Karin’s Leadership Articles

Great leaders help teams visualize a winning future. They arm their team with the courage and audacity to remove roadblocks and galvanize people toward “impossible” feats.

Take John. John had been in tough situations before, but this time the cocktail of challenges was just too much. He needed more time, more resources, better systems, and the uncertainty of the restructure was distracting to everyone, including him. He confided, “I don’t think we can do this.”

I was sure he was right. Not because of the systems or the resources, or even the organizational chaos. But, if the leader lacks confidence, the team knows. It’s nearly impossible for a team to win when their leader loses faith.

5 Reasons Teams Lose Confidence

1.  A Doubting Leader

When the leader loses faith in their teams ability to perform–with these players, in these conditions, on this field–the team will sense it. Even if the words are encouraging, the underlying emotions speak louder. If you’re not sure you can win, find a way to get your own head there, or let someone else call the shots for a while. If you don’t believe it can be done, neither will they.

2. Under-Preparation

The team is tired, so the leader backs off on the training and preparation. They cut the team some slack when it comes to additional research or practice. The team feels initial relief, and thinks the coach is “nice,” but on game-day doubts they’re truly ready.

3. Discounted Wins

The team has wins, but every time the leader discounts it or fails to understand it. Success without understanding is hard to replicate.

4. Over-Direction

The leader is at the center of every move: calling the shots, holding a huddle, directing the moves. Teams feel lucky to have the leader, but question their own contribution to the matter.

5. Reliance on a Star Player

Players get hurt, move on, become hard to deal with. It’s dangerous when a team begins to attribute success to just one guy (or gal). The most confident teams believe in the team and its synergies. If the team starts to bet against themselves when one player is injured (or obnoxious), you’ve begun a downward spiral.

Great leaders build confident teams, who believe in the vision, the process and one another.

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Bruce Harpham

    Karin, I like the point you make here: “The team has wins, but every time the leader discounts it”

    This also happens one to one between teams. Wins, let alone big wins, don’t come along every day. We need to get better at recognizing them.

    • Karin Hurt

      Bruce, Excellent point. I totally agree.

  2. Steve Borek

    As the leader, I treat everyone equally. I don’t play favorites.

    Each person has a gift to contribute to the success of the team. It’s our job as leaders to bring those unique talents to the surface.

    This instills confidence in everyone.

    • Karin Hurt

      Steve, so very important. Great point. Nothing feels worse than wondering why you’re not the go-to guy.

  3. Alli Polin


    I worked in an organization where the top leader always gave us full support… and then sent in her #2 to oversee and try to influence (um… micromanage) all of or effort to save a sinking ship. It took us far too long to realize that “I believe in you” were empty words and what she was really saying was “I’m testing you before I believe in you.” Needless to say, not one person on my leadership team is still there, including the people who came after us.

    I think, in retrospect, a really open and honest conversation with the leader about concerns and challenges and what we really needed in terms of support would have gone a very long way – as opposed to the power-struggles and power-plays that resulted.

    • Karin Hurt

      Alli, Wow, that’s a crazy way to manage. At least all those leaders under her learned a big lesson in how not to lead 😉


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