Jeff works for an international organization in its Americas division. Executive leadership sees him as a potential candidate for president of the division. As a further indication of that career path he was recently promoted to SVP and is now one of six on the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) for the Americas. However, even though is it incongruent with his careen trajectory, Jeff lacks confidence.
How is it that Jeff can feel a lack of confidence when he has been so successful and is seen as being so highly competent? What is it that gets him so internally tangled that he doesn’t speak up enough in ELT meetings?
As his coach I begin to wonder if he doesn’t see himself the way others see him. He understands that he is highly analytical and competent which matches how others view him. But he tells me at times he feels like a fraud and at other times he doesn’t speak up because he fears he will look like an idiot.
As we begin to unpack this issue, it becomes clear that the inner view he has of himself is not aligned with the external behaviors that he demonstrates to others and the perceptions they have of him. What holds him back from fully engaging is his internal view of himself. His focus internally is more connected to his feelings while his behaviors are seen as a rational expressions of who he is.
We discover that Jeff has an internal tension that keeps him from “owning” his behaviors, really seeing and believing that he is as competent as others see him and as competent as he really is. This tension is caused by a distorted self-image and over focusing on his fear of being discovered to be a fraud or looking like a fool.
Increased awareness is often the first step in coaching. By gaining this awareness, Jeff developed a number of strategies to create alignment between his internal and external worlds.
- First, he had to objectively look as his past behaviors, see the strength and competence in them and consciously “own” them; really see himself as others see him.
- He began to notice when he lacked confidence. He would move his attention away from his feelings and into more objectivity about what was right in front of him at that moment (i.e. his competent behaviors in the situation).
- He began to recognize, in the moment, that the lack of confidence was based on his unfounded fear of looking foolish, and as he did that he was able to diminish the fear.
- He made a point to focus on his strengths while interacting with people, and focus on his objective behaviors rather than his subjective feeling of fear.
- And with these strategies in place, he was able to commit to speaking up more, and sooner, in meetings even if uncomfortable.
As Jeff worked with himself around being aware of and challenging his fears and self-image, and fully owning his strengths and abilities, he began to notice he was experiencing less tension. He was able to be more fully present in the moment, which then created more effectiveness in his interactions.
Contact Steve for more tips on aligning your inner experience to your outer world.