As I listen to my client, I am struck by his intelligence. It is honest, self generated, Ivy League school supported, experience worthy intelligence. It is a type of intelligence I will never hold; much of it relates to his industry and service offerings that are highly niched, degree driven and detailed orientated.
Disclaimer: I have my own intelligence; also degree, experience and organized driven.
Today’s meeting was no different in the direction it was going. As we go deeper and deeper, I feel my sense of leadership become challenged when I begin to listen to his detailed description working with his clients. It creeps up on me quickly and silently, attempting to create a cathartiscism so deep that I can barely speak, nonetheless show up like a confident leader.
Two days later I met with another client in a business coaching meeting, one where our work took us back to her and her leadership work. She began to quickly describe the panic she feels when having to lead her staff on things she is not perfect at or at times, knows nothing at all. She is so aware of her avoidance, she can recall the feeling that rises in her the moment she is not feeling confident.
These two occurrences were interesting. Someone was trying to get my attention. In my world, business trends always mean something. Then it hit me. You cannot lead without confidence. Confidence is what separates the “wanna be” leaders, from the real leaders. As in both instances, the leaders started lacking confidence. In these two cases, confidence was waning from being challenged on knowledge and experience. How do we find and retain our confidence, all the time?
Being a confident leader, doesn’t mean being the best. It doesn’t mean getting the most stars, highest points, fastest times, best results or prettiest design. To confidently lead, means you remember your role is the leader and not the doer. That guiding someone to their greatest abilities is something different than a glorified technician repeating instructions.
Realizing that confident leadership is not about having all the answers or being the most perfect, it got me thinking, What is it?
Know What To Ask: When working with an intelligent client, as I discussed above, I know that if I am aware of what I need to ask, I can confidently stay engaged in helping find the solution. Because system solutions are not always apparent, engaging in productive listening, thoughtful responses and engaged attention will ensure that you ask what you need to lead you to finding solutions.
Honesty Counts: Let’s be real. It is never ok to lie. Nothing good comes from it and the most important thing you have, trust, gets chipped away like a melting ice structure. This slippery slope is something I find few relationships can recover from. Stay true, honest and real. Ask what you don’t know, own your mistakes and recognize your faults.
Change is Required: Expect that things are going to change. Heck, let’s just say that you have to build that into the equation. So, reacting negatively, anxiously or overwhelmed when people in the organization or on your team want to discuss change, does not work. If you have a willingness to work with change, you will exude confidence.
Dress to Impress: Feeling good, means looking good. Our new business landscape welcomes many different styles, personal branding statement and culture. So, pick one, stick with it, and show up everyday like that and feel your best. If you don’t want to turn on your video conference for a meeting, you know that you are not feeling your best. This type of feeling will be experienced by people around you. Maybe it is time for a makeover or a shopping adventure.
It is easy to loose your confidence, it can happen with a client, employee or even a peer. Letting it be a short lived distraction, ensures that you remember your leadership role and continue to deliver the deepest experiences possible.
Lead Your Employees. Lead Your Clients. Lead Yourself.