No matter your tenure we all have high and low confidence
Confidence, you just have to look in a person eyes to notice when they are truly confident. There is a slight sparkle that informs you that they have got this. It’s not uncommon for a client to walk into my office carrying the weight of the world on his/her shoulders only to walk tall as they leave our coaching session. You can’t have a leadership coach sitting alongside you for 24hrs of the day, nor can anyone really no what is going on inside another person. My work which is sitting alongside successful CEOs, senior executives and emerging leaders is fascinating. I have the privilege to really hold space with some incredible leaders here in New Zealand and other parts of the world. They have grown to be very competent leaders and are making good dents in the world.
During our early stages of partnering together many share stories with me of lack of confidence. Self doubt and worried that they will ‘get found out’ soon. Over the weekend I was reflecting on those leaders who had engaged with me and it drew me to a constant pattern or theme. They like us all face confidence issues more often than you would expect!
I had the pleasure of coaching a brilliant COO (Chief Operating Officer) a few years ago.
At the time she didn’t realise just how good she was, in our first session she leant in and said Nick are you here to find me out? We laughed and got to work. During our first 3 months together she completed my leadership assessments and started to build out her core purpose statement. Over my interviews with her boss, peers and staff reports all could only say good things about her. So why was she saying to me that she was not confident, what was driving these thoughts and more importantly would she ever lean into her ‘super-power’ of genuine leadership. This was a question I started every single coaching session with over our 12 month engagement. Sally (not her really name) on a scale of 1-10 1 being extremely low and 10 being on cloud 9, how confident are you today? As I reflected through my journal book (I keep one for every single client I coach, thanks Moleskin for making such beautiful journal books) what I noticed was patterns, those patterns showed us both that as a Board meeting approach her confidence dipped to an all time low, normally 1’s and 2’s would come her response. During times of being with her people and doing the work of a COO her scores would be up in the 7s, 8s. During one session we must have been around the 6 month mark I showed her my journal book.
Sally what do you notice I asked. Hum, silence, pause, stillness. Look closely at your confidence scores over the last 5 months what are you seeing? Pause, quietness! What Sally hadn’t remembered until I laid out the evidence was she was doing a tremendous job in her role of COO, she was confident, felt strong, capable and very much the leader others saw in her, on the other side of the coin was her low self scores around Board time! Or as she coined the phrase the devils den!
Just the name alone can explain to you as you read today’s blog just what was going on for Sally. ‘The Devils Den’ I asked if I could come along and observe her to which she quickly replied oh no the Chair won’t have that. I asked her again, Sally I think it would be of benefit to you if I came along and observed a Board meeting. She picked up her phone called her Chair and put me on speaker phone.
The Chair had been a huge supporter of her engaging with me and wanted only the best for her, we spoke for a few minutes and he asked why would I like to be in the Board room, my response was, David we are working on a really important part here, we can’t put our finger on it but the evidence is showing that something is triggering Sally and by observing her in your board room could be of huge benefit to her. Without hesitation David confirmed dates and times for the following Board meeting.
So the plan was simple, my turn up, sit in the corner, shut up and observe. Ok I can do that after all I had been in a number of board rooms observing my CEO and executive clients before and took so much back into our 1:1 coaching sessions it was of real value to my clients leadership development.
Post Sallies board meeting we regrouped in my office and she was eager to get my insights. Well as many of you know the whole point of working with me is for you to uncover things! So we spoke for about 3 hours, me asking her a load of specific questions and her reflecting and answering, as we were about to wrap up that observation meeting she flicked to me and said Nick I’ve got it. Got what Sally, I can now understand why I have been scoring myself so low on confidence when Board time comes around…….tell me more please………..one of the board members is a dear family friend (to my parents she said), yes and………..you see I am putting on a front to try and impress them, I get myself so worked up that all I am thinking about is not letting down my parents, letting down your parents share more…………
And so the conversation went on, the elephant in the room had been uncovered, she had found out herself why she was not confident in the board room – it had nothing to do with her role, her capabilities nor he skill set, she was more focused on trying to impress a certain board member rather than being herself! Since then she has taken off that mask and as we reflect on her confidence scores they are typically up and around the 7 & 8 marks. Great outcome for her.
So it goes to show confidence and lack of comes in many different shapes and sizes, and, if you are willing to put in the work to unearth the core reason you can find out what the elephant is in the room and then get to work on that area.
Leaders all face days where they feel a lack of confidence, it’s normal, it’s not un-common and you can build behaviours around you to grow in confidence – you just need to understand what is driving those thoughts!
Don’t allow confidence to hold you back in your leadership – you deserve more.
Nick Roud is the founder of Nick Roud Coaching, his work has won numerous global leadership development awards, he is a coach to successful CEOs, executives and emerging leaders. A dyslexia introvert that quietly goes about helping leaders lead. You can find our more about Nick 1:1 leadership coaching work by visiting nickroud.com