“If a tree has deep roots, not even the strongest winds can break it”

Leaders in COVID-19 are digging deep to stay connected with their self-belief. The habitual dance between self-doubt and certainty is heightened during a crisis. It is dangerous to be overly confident as we navigate the unknown but too much self-doubt can be a paralyzing agent. Self-belief integrates both concepts in a helpful, healthy partnership.

Self-belief is an unassuming, calm, accurate understanding of one’s wherewithal to meet challenges. It is the healthy middle ground between arrogance and self-doubt.  I often use the metaphor of a tree that is able to withstand storms without being broken. The tree will sway and bend, but its deep roots keep it stable. Our self-belief can play the same role as it is our unique wellspring of personal truth and it nourishes resilience.

Some of us have a resilience advantage that comes from our early life experiences. Researchers have found that attachment patterns formed with our early caregivers lead to a number of outcomes for adults. For example, children who are securely bonded as infants tend to develop strong self-belief and self-reliance. Early feelings of trust in the world support them to become steady, confident leaders who positively influence others by creating and holding safe spaces, relationships and workplace cultures.

 But many of my clients are captive to their own insecurities. Too much energy is spent, wondering how they are being perceived by others and telling themselves that they could have done a better job. Unfortunately, in spite of strong, disconfirming evidence, such as a track record of success, many become disconnected from their mastery. Rather than trusting and being themselves, they fall into defensive patterns such as posturing, controlling, not taking up their authority or trying to prove themselves.

 When we have unreasonable expectations, our relationships suffer. This applies equally to our relationship with our self. It is not realistic to expect ourselves to be perfect and it is important that we remind ourselves that we are good enough and worthy.

 Self-belief is the source of your leadership resilience. What does it look like in action?

 If you are secure in yourself, you are able to open up to people, be vulnerable and authentic and to develop and maintain healthy relationships with others. You put your energy into important priorities, not managing your anxiety.You soothe yourself and can do the same for others and help them make sense of confusion. You create a safe container where you hold and interpret with others what is happening in these uncertain times. You connect with your strengths and stay calmly aware of your flaws which you continually work on. You respect yourself and equally respect others. Your self-belief means you are an assertive leader who sets and maintains boundaries. You speak up, hold your ground and won’t be manipulated by people with self-serving agendas.

 Self-confidence can be fleeting depending on a range of factors, but self-belief is the deep, stable source of your leadership resilience. What helps build true self belief?

 An effective strategy is to start with a simple, daily strengths practice. It will help you back yourself and re wire your brain to lean into – I am worthy.:

  1. Reflect on your leadership and life story
  2. Every day write down 5 strengths that you possess. Do not ask others for input
  3. Frame each strength as an affirmation, starting each sentence with “I am…” e.g. I am creative, I am strategic, I am a deliverer
  4. Each day add 5 more and read the growing list to yourself at the beginning and end of each day
  5. Continue this daily practice for one month and notice the increase in your calm confidence
  6. Read one strength affirmation every morning, every day, forever
  7. Suspend your cynicism. Give it a go! You would be amazed at the number of powerhouse leaders who continually build their resilience stocks using this and similar methods

 Self-belief is a deeply grounding force. It requires investment, attention and discipline. Staying connected with these roots of self-confidence enables you to stay stable, grow tall and flourish.

If you truly believe you can, you truly can.


 In my book- The Worthy Leader – I couple two universal and timeless notions – wisdom and leadership to speed up leadership development and improve business outcomes. The Map below provides a comprehensive picture of all the developmental elements you need to switch on to accelerate your growth. The map has five key elements, each of which has three coordinates. In this article, I explore – self-belief- as being a self-believer unlocks our leadership capacity and provides the resilience to meet the challenges of COVID-19.

The interdependent map elements are listed below:

  • Knowing – The cognitive element: Our self-awareness, and perspective that will help us lead innovatively through this crisis.
  •  Connecting – The emotional element: The relationships we invest in that return loyalty and teamwork during challenging times
  • Being – The spiritual element: Our calm self-belief, sense of purpose and character will steady us and reassure our teams.
  •  Discerning – The element of insight: How we think systemically, hold ourselves to account and make the best, often tough decisions, sometimes in haste and with insufficient data, as the crisis unfolds.
  • Delivering – The element of action: The actions we take in an unknown space, resulting in better outcomes.
  • Impact – This concerns consequences: The lasting positive impact our decisions and actions can have on our teams, peers, the business and ourselves.



 Maryanne Mooney has never been so inspired to help leaders connect with their potential and encouraging them to act on it. Her goal is to help leaders navigate their challenges and to support their growth. She does this through the power of meaningful and practical conversations. In the past 25 years, Maryanne has worked on five continents with more than 10,000 leaders and teams. Her focus is leadership, team and organization development, across all industry sectors. Her experience includes building two consulting firms that were market leaders. Maryanne lives in Australia and works with leading organizations throughout the world. She is an executive coach, president of the Board for the USA Senhoa Foundation and a YPO Spouse and Certified Forum Facilitator. Maryanne's method to coach leaders develop faster on their journey to wisdom is outlined in her recently published book – The Worthy Leader – From Mastery to Potential. The book is available on her website –

Maryanne will be writing a weekly column in this newsletter, drawing on her book and years of leadership development experience, to provide practical tips about how to be a worthy leader, in troubled times.

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