Why self-doubt is crucial to transformational leadership in business

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Leaders need to be confident, however, business has the potential to change the world if only the leaders would have the ability to question their doubts and plunge more in satiating their curiosities.  A leader who chooses self-restraint cannot go high, but a leader who permits a measure of self-doubt is evidently a trustworthy leader.


Transformational leadership varies in terms of its definition as different people interpret it differently.

For instance, Ernest Shackleton was a transformational leader who displayed grit and inspiration while spearheading the trans-Antarctic expedition.  Various other military leaders, such as Julius Caesar, come to mind, as they were also transformational leaders.  Likewise can be said of the late iconic leader Nelson Mandela.

Various hostile factors can lead to the halt of a business like a volatile market, falling share prices, redundancies, which are extremely challenging and stressful.  Loyalty and trust are the bedrock of businesses in such rough weather.  Loyalty and trust is still a little conditional as it tends to lessen if the performance of the business falters and does not meet the expectations of the shareholder.


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Transformational leadership stems from the leader’s inherent trust and faith in the organisation’s vision and mission.  This is a challenging place to be in for the business leaders of today as they are in charge of crating businesses that provide for the people and also support a just and equitable leadership therein.

It is possible to achieve this, but for this, our leaders must experience something that they fear.  While asking Mac Maharaj, who had held a leadership position against Apartheid in South Africa about what insight he could offer of his experience of leadership in a politically harsh climate and how it could be related to businesses across the globe-, he simply answered “self doubt”.

The answer seemed very unpredictable, as it was not the usual “self confidence” but quite the opposite- self doubt.  He further said that leaders who do not have self-doubt, curiosity, questions lead to the evident death of such a leader.

He said that leaders should confident, but it is the leader who allows self-doubt to pervade and trustworthy as well.


Self-doubt might lead to a volley of questions when it comes to a business such as challenging the growth and profit and the mission of the business.  Self-doubt would undoubtedly choose to place the welfare of the people and environment first and the revenues next as the former would be the purpose of the organisation.  Transformational leadership is precisely one that thrives on self-doubt and works towards creating a sustainable business with a generous professional attitude.

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