Leadership Spotlight

Believe in Your Own Leadership 

Stock image of a group of blue dominoes falling, with one row held firm by a lone red domino.


Leadership can be a frightening calling, so much so that I have engaged numerous police executives who have had serious doubts about their own abilities. This arduous conversation, typically, starts off with the following reface: “I’m not sure if I’m meant for this job.” After listening to these leaders, I have come to a general assessment as to why we have this “crisis of doubt” in our leadership. It really comes down to four possibilities or a combination of these variants: Credibility, consistency, temperament, and trust. I then ask them several questions to help resolve this leadership crisis.

Are you credible? This first variant forms the foundation by which others judge leaders and should serve as the same when assessing ourselves. Do you have the skill sets necessary for success in your leadership role? Would you want to be on an aircraft piloted by someone without a pilot’s license? Followers expect a certain level of credibility of their leaders. If the answer is “no,” then what are you doing to remove this credibility gap from your mind and, certainly, from the minds of your followers. 

Are you consistent? This is not to be confused with inflexibility. For example, do you doubt your own ability to make fair and consistent decisions? You know that leaders are comfortable with their leadership abilities when others view them as a reference point for making reliable and dependable decisions. It is similar to a group of people lost in the desert, only for someone to place a stick in the ground to give them a reference—a point where they need to go.

Do you have the right temperament for the leadership role you currently serve in? Some leaders’ temperament does not match the situational event or circumstances. It is expected that a drill sergeant will yell at new recruits because they have yet to establish their own sense of credibility. However, it is unwise to illicit such temperaments outside a process of change and employee competence. In other words, does your personal temperament match the leadership temperament conducive to organizational success?

And, finally, Do you trust your own leadership? This particularly arduous question requires a tremendous amount of emotional intelligence. It is one thing to have doubt—this is normal. However, it is an altogether different situation when not trusting your own leadership ability given the situation. The most compelling component about this question is if the answer is “yes,” then why should anyone trust your leadership if you do not. The tool to resolving this self-imposed crisis of leadership is to make a courageous effort to constantly improve on your leadership competencies. It begins with a frank accounting of harsh, yet honest, questions regarding your own leadership ability and then seeking the mechanisms and career experiences to better yourself as a leader.

This only comes via time, trial, and, yes, removing the fear of error. You are only as great a leader as you decide to be. Why not be a great leader! 

Special Agent J.E. Granderson, an instructor in Faculty Affairs and Development at the FBI Academy, prepared this Leadership Spotlight. 

“It really comes down to four possibilities or a combination of these variants….”