I started working with Trent (name and company name changed for privacy) after he accepted a new VP role. The company change required a move to a new state. He wanted to balance his new company role while keeping close relationship to his family. Family was very important to Trent so he got that side of life settled quickly. Our coaching then started to focus on integrating with the new lead team he would be working with.
The team has strong personalities and Trent wanted to make sure he fit well with the team. He talked about asserting with confidence and staking out his ground, making plans that would be sure people knew who he was. Trent is confident in his ability to work and direct a team.
He made a plan with some check points along the way and would look for opportunities that would showcase his talent and value to the company. He wanted the lead team to know him and trust him. He wanted the CEO to see him as a solid hire and someone the company could trust.
“That’s who I need to be so I can be successful. That’s what I need to do to prove my worth to the CEO.” As I tend to do, I challenged his thinking with questions like – How is that being true to who you are? Where is there a disconnect with you? With the company culture?
He was establishing his position and decision making when possible. The trouble was, he seemed to be pushing people away rather than drawing them in. Something was missing.
As we talked one day, Trent was feeling dejected and that he was on the outside of lead team ‘hallway’ conversations. Coaching is about walking with a client rather than leading a client. There are moments though when a good coach has an intuition about a client. Finding the moment to lean into my instinct about Trent came at this moment. I asked, “How is this person of assertion your true self? What other area of life are you living this way?”
What I know and love about Trent is his confident humility. He talked about serving his wife and family. At his former position he talked of helping his team. Trent has a strong belief in himself. The problem was he was putting his belief in his pride, rather than his humility. When leaders show their confidence in a way that is not genuine, it will show.
Trent had an insight moment. He realized his mindset was counter to who he is. He was trying to be someone he is not. When his mindset shifted, he knew what he needed to do and how to do it. He made the changes and started to live true to himself… and he flourished.
People started to see the real Trent. Not surprisingly, they loved working with him and started to see what a great asset he was to the team. Pride and asserting ‘my’ expertise rarely works in the long run.
Most people think ‘I must assert myself in a new role’. But the truth is humility will get you farther, quicker.
If you feel stuck imitating someone that is not the real you, there is time to make a change. A couple things to keep in mind:
Have confidence in who you are. But make sure it is really you. Confidence works best when you live true to yourself.
Confidence means knowing who you are and what you are about. Do you know who you are?
Know your purpose? Not just your purpose for the company, but the purpose for your life too. A life of purpose is a more fulfilling life.
Do something about the change you want to make. Take one step. It doesn’t have to be huge or 180 degrees from where you are now. Just one small step, one micro-shift will get you moving towards becoming – you.
This quote by Andres Zuzunaga is powerful –