I work with so many brilliant, competent women who struggle to succeed in their careers. While their personal brands look great on paper, lack of confidence and a fear of opening their mouths hold these women back.
They don’t think anyone wants their opinions, or worse, worry that voicing those opinions could get them into trouble.
The truth is that constant fear – and the lack of confidence that comes with it – is far more likely to lead to job-related conflict than speaking up.
A Strong Personal Brand Requires You Face Your Fears
One of my clients has had a revolving door of higher-ups since taking on a new position nearly a year ago. Her current boss likes to dump tasks on her and head off to play golf while she’s stuck with an overwhelming workload.
“He’s never articulated what his vision is for my position,” she told me. When I asked her if she’d addressed her concerns with him, she said no. “I’m worried that if I push back, I’ll get fired.
It’s important to remember that people choose to leave far more often than they’re fired in most companies. So, if leadership isn’t giving you the information you need to do your job well, it’s time to face your fears and ask for it.
We’ve all heard the acronym F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real). It’s certainly important to recognize when your emotions are leading you astray, but you have to take action if you don’t want fear running your life. The following four tips can help.
Fake It Until You Believe It
- Not to be confused with ‘Fake It ‘til you make it,’ which was a mantra I blindly repeated early on in my career. I learned the hard way that people can always spot inauthenticity when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.
But if you have the skills required to get the job done it’s crucial to remind yourself of that daily. Often, we don’t experience an internal shift towards belief until we’ve taken a significant risk and come out on the other side victorious. Until that happens, positive affirmations can help. Instead of saying “I can’t,” or “I will fail,” say “I can,” or “I am already succeeding.”
Expectations Are Everything
It’s critical to know what your leaders expect from you. Furthermore, you need to know why a specific goal is essential and feel empowered to achieve it. This often requires that you ask for clarification.
Before heading into any conversation about expectations, pause first and get clear on your questions. Listen more, talk less, and keep your points concise. And remember, your expectations of yourself aren’t always your boss’ expectations of you. We can often be our harshest critics and expect more of ourselves than the project requires.
Accountability Keeps Fear At Bay
Hold your team members accountable by ensuring that everyone is clear on deliverables, deadlines, and reporting. If a team member runs into trouble, it’s your job to determine why and address the situation before it becomes a larger problem.
When talking to your people be honest. There’s no point in beating around the bush to spare someone’s feelings. These conversations are challenging but well worth it in the end.
Of course, accountability isn’t just about making sure your direct reports hit their milestones. It’s also essential to hold your leaders accountable. When it’s time to address an issue, come to the conversation with potential solutions rather than complaints. You’re far more likely to receive guidance and support this way.
Recognize The Wins
Take the time to acknowledge your successes and recognize that despite your fears, you are getting the work done. Doing so will help you manage fear in the future.
The same goes for your team members. When people get a pat on the back, their confidence grows, they become more effective, and your personal brand looks even better.
Remember, experiencing fear is a natural part of being human. But overcoming that fear and taking risks will give you the boost you need to thrive, not just survive, in your career.
If you think fear is negatively impacting your strong leadership brand, let’s talk!