Recently, I coached a client who was struggling with self-confidence in presenting his ideas to upper management. He was fearful of not meeting upper management’s expectations and being rejected. There were several times over the past year that he had been unsuccessful in communicating effectively and he had begun to doubt his abilities.
I kept hearing negative words from my client about himself and upper management. My client was at the point of giving up and blaming upper management for not accepting his ideas. He was definitely in an unproductive state of mind. He was facing a brick wall due to his lack of confidence.
During our coaching session, a key question I asked was, “What would it take to break through this brick wall toward greatness?”
This question caused my client to pause for a minute and then finally say, “For upper management to accept my ideas.” This led to my next questions. “What does upper management need to hear from you? What approach would be most effective in delivering your ideas?”
These questions helped my client begin to expand his thinking and gain clarity on his natural approach versus the approach he needed to be effective. As he considered other ways to deliver his ideas, he became surer of himself. He began to plan to research additional information to support his ideas and identify a person who could give him feedback on his presentation. He also thought about how he needed to portray himself in front of upper management. My client realized he needed to be more assertive and take the lead—which was not his natural tendency—while still being authentic. I could hear his self-confidence increasing as he begun to expand his thinking. He was moving toward greatness!
Through the coaching process, my client shifted his thinking, expanded his perspective, and stepped outside of his comfort level. He was able to overcome his personal brick wall by identifying a plan of small, manageable steps in preparing for the presentation. He accepted that he could be successful and was determined to do so.
Any Brick Walls Holding You Back?
Do you have barriers or self-made brick walls? Is it improving your self-confidence? Developing a plan of action? Shifting your motivational outlook? If you do, here are three strategies that can help you break through.
- Increase your self-awareness. It is important to know your natural tendencies in order to intentionally alter them. This puts you in control of your behaviors. For example, if you have a tendency to let others take the lead in a group discussion, prepare yourself by having the information you need ahead of time to be more vocal during the next group discussion. Or consider setting a goal for yourself to state your opinion in the first five minutes of the discussion.
- Eliminate negative self-talk. Recognize no one is perfect, even you. Change your negative words into positive words. For example, instead of staying, “I am too shy to influence others,” say, “I can influence others through my tendency to be thorough and focus on the facts.” Positive words will move you forward. Continue to build on your strengths and find ways to develop other areas.
- Take small manageable steps. You can accomplish anything by breaking the task or goal into small actionable steps. For example, if you need to be confident in a presentation to upper management, the first step may be to speak to others who have done something similar for advice on the most effective approach. The next step may be to create an outline based on the advice. As you complete each step, your self-confidence increases as you continue to move forward.
Create a Different Structure
I believe we all have experiences building our own personal brick walls. And, we all have what it takes to knock them down. The key is taking the time to self-reflect on your current behaviors and identify one small actionable step toward greatness. It begins with one small step. Take that step today!
About the Author
Terry Watkins is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.