The scale of confidence

A blast or a whimper? Too much or too little self-belief damages your effectiveness and promotability. How do you pitch it correctly? MT lifecoach Miranda Kennett advises.

Confidence is a double-edged sword. We love it as a quality in our leaders: their self-belief and apparent certainty of direction tend to make us good followers. But when confidence shades into arrogance and overweaning self-belief, we fear its consequences - and rightly.

Consider Tony Blair when he first led the Labour party to victory in 1997. Everything about him said confidence. After the sartorial gaffes of Michael Foot, Blair's sharp suits and red tie conveyed the same confidence as his cultured voice, his handsome features and clear-eyed demeanour. First among equals, the New Labour leader was visibly on the front foot.

Fast-forward to more recent times and the self-confidence appears to have tipped over into unshakeable belief that he is right on every issue. Blair, according to some of his ex-colleagues in Cabinet, no longer consults his ministers and has ceased to listen to any adviser who has the temerity to produce facts that conflict with the path he has already decided to take.

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