As an executive coach I have the privilege of working with some amazing business leaders. It’s extremely satisfying to help these executives make a small shift in their perspective and then watch them use their new outlook to make changes, sometimes dramatic, in their own behavior. Sometimes a very simple idea can make measurable changes in how they operate if they are committed to improving and open to feedback. And they wont get too far as an executive without those two attributes anyway.
I was working with a senior executive not too long ago who had gotten some feedback from his peers that he wasn’t speaking up enough on conference calls and in meetings. This leader had some solid ideas and opinions and was more in touch with customer needs than many executives I’ve worked with. Most of his peers and especially his superiors, wouldn’t have described him that way though, because he was keeping that knowledge all to himself.
After a few discussions, it became clear that while this leader had valuable information and ideas that would add to the meetings, he didn’t believe that was the case. He had conditioned himself to think that someone else would probably contribute the same thing eventually and that his ideas my not be as good or as relevant as the other executives in the room.
Once we identified the mental roadblock he had created for himself we worked to shift it so he would add more value to the business as well as his career. This executive needed a constant reminder that he possessed value that would never be realized by the business if he kept waiting for someone else to add it. We created an index card for him with three thoughts that he needed to keep clearly in mind while participating in meetings.
1. My knowledge and experience will add value to this meeting.
2. People in this meeting want to hear my thoughts and ideas.
3. Our business and my career will benefit from me being heard.
The executive kept this card with him at all times. He would set it in front of him on conference calls and slide it discretely out of his binder and look at it during meetings. Not only did he feel better about contributing to the discussions over time but the feedback about him shifted from “He’s very reserved in meetings” to “He’s in touch with the business and our customers.” It didn’t happen overnight but by consciously changing his mindset by using the card before and during meetings, he gradually became more vocal and created a new behavior for himself. He also created a more accurate perception among his colleagues of his knowledge, abilities and value to the organization.
What’s interesting is that this executive already had the skill he needed to contribute effectively in the meeting. This wasn’t about teaching him any new skills. He simply needed to believe that he brought real value to the discussion and once he created and reinforced that conviction for himself, the new actions then followed.
There are many ways to change a mindset you have that is limiting you and often, coaching executives is more about removing the mental roadblocks than it is teaching new skills. No matter what actions or behaviors you are trying to change for yourself, creating a visual reminder that helps you consistently raise awareness will engage your brain and help you make the shift. Over time, the conscious effort becomes an unconscious habit whether it’s speaking up in meetings or achieving your own personal goals.
What’s holding you back from being your best? Here’s one thing that you can be sure of, if there’s something holding you or any of your business leaders back, then it’s holding your business back as well.
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