Health month we asked Zentano’s founding Director Dave Morris how he overcame adversity and a lack of confidence to become a well-respected coach and the co-creator of Connected Leadership ™, the new way to lead in a complex and uncertain world. Here are his thoughts and top tips.

Falling into the kaleidoscopic vortex of death was a fairly regular experience for me as a young boy. It was scary, bewildering and confidence-sapping. At the same time, I was conditioned to think about strong male role models who apparently had no weaknesses, Superman, Dr Who, Roger Moore (James Bond & The Persuaders), Blue Peter’s John Noakes, the Six Million Dollar Man and Roy of the Rovers to mention a few. By and large I kept my fears hidden, which with the benefit of hindsight was a big mistake!

This all sounds very dramatic and in many ways it was. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the dreams they fuel are not uncommon. My ACE’s were an absent biological father from the age of 3, the death of my stepfather when I was 9 and being subjected to bullying at school. The impact of this challenging start to life was repressed emotions flipping at times into emotional outbursts, a lack of direction, a loss of confidence and an inability to find my voice and speak up.

So how has this helped me become a good leader and more importantly someone who helps others grow their businesses through the power of great leadership. Here are 5 mantras based on the things that I have learnt.


My past doesn’t have to define my future

Our mind plays tricks on us. Our bad experiences in life can sometimes leave scars that may trigger unhelpful stories which can be self-limiting. I have learnt that the fears we all have, especially when change is thrust upon us, can drive very unhelpful, emotionally charged stories that we buy into. But what if those stories aren’t real, i.e. they are based on a subjective perception rather than objective reality.

TIP 1 – MANAGE YOUR MINDSET! Challenge the beliefs and stories that hold you back. Self-awareness driven by an enquiring, curious mind can be hugely enlightening and ultimately empowering and confidence building. Closing the gap between your view of self and how others view you will help you capitalise on your strengths and ensure you are aware of your blind spots. After all you can’t change what you’re not aware of!


Being vulnerable is a sign of strength

You’ve heard the phrases, “man-up”, “grow a pair” and “keep a stiff upper lip”. If the sentiment behind the use of such phrases is never show weakness however, then the advice is likely to be flawed. There is a time and place for being vulnerable. That said the world is full of people (especially men) whose mental well-being is, or has been, severely impacted by not asking for help at an appropriate time.

In my early days when I needed that someone, I had my grandfather, a man ahead of his time and the inspiration behind my sense of purpose and the reason why Zentano exists. His own life experiences meant that he understood the importance of being able to express vulnerability, albeit in a safe environment. For me he created that environment.

TIP 2 – FIND YOUR TRUSTED SOUNDING-BOARD. Many of my clients use me primarily for this purpose. Finding someone with whom you can be totally honest, someone who is non-judgmental, who demonstrates empathy, compassion and allows you to explore your feelings and find solutions to your challenges can be liberating.


Be true to who you are and learn to flex

Human beings are designed to live in social groups. It makes us feel secure. The problem with living in groups though is how we fit in. It feels good to be accepted, valued, listened to and dare I say it liked! Ultimately though we can’t fit in and be liked by everyone. We need to formulate our own views, make our own decisions and challenge others when it’s appropriate to do so. Being true to who we are gives us integrity and makes us trustworthy, two very important attributes for any great leader.

TIP 3 – BE AWARE OF YOUR CORE VALUES. Understand how your values shape and impact your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Use this knowledge to guide your decision-making and to flex your leadership style, balancing being directive vs non-directive and supportive vs challenging.


Your destiny is a journey not an outcome

It took me many years to find my WHY and use this to act as my guiding light for life and career decisions. To use an analogy, a strong sense of purpose is the true north on your moral compass.

It was my grandfather who taught me that a thirst for learning and a focus on small forward steps was the secret to happiness and fulfilment. Humility and curiosity will make the journey through life much more rewarding and fun. Work out what type of leader you want to be, what environment you want to create and how you will become that person.

TIP 4 – BE PATIENT AND TAKE SMALL STEPS. Explore how you learn best, tap into the natural curiosity you had when you were young and work out what small steps will take you towards your goals and ambitions.


Feel the tension, find the balance

We are all a complex mix of values, beliefs, memories and the narratives these generate. These can be both helpful and harmful and this drama plays out in our brains often creating internal tension and stress. Processing the fog our brains experience requires conscious effort. My grandfather’s method of dealing with this was to take daily nature walks and engage in journaling. These habits grounded him and allowed him to find balance in his life. As a result, he was renowned for his calm and measured approach to even the most difficult of problems.

TIP 5 – JOURNALING IS THE SECRET TO BEING A CONFIDENT LEADER. Journaling takes many forms and has many uses. For more information please read our blog:

Zentano recommend Bullet Journaling as a great way of bringing greater focus and more clarity of thought into your life. For more information please click here:

We hope these top tips are helpful, please feel free to share them with others. Please follow Zentano on LinkedIn here for more articles and top tips:

To find out more about Connected Leadership ™ please click here:

To book a Zoom call with Dave to find out more about how Zentano can help you ensure your business growth is built on the foundations of Connected Leadership™ please click: