Being an executive coach can be a humbling process at times. Particularly when a client really begins to open up and let you into their world. It becomes a connecting, warts-and-all look at the life and inner workings of a leader. These conversations of course come from a foundation of great trust, but delving into this is necessary. Most often what holds a leader back from greatness, overcoming challenges and breaking through barriers is fear. The other four letter word. Fear of failing, fear of being rejected, fear of success, fear of the judgements of others. Insight, confidence and taking action are the antidotes to fear from my experience with leaders.
I often connect with coaching clients on the topic of confidence in the workplace. Now, these aren’t all 20 something-fresh-to–leadership types, but experienced leaders in their 30s, 40s and 50s. The thing they have in common is they just don’t see the value that they bring to their team or organisation. They don’t back themselves to voice their opinion and vision. Some leaders can wonder why others would even listen to them, or have a fear that their apparent lack of skill with be 'found out' by their peers. This type of thinking leads to stalled career progression, excessive nervousness in presentations, and missed opportunities meetings and working groups.
Here are some tips on overcoming fear and learning to back yourself at work:
…Pay attention to what's around you right now, instead of focusing on the past (which you can't change), or the future (which you can't fully predict).
One easy way to do this during a meeting or presentation is to reduce ‘noise’ and pre-planning thoughts (ie thinking about what you’ll do/say next); this can be done by taking brief notes on your thoughts to remove them from your mind and reduce any anxiety that you might forget to raise a topic or a particular thought/solution. That way, you can stay focussed on the discussion at hand.
If you let fear drive you and don't back yourself at work, it’s very unlikely that someone will do it for you. Everyone makes a valuable contribution in some way at work - just dig deep to see what the value is that you bring to your team and the organisation and be sure of your strengths and achievements. Now actually believe it…