When clients have told me this, that they come across as lacking confidence when the present or in meetings, I get it. I’ve been there. And it’s not just one client, it’s many, In all functions from front end developers to engineering directors. It’s come up in our coaching sessions as they’ve worked to level up their leadership skills.
They want to be taken seriously, and yet this is the feedback they are getting.
People are’t listening to their expertise because they aren’t sure about them.
And I get it. I also got that feedback a few years ago when I was responsible for member experience at the Professional Women’s Network. Literally I was told that I was like “de cat uit de boom kijken” which means that I’d hang back, suss out the situation, being reluctant to make a move.
The feedback was right. I wore my self-doubt like it was an invisibility cloak where just my head was poking out.
At that phase of my life nobody thought that I exuded confidence. And they were right.
My clients and I suffered from a common problem. I think these sentences describe it quite well:
- Feeling unconfident when you don’t know everything.
- Being reserved when you don’t know everything.
- Wanting to get all the details right.
- Being life-long learners so you’re aware of all you don’t know.
- Thinking that everyone else can do it better than you.
- Worrying about how to respond if someone asks you a question that you don’t know the answer to i.e. feeling like you need to know everything before you can be an expert.
- Worrying about what people think of you.
When we’ve worked on these issues, I’ve seen clients do amazing things.
Stand up at an all-hands or leadership strategy meeting and nail it. And by nail it I mean they come across and confident and knowledgeable, and that people come to them to seek their expertise afterwards.
Speak up in a project meeting and sharing the idea that allowed them to finally make progress.
Trust that when they are authentically themselves, they get positive responses from their audience. Be it strut like a badass or charm the pants off everyone (not literally – I think) they showed up as their best selves and got people to listen.
Focus on what they want to say and get their message across.
How did they manage this? by doing what I did to allow myself to start my business, design strategic leadership offsites, or stand in front of 60 law faculty and talk about saboteurs.
In a nutshell: find out how you are sabotaging yourself, and then learn how to stop doing that.
Because one thing I have seen time and again is that when you remove the (self-imposed) obstacles, most people fly.
This post is part of my special Coaching Tips Series. This series was inspired by my clients and the core themes in their challenges. When we can apply these tips, we bring a lot of ease into our lives and step into our leadership. Want to talk it through with me? Call me and let’s make a Game Plan together.