The Appearance of Confidence

As the senior leaders of the Enterprise, Picard and Riker appear at all times to be self-assured and confident in their actions and decisions (with Riker coming off as arrogant more than a few times). And I think most would agree that confidence and decisiveness are important leadership traits. But as managers, I think many of us question ourselves, experience uncertainty, and occasionally agonize over whether we are choosing the best course of action. And then we wonder if we are true leaders and are truly cut out for a management role.

As Picard teaches us, all leaders question themselves, but they realize that it is the appearance of confidence that matters as much as anything else.

In “Attached” (season 7, episode 8) as Beverly and Picard are on their journey to meet the Kes operative and escape the Prytt, Picard examines the map and then confidently points in the direction they should go. Beverly, given new insight to Picard due to their implants, says, “You’re acting like you know exactly which way to go, but you’re just guessing. Do you do this all the time?” Picard replies that he doesn’t but that “there are times when it’s important for a Captain to give the appearance of confidence.”

He echoes this wisdom when giving advice to Data in “The Ensigns of Command” (season 3, episode 2). Data is preparing to perform in a concert as part of a string quartet. Picard and Beverly enter Ten Forward, and Data advises them to wait and attend the second concert (when he will be replaced by a different violinist) because he has been told that while his playing is technically proficient, it lacks soul. Picard tells him that “excessive honesty can be disastrous, particularly in a commander…Knowing your limitations is one thing. Advertising them to a crew can damage your ability to lead.” Data asks if this is because you lose their respect, and Beverly says, “No, because you may begin to believe in those limitations yourself.”

Trust in the skills and expertise that landed you in a management position in the first place, and trust in your own instincts. In the next post, we’ll see how Beverly draws on this wisdom when she is thrust into a command position.

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