Words of Manic Monday by The Bangles and modified by Susan Shaner. Musician: Dan Brodax. Where can you find the magic at work today?
One of my clients was recently promoted into a job much larger than the one she had – in terms of breadth, depth and number of direct reports. Everything about the job feels huge to her. She said initially she was terrified everyday – but of course couldn’t tell anyone. All eyes are on her and she needs to project confidence and capability – even when she is secretly unsure.
Anytime you take on a new job there are new people to get to know, and new tasks and ways of thinking to master. The bigger the job the more you are stretching – and the greater the potential for your mind to run amok. We are wired for survival and our mind will do anything to keep us safe.
This client, as is the case with most of my clients, is smart, ambitious and has been successful at whatever she’s done. So, when put in a situation that is such a stretch – it can be very threatening to the ego. Initially she was not just questioning, but convinced they made a mistake. This is a very common reaction.
I will never forget when I was working at General Electric (GE), one of the leaders in sharing his lessons learned said: “If your job isn’t terrifying you, you aren’t stretching enough. Seek the jobs that terrify you. This is how you will grow.”
This is great advice. But where is the safety and support to express and work through this terror? Organizations want people’s passion and strong emotions – only when they are positive! Yet, if you are really growing and ambitious with a standard of excellence – you are going to have moments of panic, frustration, impatience. This is not necessarily bad, and to be expected. It’s more a question of what you do with these emotions – how you channel them and manage yourself so you can make decisions from a neutral space, knowing your triggers. A trigger is anything that causes you to react versus respond.
The bigger the job, the bigger the stakes – and the greater the potential to get triggered into a negative reaction – especially if you have a very public job with it’s pressures and deadlines. We only truly know our boundaries of capability when we are stretched or pushed to go up against, or beyond them (failure).
Here is what I have discovered in over 25 years coaching leaders – at some point, no matter how capable one is, they all experience these emotions. It’s part of the journey in realizing your potential and taking your sense of serving your constituents to the next level of contribution.
It is also at this time where folks start to question who they are, what they are doing “here” now, and can they accomplish what they need to? This space is especially hard to navigate for someone who identifies themselves as smart, ambitious and successful, as there is more pressure – internal and external – to “get it right.” In this kind of situation, having an external trusted advisor, such as a coach, can be very helpful in terms of having a safe place to strategize, debrief and/or vent to move through bumpy spots on the growth journey.
In the case of my client, she wasn’t seeking the job but was asked by her management to apply. Clearly they saw things in her that she didn’t see in herself. The gift is, she is now starting to understand and work with what it is that they saw.
This week’s reflection question: Where are you less than confident? What supports do you have to help you get clear and think things through?
At Sage Leadership Strategies, we work with successful leaders helping them grow into their next level of contribution. The outcome is more clarity, ease and confidence. If you are an ambitious, open learner, seeking or responding to, your next level of challenge, please contact us for a complimentary strategy session.
© Copyright 2016 Sage Leadership Strategies, LLC All rights Reserved.