Last week I had the privilege of facilitating a 2 day advanced presentation skills program with a group of executives. For many of them, presenting in front of a room full of people was a frightening thought and experience, and for some, one that they often sought to avoid as much as possible. However, to their credit, each of them placed themselves in a vulnerable position outside of their comfort zone and did a great job. In fact, the transformation in each of the participants over 2 days was extraordinary, even though individually, they did not necessarily yet have conscious awareness of it. The feedback from their peers though was exceptional – the presentations were influential, impactful and engaging, which provided the audience with a sense of calm and certainty that they were in the right room.
Interestingly though, when I asked each of the presenters how they felt after their 2nd presentation, many of them shared that they were exceptionally nervous just before presenting, and quite calm and confident at the conclusion. As a group we then discussed the importance of being certain in the role as leaders, especially during those ’moments of truth’, and ensuring that your level of certainty exceeds your audience’s doubt.
There were a number of lessons that came out of the discussion which has a specific impact on your leadership, including :
- As a leader, it is critical to appear certain, especially when your people are not. People look to the leader for strength and direction, and despite potentially feeling nerves on the inside, a leader must ensure that his uncertainty is invisible. It is okay for a leader to demonstrate a level of vulnerability, as vulnerability can be a great leadership strength, and your people are looking to you to lead. So be certain, or at least act as if you are certain – this does not mean ‘fake it until you make it’, because this is non genuine. I’m talking about getting fully into a character which is so certain, that you feel it throughout your entire physiology. When you do this, watch how your people will respond.
- As a leader, constantly seek opportunities to expand your comfort zone and stretch your level of capability. This takes confidence and certainty and sometimes in doing this, you may trip and fall. Know that falling is part of the journey – just make sure you get up and keep moving forward. Remember, life gets exciting outside of your comfort zone.
- Identify and align yourself with a strong role model who is certain and confident, and model them. Elicit from them the strategies they run to appear calm and certain and duplicate it. Remember, one of the key responsibilities of leadership is to teach your people new skills and create new experiences for them to develop. Emulating a strong role model will allow you to create those opportunities for them, despite their possible doubt.
- Be consciously aware of your body language, your eye contact and your mindset when leading your people. Remember that, as a leader, you are ‘always on’ – as we have covered in previous articles, your people are watching your every move, and looking even closer at what you are not doing. Ensure that how you hold yourself and interact with others communicates a high level of certainty. This will allow your people to feel more at ease, and definitely safer.
My belief around leadership is that your team and your environment is a 100% reflection of you. So when you notice that your team appear doubtful and potentially anxious, this is a reflection of you – there is a level of doubt and anxiousness that sits within you. Hence, as a leader, it is critical that you build a level of certainty within yourself that exceeds any doubt you have, and certainly any level of doubt that your team has. Focus your attention on this, and your leadership & influence will take off.
To your continued leadership success.
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I would also welcome the opportunity to have a conversation with you. I currently have 4 slots available over the next week for a 30 minute 1:1 strategy call. If you are experiencing a current challenge around your leadership, I would love to help. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll set up a time to chat. No obligation, and no cost. I look forward to connecting with you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post – I greatly appreciate it, and welcome comments and feedback. Please feel free to comment below, to follow me on LinkedIn, or to connect via Twitter or Facebook.
Darren is a Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Coach, Facilitator & Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.