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Building Your Leadership Core

Good leadership requires confidence, optimism, resilience and engagement.

Good leadership requires Confidence, Optimism, Resilience and Engagement.

All four elements work together, says Prof. Anthony Middlebrooks, who directs UD’s Siegfried Leadership Initiative in Horn Entrepreneurship. “When you are confident, you see the world and your success in more positive terms. When you are optimistic, you see more possibilities. And the more you engage and succeed, especially after a few failed attempts, the greater your sense of resilient confidence.”

Here, Middlebrooks shares his (condensed) quiz for finding and assessing your CORE. To complete, rate yourself on the following statements on a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (a lot).


1.   When facing a new task, I know that I will succeed
2.   For nearly every task, I put in my best effort
3.   I do not let fear influence my efforts 


4.   I will attain the goals I have set for myself
5.   When dealing with a difficult situation, I take a positive outlook
6.   My success is due to my effort and skill


7.   When I encounter setbacks, I generally find ways around them 
8.   When I fail to do something well, I want to try again and do it better 


9.   I integrate new experiences and ideas into what I already know
10.  I reflect and learn from what I experience

Where do you score the highest and lowest? Read on to learn more about your CORE strengths and weaknesses and how to maximize your leadership in those areas.


Confidence is your ability to learn, adapt and succeed. When you are confident, you are not fearful that other perspectives will undermine your leadership; you do not need to take credit for new ideas nor be the center of attention and information. Confident leaders maximize the value their team can offer, which in turn results in everyone’s collective success.

Optimism is the ability and tendency to see the best in yourself, in others and in every situation. People want to work with leaders who make them feel good and bring out their best. Optimism is also a reinforcing cycle between what you see and what you believe. The more you highlight the positive and the possible, the stronger you’ll be in searching out the best in any situation.

Resilience is your ability to withstand and recover from difficulties. A resilient leader not only springs back, but also leaps forward, using setbacks to advance an organization. The cliché of seeing every challenge as an opportunity reflects the interplay of optimism and resilience. Although no one wants to fail, these moments of failure hold great value in teaching us what went wrong and how we can do better.  

Engagement is key to connecting with others and one of the most powerful tools in your leadership toolbox. For leaders, engagement promises the binding of your attention, involvement and enthusiasm. Positive engagement means that you initiate and participate in ways that add value, while critically and carefully integrating new information into your understanding. 

CORE assessment adapted from Middlebrooks, A., Allen, S., McNutt, M., & Morrison, J. (2019). Discovering Leadership: Designing Your Success. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishers.

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