The Impact of Confidence: 7 Secrets of Success for the Human Side of Leadership

The Impact of Confidence: 7 Secrets of Success for the Human Side of Leadership

by Timothy J Ressmeyer

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Overview

Confidence is the number one growth opportunity for leaders, according to executive and leadership coach Tim Ressmeyer, Ph.D. In this highly practical book, the author integrates insights and experience from his years working in nonprofits, higher education, corporate, and as an entrepreneur running a coaching company. The book uncovers the impact of confidence in seven critical dimensions of a leader's life including leadership, passion, connecting, change, advancement, relationships, and control. The author combines a unique perspective that acknowledges that every leader is also a person, and the intersection of the personal and professional cannot be ignored. Each chapter includes an innovative "Taking Action" section that provokes reflection and actions the reader can take to make the desired improvements. You're being coached to success right through to the very end of the book and beyond!

The Impact of Confidence comes to life for the reader with examples of experiences Tim has had with coaching clients at all levels of organizations. Rather than just giving lists of things to do as a leader, the impactful skills and techniques unfold as he describes how they have been applied and brought about success for his clients. The result is an accessible narrative that makes you root for the client, and want to use the skills you just witnessed.

The author's personal story is woven into an introduction that details his own successful journey of running a coaching business that was a pivot from his long career as a corporate executive. The transparency he shares of the highs and lows of making such a change helps the reader see him/herself in the realities of uncovering one's passion and having the confidence to step into areas they might have been reluctant to pursue.

To help establish a framework for the leader reading the book, the author offers the 4 C's of Leadership as the first chapter. This aligns confidence with the other key leadership components of connecting, competence, and culture. He contends confidence is where it all begins, and it's helpful to see how that aligns with the three other impactful dimensions of leadership.

Aspiring and successful leaders rely on cognitive frameworks to make sense of complex organizations, interpersonal relationships, and contexts. Tim Ressmeyer's extensive work as an executive coach helped him to formulate a practical and accessible framework for personal and professional growth in leadership capacity and resilience, built on the principles of confidence, connecting, competence, and culture. Tim's book is rich with stories from his own experience and those of his clients. He offers us a useful framework for building confidence authentically and provides exercises to help the reader apply principles to one's specific situation. It's a quick read filled with wisdom and insight and worth investing the time, whether one is at the beginning of a leadership journey or in search of a new adventure.

Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D.

President, Valparaiso University (IN)

Keywords: Leadership, Coaching, Business, Personal Growth, Self-Help, Confidence, Success, Transition, Management, Fulfillment

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781506906508
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Publication date: 07/16/2018
Pages: 152
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.33(d)

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

The Confidence to Lead: The 4 C's of Leadership

Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

John F. Kennedy

You should be doing what you uniquely can do.

Tim Ressmeyer

I've seen – and experienced – the highs and lows of successful leadership.

Sometimes you feel you're on the top of your game. You're in the flow or in the zone. You can take on any challenge, and you are confident you will be successful. Whether it's coming up with a big idea, leading a client meeting, or telling your boss why you want that promotion, you feel like you can do anything. And sometimes that confidence is so much harder to come by.

Sometimes you feel you can connect with anyone. Whether in networking, selling, communicating or managing, you feel you can form relationships that work to your benefit.

And there are times you feel you're just not clicking and no matter what you do you can't seem to create the relationship you want or need.

You know what it feels like when someone comes up to your desk and asks a complicated question, and the answer rolls right off your tongue. You remembered the content and how to solve the problem and recalled it brilliantly. You're in the flow. You know your stuff and were able to apply it. That feels good.

Alternatively, there are those times when you're in over your head. Knowledge of the subject matter is no longer as easy as it was. Whether more was expected than planned for your role, or you just didn't keep up with the necessary expertise, your competence is not adequate for the task at hand.

Finally, sometimes you know you're in an environment where everything is clicking. The ability to play to your strengths because your skills are valued, feedback is handled constructively, you see a career path, or you know you are making a difference is all part of a culture you long to be part of.

There are, however, too many situations where people feel the culture is toxic. There is so much negativity; going to work is not only uninspiring, but it can be physically painful. And you don't seem able to make a difference.

Over the course of my leadership and coaching career, I am convinced these four components, Confidence, Connecting, Competence, and Culture create a framework to understand leadership that leads to success. The leader who can look at themselves through this lens – and are willing to dig deep into the elements of each – will discover a holistic path to fulfillment both personally and professionally.

Leaders who get out of their own way, put themselves on a professional growth track that is based in the authenticity of their strengths and values, are willing to learn and trust as they go, and draw from the energy of those around them are the ones who will succeed.

Matthew had just moved into a senior management role and was thrilled with the title, responsibility, money, and opportunity to grow with an innovative company. In his mid-30's, he was confident this was the right move for him and his family, professionally and personally.

He hired me as his coach when things began to unravel after a couple of years in this role. He came to me angry and afraid. Angry that what he expected from his boss and the company hadn't materialized. He felt the promises made where not being honored. Bonuses were not as large as anticipated or being paid out in a timely fashion. He felt new criteria for the payouts were being made on the fly; the goal posts were being moved. His reviews included a lot of positives for his professional capabilities, but there was a lot of conflict on his team for which he was being held accountable. His relationships with others on the leadership team were spotty. He had his allies, but others were not willing to work with him in the ways he felt would bring about positive change.

His home life was challenging as well. As a husband and father of a young child, there was stress inherent to the relationship with his wife and as a parent. He traveled a fair amount, and his work commitments occupied a great deal of his time as well as emotional capacity. He wanted to be a good dad, and the increasing negativity at work was impacting his ability to do just that. Likewise, carrying that stress into the workplace was not helping him deal with the ever-increasing pressures.

Matthew was losing confidence in his ability to be the executive and husband/father he wanted to be. There were fractures in his capacity to connect and build healthy relationships at the office and with his family. He was losing a willingness to listen to others and see things from another point of view. His anger and resentment were compromising his competence in his role, and he stopped doing the full range of professional activities he was good at. He blamed the toxic environment on others, feeling the culture was tilted against him.

He began to question his own ability to have an impact, stopped connecting with people he didn't get along with, started to not deliver against his strengths, and he blamed it on the culture. He wanted out of his job.

When prospective clients come asking me to help them "get a new job because it's horrible where I am," I tell them with that kind of a mindset they're not ready for a new position. You don't want to go on the market angry or desperate. I assure them a new job might be in your future, but right now we're going to work on you. The goal of coaching at this point is to set yourself up for success whether you move on or stay where you are.

With a significant amount of work together, Matthew began to realize this perspective. He knew it wasn't just the culture. He realized he would have to make changes in his approach. Otherwise, the same cycle would repeat itself. He wanted to break the cycle.

He realized how he was showing up wasn't working and he wasn't the leader he wanted to be.

In my coaching practice, I focus on these 4 C's of Leadership when creating a custom program for clients. For each of the areas, we evaluate the current state using assessments and discovery as necessary and set goals for moving forward to achieve personal and organizational goals. Coaching serves to: uncover the obstacles that are in the way, teach new ways to approach challenging situations, support effective and newly learned behaviors, applaud results, and build in the motivation for continued success.

Matthew's situation provides an instructive case study to see the importance and interplay of the 4 C's.

Confidence

Confidence is the way an individual "shows up" in every aspect of their professional life and is a key to success. Executive presence is built on confidence, and without it, the highest levels of success are not achievable. The focus is on identifying individual leadership strengths, and how these are manifest in normal and stressful situations. Then, through coaching, the leader can uncover what's holding them back and to learn the tools to present themselves in the most impactful manner possible.

Clearly articulating your viewpoint, standing up for yourself, or knowing what you want to do next, are the critical steps towards confidence.

Leaders benefit from active confidence. On one end is a passive confidence where you expect everything to work out and you don't try. Indeed it is a lack of confidence, and you are willing to let the current take you where it will. The other extreme is an arrogant confidence where you bully your way through life never learning from others and always feeling you have to be right. The most effective confidence is that which gives the leader the ability to step into any experience and create the outcomes they desire with the people and situation at hand. It's not always easy, and you don't know exactly what the outcome might be, but you are willing – and confident – to step in and create something amazing.

Matthew had lost confidence in his ability to continue on the career path he was truly capable of and had worked so hard to create. He had lost clarity as to where he wanted to go professionally. He felt handcuffed to a particular company because of both financial and ego-driven reasons. He was falling into the trap of starting to look for a similar position at a similar company. He was also fighting a tug to revive his entrepreneurial spirit from his college days. He had always wanted to run his own company and even had a plan sketched out for what that might look like. He didn't know how to sort out a constructive path forward.

Having muddled goals and a lack of confidence in his ability to control his world was playing out negatively every day at work. He tried to manage his team and be a leader in the company, and it wasn't working. His performance was not at the level it should have been for his role. The way he was interacting with his direct reports, peers, and the management above him were not up to his capabilities. He was also struggling to be seen as a leader across the larger organization.

He was falling into a pattern of blaming others and not believing in his ability to take charge of his destiny.

Matthew's role was highly visible. He had to be able to show that his work had a cross-functional impact, and he would frequently deliver presentations to groups across the company. We had been working together for a while when one of these speaking engagements was coming up. Matthew knew this was one of the places at work he wanted to break the cycle of frustration and blame of others for the way he was feeling. We talked about how we wanted to show up for his speech, and equally important how he wanted to feel after the speech. When you decide what you want to feel as you leave the stage, it helps you stay on track during your talk. "If I want to feel calm at the end, why am I allowing myself to get stressed out mid-speech. That's violating my goal. What can I do to get back on track to stay calm?"

We were focusing on his confidence. He described the negative energy of the people to whom he would be presenting. He saw them as the enemy and felt they would be non-responsive to his message to such an extent he told me he imagined them with BB guns aimed at his head during the presentation! They were looking to him to fail, and he was on the path to letting that happen.

We talked about the value of his speech for the company, how important it was, and how accurate his perception was about the hostile crowd. I pointed out you can't control other people, but you can control yourself. If you show up expecting to be attacked, guess what, that's what you'll get. You are not at your best if you have that sort of expectation.

Matthew set goals for himself before and after the presentation, and we discussed ways to reframe and get through the real and imagined obstacles he was anticipating.

Matthew texted me in the evening after he had delivered his presentation,

Hey! Presentation was a solid A. Feel exactly how I hoped and envisioned I would feel. Great feedback so far and feels very good. Was a good test, as the energy level in the room was very low most of the day. I was surrounded by negativity but found a way to rise above and do my thing. Felt very good.

Reestablishing his confidence as a presenter helped Matthew take a step forward in a critically important aspect of his job, and gave him a much-needed boost as he looked to move forward.

Connecting

Connecting is not just about how to communicate, it's how you connect with others. Whether it's your boss, senior management, colleagues, direct reports, clients, or vendors, research confirms the way in which we build trust with others allows us to achieve success, or to create barriers unnecessarily. Specific tools are utilized to help the leader engage with others to increase their ability to connect most effectively.

People have an inherent need and desire to connect with others. There are neurochemical processes in place that help facilitate connecting, and others that resist connections when there are perceived threats. As a leader, you are served by being aware of the behaviors you engage in that either hinder or encourage connection. Failure to be mindful of this obligation on your part to help foster connecting with others leads to barriers that inhibit the formation of relationships that lead to creativity, problem-solving, and growth.

Matthew's ability to connect with others had deteriorated significantly. He was so focused on his situation, and perceived everything as contrary, that he could not even find ways to foster impactful relationships with others. He was judgmental and mistrustful of those around him and was therefore unable to work towards collaborative solutions to the work that needed to be done.

One of the particularly difficult interactions was with his boss. He respected and admired his boss, but was finding fault with her on a range of issues. There was uncertainty across the company, and Matthew wanted reassurance he would "be OK" no matter the outcome of the changes. Even though he knew he was not performing at his best, Matthew craved validation regularly from his boss that he was doing well.

As he became increasingly self-aware that his work was subpar, Matthew began to distance himself from his boss. He didn't want to hear the realities and thought the best way was to work in his world and limit conversations as much as possible with his higher-ups. It's a normal tendency, whether conscious or not, to withdraw and become passive when you're not doing well, and you just want to avoid interacting with others.

We discussed the impact of this place into which he had drifted. Of course, he knew it was not sustainable to have this relationship with his boss, yet he was scared he would be called out on not working at the level she knew he was capable of. He was embarrassed.

We talked about ways to reconnect with his boss. There was still mutual respect; there was just a fraying of the relationship. Matthew decided to hit it head-on with his boss. He looked for the opportunity to have a professional conversation where he shared that he knew he could be a stronger performer than he had been. Rather than only worrying about himself in the context of the changes in the company, he showed empathy for his boss's situation by asking what he could do to help strengthen her position. And finally together they arrived at action steps to keep him on track and accountable for improved performance.

Reestablishing his relationship with his boss helped Matthew to also look at his relationships with his direct reports and peers. Feeling better about connections in one aspect of your life can help inspire them in others as well.

Competence

Simply stated, you have to know stuff. Subject matter expertise, time management, organization, sales, and productivity are among the array of skills a leader has to be able to have in their toolkit. Not every person has to be a master of everything, and certain benchmarks must be attained at an intermediate level, while others indeed have to be exceptional. Understanding roles and required competencies, skills training can be incorporated into a development program to ensure the leader has access to the tools to help them succeed.

Concerning competence, Matthew was willing to continue to use his comprehensive toolkit of skills to meet the needs of his role and the organization. He did run the risk of losing the motivation to stay relevant and overall was able to avoid this pitfall of not contributing to meet at least the essential competencies of his role. He was not, however, in the place of working hard to increase what he had to offer his company. Failure to grow in a position will not lead to long-term success.

When I moved from a role in a more traditional market research company to a senior analytics role in an advertising and digital media company, it was a real awakening about the need to keep learning and be relevant. It was at the time when digital marketing was taking off, and it seemed every week there was a new data source we had to figure out how to measure and integrate into our analytics. Our clients wanted to make sure we were capturing as much information as possible, and because big data was exploding, there was a lot of data of which to make sense. New programming tools were becoming prevalent and I knew nothing about them. As a senior exec, I didn't have to learn how to code in these languages, but I was definitely at a disadvantage not knowing them, and I had to learn and understand them as much as possible to be able to effectively lead my team.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "The Impact of Confidence"
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Copyright © 2018 Timothy J. Ressmeyer.
Excerpted by permission of First Edition Design Publishing, Inc..
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