No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tough Talk for Insecure Leaders: Pushing Through Self-Doubt

Most leaders doubt themselves. Face it, you're not Colin Powell, or Steve Jobs, or whoever the greatest leader in your industry is. In fact, exactly half of us are below average.

You can still lead well, though. It's a  myth that leaders are all exceptional. Most leaders are just average folks who have two things anyone can learn: a strong mission focus and a bias toward action.

When you focus on the mission, your attention is on what needs to be done instead of yourself and what you believe your inadequacies to be. A bias toward action puts you in motion, and once you're in motion you gain momentum. So fix your eyes on the objective, and then go there.

A few keys:

- Never, ever listen to that little voice that says you shouldn't be the one leading. Self-doubt leads to inertia, and it's pointless; you don't get to decide. Your team needs a leader, your boss pinned the rose on you, so until you're replaced you have to lead. Stop thinking about it and go do it. 

- Don't think about how someone else would do it; you're not them, and your boss probably never said, "I want you to do this like Colin Powell would." You'll get the best results employing your strength rather than using some so-called right answer. You're never as good trying to be someone else as you are being yourself.

- There aren't style points. Nobody except you cares about how you look doing it. Everyone cares if it gets done; most will never notice how. Concentrate on effectiveness.

- Do your best. You can't do more than that, just make sure you don't do less. I promise you that any commander or CEO prefers an average Joe or Jane who does their best every time over a more talented person who may or may not show up. Honest effort counts for a lot, especially with your team.

We all have those times when we don't feel adequate for the responsibilities we carry. You just have to push through the self-doubt, and the best way to do that is to focus on the job at hand and get moving.

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