MPW Insider is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “Career-wise, is it more important to be smart or confident?” is written by Maxine Mann, president of Teknion U.S.
You need both. You need to be smart—or smart enough—and confident. You need to be smart enough to know what you don’t know, but even more important, you have to be confident or no one’s going to listen to the smart things you have to say. A confident leader not only presents ideas in a dynamic way, but also reflects a level of conviction that bolsters credibility. It’s an inherent confidence; the kind necessary when making tough decisions.
In all positions, but especially in leadership positions, I believe it’s important to remain true to yourself and not have someone dictate your moral compass. Anyone growing in their career will face difficult and challenging decisions when trying to advance their teams and organization. Sometimes these decisions will test your ethics, and leaders need the confidence to make the right decisions. There will be times when your decisions will be questioned, so confidence is absolutely critical in responding to these criticisms. And a truly confident leader will be secure enough to surround themselves with team members who are more intelligent, talented, and skilled in the areas they are not.
At the end of the day the best leaders have the ability to drive solutions and pursue challenging yet rewarding opportunities. This kind of confidence is a huge strength in leading a team because it shows you’re not afraid to take risks. Intelligence is important, but confidence is critical to surviving through all the twists and turns of a fruitful career.
Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: Career-wise, is it more important to be smart or confident?
Why it’s (often) better to be confident than smart by Sally Blount, Dean of Kellogg School of Management.
Why ‘fake it till you make it’ actually works by China Gorman, CEO of Great Place to Work Institute.
Why confidence trumps smarts by Liz Wiseman, President of Wiseman Group.
Humility is the best kind of confidence by Christina Smedley, Vice President of Global Brand and Communications at PayPal.
Confidence is the “golden ticket” by Sallie Krawcheck, Chair of Ellevate Network.