CEOs and MDs know how to make decisions. Everyone looks to them for answers and that can be a constant stressor: having to ‘appear’ smart whilst ‘feeling’ dumb. Whilst the outward persona is one of certainty; inwardly the inner confidence is taking a knock.
I’m not afraid to ask questions. And you’d expect that from an Executive Coach. I’m not talking about asking questions for the purpose of helping others here. I mean I’m comfortable sharing the fact, that whilst I know enough, I don’t know it all.
Of course, being that open is a consideration. Clearly, we don’t want to put doubt in the minds of our people. Also, showing a little vulnerability is not to suggest we’re lost. Rather we’re giving them the message that together we can be great.
I’ve noticed that when my inner confidence is at a low ebb, I canvass a lot of opinions. And I do that because in that situation, I’m not sure of my own mind. The risk is that we get a myriad of responses which aren’t necessarily helpful. They are based on each individual’s map of the world. And that will colour their perspective about what’s possible for us.
Now we’re in trouble, potentially. Particularly, if the strongest message we receive is “I wouldn’t do that!” or “That’ll never happen!” or in my worst-case experience “Who do you think you are?”
You’re in doubt so you canvass other standpoints. The groundswell of opinion is that you shouldn’t take the risk. So, you question whether your expectations are realistic.
The result is that you water down your aspirations. In addition, you lower your expectation.
The impact is that you deliver an average outcome. You don’t get what you originally wanted or that which you’d hoped for. Instead you do okay. You get an average result. Everyone is happy except you.
Remember, people will resist when we attempt to upset the apple cart!
An average outcome is not what you planned. So, what can you do about it?
PAY ATTENTION: to how you’re posing the question. Asking ‘do you think’ or ‘is it possible’ is likely to generate a cautious response.
STATE YOUR INTENTION: Ask for ideas on ‘how’ you might deliver on your objective
BE ASSUMPTIVE NOT APOLOGETIC: People are quick to pounce on uncertainty. Let them know you have a plan for success.
In conclusion, we all benefit greatly from the input of others. And people who collaborate achieve far more than those who work alone.
The key is to develop your inner confidence by taking selective advice; which reaffirms your own positive intentions.
Ultimately, this is your life. And you must take full responsibility for your actions. Of course, as CEOs our actions have implications for those we lead. Even more important then, that we choose our counsel wisely.