Confidence is the key to making successful and creative leaders, which may directly translate into good performance by their subordinates, says a study that examined productive teams at modern workplaces.
“When leaders feel confident that they can produce creative outcomes, their subordinates become more creative. It’s that simple,” said study author Dina Krasikova from University of Texas at San Antonio.
Usually, creative leaders have the proper experience to fuel their ideas. As a result, they’re more confident. Also, leaders become more confident in their creativity when it is recognised by the senior management.
But what surprised Krasikova is that a leader’s creativity and confidence are contagious. “A factor in this is the power of positive thinking,” said Krasikova — an expert in leadership — in a paper published in the journal Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes. “Leaders can imbue their subordinates with confidence and creativity just by setting an example themselves,” she added.
The study also found that ineffective or abusive leaders create stressful situations for their employees by humiliating them in front of others, playing favourites or not giving their subordinates proper credit for their work.
“When you feel stressed, you feel helpless and your productivity and creativity is diminished,” the researcher said. “Many times, this originates with the leader. For example, you might come to work unsure of what you’re supposed to be doing because you get conflicting expectations from your direct supervisor or your boss. The solution is clear roles and communication,” she added.
Interpersonal relationships between leaders and subordinates, too, play an important role in the team’s performance. “When a confident, creative leader also has a good relationship with subordinates, it has an even stronger impact on the subordinates’ creativity,” Krasikova said.