It’s astonishing to me how this one factor is not mainstream when the topic is leadership. I have no doubts that this is the most overlooked leadership secret. I can see the absence of it every day in my work. Maybe it’s there, hidden somewhere inside the overall descriptions about the general understanding of leadership. But definitely not visible enough.


Leaders set directions, create a vision, motivate the team, guide as a model through the darkness, are emphatic and close to the people. These are well-known definitions. Basically, the main point is described in this quote:

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” John Maxwell

Is this enough? Let’s see.

Motivation takes a leading role when we talk about leadership. Values are behind motivation. And so, values are important and necessary, but not as impactful for performance, creativity, and ingenuity as this one factor.

What your people think is right or wrong, those things which make them wake up in the morning and go to work happy and motivated instead of depressed and lethargic. It’s part of the organizational culture and crucial for cohesive groups and future developments. And yet again, not the main factor when it comes to a premium product, a competitive project, or an astonishing achievement.

Then what is?

Good question. What makes a person perform his best is related to the belief systems. What someone believes is possible or achievable will determine the amount and the quality of the resources deployed.

For example, if you’re giving an impossible project with an even more impossible deadline your team has two options:

First, (when your people believe in the project, and that is achievable) they will be unbeatable. Second, if they don’t, chances are neither the project nor the deadline won’t be handled.

Such a powerful message to know. If until now you didn’t invest enough attention to this, it’s time to start. Analyze your previous actions and results based on teams where 100% belief was present, compared to a group where only 50% were on-board, even if they thought is a good project (value).


A leader who knows this applies the knowledge of the mind. Are you one of them? My hat’s off to you!

If not, it’s never too late to start. In fact, now is the best time to start. So let’s continue.

As a result, the leader who knows the power of beliefs will never send his team to work without showing the big picture first and making sure that everyone’s on board believing in the project. These are simple, even no-brainer steps. Yet too many so-called leaders, who are in fact managers, are demanding without giving.

Showing trust and autonomy to your team can be efficiently applied through gifting them with your time. In ten minutes you as a leader can illustrate the big picture. In less than one hour you can put everyone on board, those hired smartly.

Because you are already in a privileged position. People are looking up to you, they expect guidance, but also they want to believe in your plans.
With this small time investment, you’ll empower your group, showing them respect and a good leadership model.


Now what to do with those individuals who don’t see what you see and are not converted to believe? Should you treat them like the rotten apple which ruins the basket? Well, that’s one severe option and if your project has significant consequences you cannot leave anything to chance. I would 50% remove them from the group or give them a different Task outside this particular project.

But you could also take them aside and spend some extra time to see what’s wrong with their view. Why can’t they believe in the project? You could find surprising insights into those discussions. You can even do this as a focus group with all. Sometimes you’ll see that the best promoters of your plan are other leaders without a title who will back you up, or surprisingly sell your idea for you.


From a group of ten unattached and disbelieving individuals you’ll have:

– Two doing the actual job because they are built this way. They are the gifted ones.
– Six doing the necessary filler parts.
– Two will hang on the other’s accomplishments.

People who don’t believe in your project won’t do anything extra. They’ll probably follow strict orders, nothing more. They won’t deploy creativity, problem-solving, analytical thinking, other resources because they don’t see the need to. They are not on board with the project, the goal.

“Why work harder, do my best, if it’s in vain?” That’s the mindset behind such a team. Even if you motivate them with bonuses and reminding them of the company culture, the best they will do is to follow the group and be a team player.

But for ambitious goals mediocrity is not enough. You need a team who’ll do that extra mile when you’re not around. That’s achievable by belief.

What’s the main asset you gain through belief?



I’ll give you another example from the real world, something that already impacts the economics of the current markets — something that will erase lots of businesses from the map in the next five years.

There is a lot of capital in the markets right now. Investors throw money into the market investing in Start-Ups.

The game became raising money for the next venture – from the entrepreneurial side. And gaining passive income from the next “Facebook” – from investors. That’s why so many tech start-ups are raising capital time and time again, even if the business bleeds a lot of money. We are 6 million in debt, but we’ll do a new round and raise an extra 10 million.

Everything started as a love affair. The Startupper received the money, and The Investorinvested money in good faith. Yes, there was a faith in play.


But on the road any new business faces challenges. And the two players have a different view, based on their motivation (values). Once you were founded the name of the game became – scaling. So that’s the leading player, not your dream anymore.

If you’re facing challenges on the way, pretty inevitable, you’ll need to adjust your plan to meet the demands. That can make the initial vision lost. An experienced entrepreneur will be able to see what’s next and how can he/she overcome the challenge. But that’s a new idea, a new strategy which could conflict with the investor.

So the entrepreneur has two options.

Either sell his new business strategy to the investor, the board (time and time again) and they show green to whatever the visionary wants to do, or they will act rigid and keep the initial script in play. If the initial version stays, but the startupper will feel pressured the risk is that he’ll be the one who loses faith.

You can imagine what happens. The person or the associates who started everything in the first place became trapped in a game that distances them from what they envisioned. The pressure will cause a domino effect in the markets because the present abundance on the markets will vanish for a big number of such deals. Isn’t this obvious?


To resume, if you lose belief or never had it in the first place and you’re an active player in the game chances are that if anything good happens, it will be average and very vulnerable to any market movements. That’s the best scenario. Most of the times things will just end, crash, bottom.

I would conclude with a personal quote:

Leadership is a game of belief and trust. The demons come from the belief’s side. Even if you’re only leading yourself, the results will be influenced by how much you believe in yourself and your plan.

Motivation can be overcome with discipline and a good work ethic. The belief system is a different cookie. Once conquered the other things will be there to help and empower.


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  • Dr. Cristina Imre

    Executive Coach & Mentor for Startup Founders & Executives | Serial Entrepreneur


    Throughout her career, Cristina has been focused on the idea of building and leaving a lasting legacy. For that, quality, purpose-driven, empathic leadership is needed at the top. An entrepreneur at heart, problem solver, executive by action, mindset expert as the usual self. The nonconventional way in which she combined experience and experiments became her hallmark. Cristina Imre served as a leader and executive in multiple industries, including, (but not limited to), healthcare, e-learning, banking, call centers and manufacturing, AI, real estate, financial services, marketing, sales, etc. Worked with multiple startups, SMB's and multinational distributed teams. By breaking down dysfunctional patterns in business, career, and personal life, she stresses the importance of self-improvement at any level. Through her two decades of research, testing, and application of unique and classical methods on business and leadership development, Cristina gained a unique insight into the world we live in and how we function as humans. Quoting her: "Our future is unwritten, and we can only move forward or regress by not improving ourselves, not learning from our history, and not thinking long-term. There is no middle road." Feel free to message her directly through LinkedIn if you sense there is a synergy to explore. P.S. She also wrote 4 books (2 non-fiction, 2 fiction) and you can find her articles around the web and her views on her social media channels, especially YouTube.