Written by Natalie R. Manor
Sunday, 17 May 2009 22:34
As a business coach, I’ve often encountered female executives with confidence problems. Ellen is a typical example. An MBA with eight years of experience as a division manager and four departments reporting to her, Ellen was not convinced that she was an effective leader. No matter how much positive feedback she received, or how many excellent performance reviews were completed, she still believed that she was missing leadership excellence by a large margin.
To take a closer look at her talents, Ellen completed the classic leadership and communication assessment, which produced a snapshot of her skills. The results provided terrific evidence that Ellen was a growing and competent leader—a talented leader who routinely inspired her staff to complete complex assignments and maintain high productivity.
I met with Ellen at her office to discuss her assessment and the results. Although she had heard positive feedback about her work during her career, she was loath to accept the evidence of her leadership competence.
As her coach, I wanted to make sure that she did not deflect the obvious truth of her talents, but I did not know how to get her to understand and accept her strengths. Ellen wanted to believe that she was competent, but couldn't quite do it.
Competence vs. Confidence
I've run into problems like Ellen's many times while working with emerging leaders—highly competent women dearly lacking in self-confidence. I asked Ellen a series of questions:
- Have you ever been unprepared for an important business event?
- Did you ever receive feedback that the information you researched was incorrect or invalid?
- Have you been invited to participate on panels of experts in your subject area?
- Were you ever considered for an award?
- Have you mentored up-and-coming managers and leaders without being asked to do so?
- Are you sought out as a key contributor to teams and projects?
Ellen was truly astonished at her answers. In fact, she was considered a key contributor and leader in every area of her organization.
At that point our discussion got serious. We talked about leadership, excellence, perfectionism and self-confidence. I pointed out that if I presented her with a list of her accomplishments and skills, without her realizing that they were her own, she would be impressed by them. So what was her problem? Why did she doubt her own abilities?
Give Yourself the Gift of Confidence
At some point you have to start believing in your strengths and skills. You have worked hard to prepare for meetings, complete important projects that come in on time and budget, develop staff, and offer creative insights to further the success of your business. You must acknowledge yourself and give yourself the gift of confidence.
Confidence is not arrogance. It is not ego-centered. It is healthy. It is a sweet elixir that you deserve based on perseverance and commitment.
Observe a confident woman. Listen to her. See how she moves and listens to you and others. Be attentive to her style of speaking and thoughtfulness. You might be surprised how easily you trust her and respect her.
Today, Ellen routinely takes time to acknowledge herself. She is much more relaxed about her work and her skills. And she is delighted that her new self-confidence gives her a platform from which to contribute creatively to her organization.
About the Author
Natalie R. Manor, CEO of NMA (Natalie Manor & Associates) is a certified executive coach, trainer and speaker, and the coauthor of five books, including Give Stress a Rest, Magnetic Leadership, and Roadmap to Success with Ken Blanchard and Stephen Covey. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and the International Coaching Federation. For additional information, visit the NMA website.
Last Updated on Thursday, 01 July 2010 00:24