Back in my corporate HR management days, I partnered with the C-suite on several projects and had a front-row seat to the leadership styles of my executive colleagues.

One of them, a VP from Silicon Valley, had bravado and swagger that didn't sustain its influence on people. Another VP led through power and control, often squashing the human spirit of those around him.

One executive had a very different approach. He led by serving the needs of his tribe first before his own. It worked, and they responded with high trust and high performance.

Truly confident bosses are smart enough to know that leadership is relational and meant to support and lift up others to succeed. They share a number of inspiring qualities, including:

1. Not being afraid of being wrong

The conceited and self-righteous boss who proclaims his position and disregards differing opinions or points of view will have few followers. Typically, such a boss knows they're right, and they need you to know it too.

Confident and smart bosses, on the other hand, aren't afraid of being wrong. They are quite secure and will back down graciously when being proved wrong. To them, it's more important to find out what is right than being right. They will also often admit when they are wrong, made a mistake, or don't have all the answers. 

2. Listening more than speaking

Want to hear an insecure boss at work? Easy. Just listen to their bragging. It is a mask for their insecurity. Confident and smart bosses, however, are unassuming and know what they think; they want to know what you think. They realize they know a lot, and seek to know even more, and they know the way to do that is to listen more to those around them. This habit works brilliantly in meetings to tap into the strengths of others. 

3. Shining the spotlight on others

Smart and confident bosses don't need the glory; they understand what they've achieved. They don't seek validation, because true validation comes from within. They stand back and celebrate their accomplishments by letting others shine, which helps boost the confidence of others. 

4. Asking for help

Confident bosses are secure enough to admit a weakness and when they need help. By tapping into the powerhouse of humility as a key leadership strength and asking for help, they give permission for others to do the same, creating a culture of kindness, encouragement, and support that pays it forward.

5. Recognizing others

A confident boss never flies solo and always acknowledges his successes as a team effort. He expresses deep gratitude for everyone involved in pulling together a project, no matter how big or small the role.

He understands human nature and will make it a priority to recognize people for their hard work, both in public and private. An employee who sees this confident boss building up others instead of seeking self-glory will become more loyal and committed to going above and beyond for that boss. In turn, this paves the way for real competitive advantage.