The Con in Con Man is derived from the word… confidence. Con men exude confidence (see: confidence tricks). To attract followers, leaders must play the leadership confidence game. Great potential leaders often lose this game because they refuse to be what they are not. They refuse to model the behavior that subconsciously attracts us puny-brained, less-evolved-than-we-believe, humans as followers.
Great leaders are often thoughtful and humble which are traits that in our feeble little people brains signal, Warning! Warning! Indecisive! Timid! Weak! Danger!
We instinctually whisper to our subconscious to choose our leaders the same way we choose our tribal chieftains. We are looking for warriors to lead us into victory in mortal combat like we were living five thousand years ago. That’s why we tend to choose tall, handsome (signaling genetic superiority), men. We are looking for leaders who will keep us safe and protect us. Sure we like to believe we are rational, thinking engines yet neuroscience says our decisions and choices are heavily influenced by our non-rational reptilian brain.
The last elected US President who was shorter than average was 5’6″, Benjamin Harrison in 1888.
I refuse to believe that shorter men or any woman don’t have the mental strength, intelligence, and physical capacity to touch a button and end a war. Yet those first impressions count for something. If our appearance doesn’t impress, then we must appear impressive. Those of us who are short and funny-looking need to project power and strength.
A leader whose physical appearance doesn’t impress must find a way to appear impressive — Physically Unimpressive Anonymous Biz Coach and Blogger, 2021
Great leaders are humble, thoughtful, they listen…. and they are authentic. Acting big, brash, impulsive appears at first impression to casual observers as bold and decisive. It would be inauthentic to act like that brash empty suit.
If you are humble, and thoughtful, if you listen more than you speak… if you have what it takes to be one of the world’s great leaders you are cheating yourself and the universe if you think, “I won’t show up like a con man. I won’t be that which I am not. I won’t be that guy.”
If you won’t be that guy then that phony huckster who pretends he is a Harvard man, or a VC, or a successfully exited serial entrepreneur, will grab those followers that should rightfully be yours. His con-man ways will tempt your team. His big bold bullshit will Trump (pun intended) your thoughtful deliberation. You will lose and ultimately you are cheating those that were led astray.
Hey, humble leaders!!!! Your prospective followers are looking for bold, decisive leadership. They want to see your leadership confidence. You’re letting them down by letting them be led astray by the latest shiny object in the room whose substance will betray their trust. While your refusal to go big betrays your ability to attract followers. You owe it to yourself and to followers everywhere to play the Leadership Confidence Game… to go big!
Want to explore the neuroscience of leadership? Want to understand how you stack up and how you can improve your leadership confidence? Schedule a no obligation, complimentary (that means free….don’t expect compliments) coaching session. Schedule right here and now by pressing the green button.