The Confidence Building Power of Self-Awareness. During the 2008 recession, I heard Carla Harris speak on career. She said that while it’s human nature to want to hide in times of uncertainty, it’s actually better to put your head up and have a point of view. I’d agree. And, I’d say the best point of view you can have is about yourself. To feel more confident as a leader of a team or in your career, and to manage up, know what you (or your team) have to offer and know how to share it:
Self-Awareness – Know Your Leadership Superpower and How It Contributes
Self-Awareness is so powerful for building confidence. We’ve all heard that you have to know your strengths. What too many people miss is understanding your impact — how does that strength contribute to the whole?
To know that, you also need to understand how teams work. (See the Belbin Team Roles for more on that). Companies need sales people who love to be with clients, analysts who love to do research, project managers who love to move things forward, accountants, and creatives who love to cross T’s and dot I’s.
Then think about how roles interact. Maybe an analyst loves to immerse herself in the technical aspect of the company’s products. She goes on a sales call with a salesperson, who loves to focus on the client’s demeanor and knows how to pivot in the moment. Having the analyst in the meeting, with her deep technical knowledge, makes the salesperson feel more confident. Maybe it’s easier to close the sale. Then the analyst has an impact on the salesperson, who has an impact on the bottom line. That’s how it works. Knowing your impact makes confidence soar.
Exercise: Impact Bullseye. Draw three concentric circles. In the smallest one, write one of your strengths. In the middle one, write how that strength helps your team and close colleagues. Then in the biggest one, write how you impact the bottom line, either directly or via the help you provide to those colleagues.
Confidence Building Power – Strong Leaders Don’t Beat Themselves Up for Their Weaknesses
Famed Harvard Business School professor Peter Drucker said, “It takes far more energy and work to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence.”
Years ago I was complaining to someone about how much I hated to balance my checkbook and she said, “So don’t do it. The bank doesn’t make too many mistakes. Just don’t worry about it.” I was giddy. Literally. For years I’d dreaded the end of the month. I hated the task, but what really weighed on me was beating myself up for not being good at accounting.
This is something I see. All. The. Time. It’s human nature that when we get feedback, we jump right over the good stuff and focus on the bad. To be clear, not being good at something doesn’t mean you’ll never have to do it. But it’s amazing how light we feel when we let go of the judgment.
Exercise: Make a list of all of the tasks you do in your job (yes, it takes a while). Then, make a grid with four quadrants: “Good at it and energizes me,” “Good at it but doesn’t energize me,” “Not good and doesn’t energize me,” and “Energy drain and just don’t get it.” It’s amazing to really look at what drains your energy. If at all possible, use the knowledge to delegate some of what you don’t like and spend more time leaning into what you’re great at.
Self-Awareness – Share Your Branding Message to Manage Up
By now you should have an idea of what you’re good at and how you contribute through the confidence-building power of self-awareness. The next step is to turn it into a message. I once spoke to a recent college graduate who wanted a job as an assistant to a marketing VP. Not unsurprisingly, she didn’t have a sense of what she could contribute. She was lacking in confidence and had not built the power of Self-Awareness.
I told her to try to put herself in a VP’s shoes and think about what she would need from an assistant. “That’s easy,” she said. During her two internships, she hadn’t needed a lot of direction. She was also good at noticing who liked who in meetings. Ah, politics. I told her to say, “As a recent graduate with two internships under my belt, I know that I won’t have to bother you with a lot of questions, but I will know when to ask before promising work to another department.”
Bingo. Messaging is good when it highlights your area of strength and experience that align with the need in the team or organization.
Once you have a message, know the key decision-makers in your organization and make sure to communicate with them regularly. Can your boss make a decision to give your team resources, or does s/he have to go up one level? So often I hear people say, “I asked for a promotion a year ago and nothing happened!” Getting a promotion or getting resources for your team is like running for office. You need a campaign with a message, and consistent communication.
These are three elements of being a strong leader and managing up that come up all the time in my work. To learn more, check out www.clearstrategycoaching.com.
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