Heather decided it was time to stop mucking around. She had been passed over for professional development and promotion and felt that people did not appreciate her work. She looked into why that was happening; that led to her clarifying her key strength for herself. She had a great ability to connect with people, listen to their concerns and build understanding. It came so easy to her that she underrated her value. Like most of us, if it is second nature to us, we are inclined to think, what’s the big deal. But as good salespeople will tell you, ‘the first sale is to yourself.’ If she was not sold on her value then she could not expect others to be.
Having clarified her superpowers, she took them to a new level. She got interested in solving her clients’ strategic objectives. Instead of waiting for the day when she felt confident enough to personally solve all their problems, she acted as a conduit between the clients and her team. The clients trusted Heather because she listened and understood what they were trying to achieve. She broke down their strategic objectives into actionable plans with her team and delivered results that surprised the clients. The kind of value that she offers is in short supply. She is no longer being passed over for development and has recently been promoted. Just as importantly, she has a new sense of fulfilment because she intrinsically believes in the importance of what she is doing for the business.
Heather is more confident, but it is not the kind of swagger that is often associated with confidence. It is the quiet confidence of knowing that her value – listening and connecting – is a critical component of developing solutions for her clients. She is more peaceful about not having to know all the answers before putting herself forward. She works out solutions with her team. She is kinder on herself and takes the view that leadership is about being kind to others.
Her outlook is supported by a recent Korn Ferry research project geared at developing initiatives to create a sustainable pipeline of female CEOs. The results are instructive for both men and women. Compared with the predominantly male CEO benchmark in the study, the women scored lower on confidence, measured as a function of “belief in whether they were in complete control of events and outcomes that define destiny.”
However, they found in their interviews that women harness the power of experts and teams that reflects an understanding that no one person defines an outcome for an entire organisation. As one woman in the study said, “So, you go into a job, but then you have a lot more to learn. When you have that kind of humility people want to help you, and it’s a strength to ask for help, not a weakness.”
Are you sold on the value of your superpowers?
Best regards, Brian
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