An essential quality of any leader is self-confidence. At the beginning of my career, I worked in a top-level customer support department and we worked as a very effective team. One day the department manager moved on to another part of the company and a new manager took his place immediately.
The new manager issued multiple new 'decrees' every week telling us how we were going to change everything now that he was the boss. My immediate manager told me quietly that our new department manager had a big inferiority complex and that his aggressiveness and constant list of new rules was to 'prove' that he was the boss. His lack of self-belief caused him to do things to get noticed and to force his command on us. We regularly used our customer records going back as much as five years and yet, despite objections from every single person in the department, he insisted that we destroy all records that were over two years old. As you may have guessed, he was a very poor manager.
If, instead of being afraid of the expertise of his subordinates, he used their expertise for feedback; if perhaps he had asked them for suggestions about how the department could be improved, everybody would have respected him and he would have been a much better manager. Managers need many qualities, but the most important is high self-esteem. If you want to be a leader, then you need to start with your self-esteem.
Self-confidence comes from self-esteem and you develop that from within. While it may be advisable for leaders to take advice from others, to be a really good leader you need to be completely confident in yourself. You need to be clear in your own mind about what advice to take and what advice you can ignore.
Remember that you cannot please everybody and so you will always have critics. Once you have made a decision, stick with it. Be quick to make decisions and slow to change them. This will help you to raise your self-esteem, your self-confidence and to develop leadership qualities.
Even though having low self-esteem is not much fun, it is still very common, so why is that? It is important to realize that we tend to discount our strengths because we don't realize that they are strengths. Whatever comes naturally to you feels easy and because it seems so easy, you will tend to think it is nothing special. On the other hand, those things that feel difficult to us get our attention because we are likely to do a poor job. This inability with those tasks causes us to think that we are somehow deficient because we see other people who seem to manage without problem. Yet those people probably don't consider what they are doing as a strength; it's just something that they find easy to do. While they may wonder why you have difficulty with it, they will also wonder how you do other things that they cannot (and perhaps feel deficient as a result).
If you want to feel happy, then you need to feel good about yourself and to feel worthy as a person. The more you criticize yourself, the worse you feel and the worse you feel, the more likely you are to criticize yourself. So work on the things that you are good at because that will help you to understand your inner strengths. You were born with unique gifts, the combination of which is unique to you; nobody else can be you. Developing these gifts will help you to find enthusiasm, motivation, happiness and fulfillment.
One of your gifts may be an ability at leadership and it may not, yet being a leader in your own way and of your own life is something that will make you feel positive about yourself. Although there is always a strong desire to 'fit in', and be like those around you, if you have the confidence to be different by being yourself, you will find that those others will want to be like you because of their respect for you . They will want to know how you do it, yet to you it is very simple – you are just being yourself.
Set goals and focus on them. The reason that most people are not hugely successful in their lives is simply because they have never set goals. If you never set goals, how can you expect to achieve them? The most successful people in this world have set goals and know exactly what they want to achieve. They are also quite happy to make mistakes because it is only by those mistakes that they learn how to do things even better than last time. Have the courage of your convictions, be confident and focused on what you want to achieve and people will automatically follow you.
And if they do, you will be a leader. Leadership is more about people wanting to follow you and less about attempting to make them do so. It is only when they follow you willingly that you are a true leader. If you have high self-esteem, confidence and self-assuredness, which come from high self-esteem, you have set sensible goals and you work at them, then people will follow you because they will want to be in your company. This is the secret to leadership.