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Can Your Relationship Withstand the Big Ask? (#145)

TCL Illustration 145

The Confident Leader


Last week, at his quarterly State of the Union, I watched a CEO make big demands of his team, the type that recently have landed some top leaders on social media for all the wrong reasons. I was surprised to see how his comments were received. 

““This business would be easy if not for all these people.”

— Every leader at some point in their leadership career

This Week’s Edition

Is the relationship with your team strong enough to withstand the requests you need to make of them during these challenging times?

Clarify Your Thinking

The CEO addressed the top 40 leaders in his company with clear expectations:

1. Be inclusive – stamp out exclusive groups

2. Be curious for more information – don’t just say we have poor communication

3. Take ownership of the issue – don’t say “that’s not my job.” 

This CEO’s statements were not dissimilar to some recent CEOs whose remarks have been negatively broadcast widely on social media

Having followed those CEO fails, I was curious to see the response from the leaders in this room. Even though this CEO’s remarks could have been construed as tone deaf demands to an overworked team, they weren’t… why?

1. He has a big relationship with his team. I could tell that they know that he cares about them.

2. Over the course of the day, I saw that they respected him.  

3. As a team they have a vision for the future. They all know and believe in the mission of the organization.  

These are all components of their collective formula for success. Big relationships can handle big situations and big requests.  

Old Thinking: I have to deliver some hard news to the team. I have to rally them to engage more fully to help solve these issues. I don’t know how to do that. I doubt they will respond well.

New Thinking: I trust my team. I trust them with the information. I’ll figure out a way to better communicate to them our current situation and trust they will do their part. 

Thoughts Lead to Actions

To fight any doubt you may have about your relationship with your team and your ability to rally the troops to tackle the gnarly challenges of the day, think about undertaking the following three steps to grow your confidence:

Step 1: Ask for feedback about how the leadership team is performing:

  • What’s going well? 
  • Not going well? 
  • Could be done better?

Step 2: Remind the team of the Vision, Purpose and Identity of the organization. 

  • Tell them again where you all are going, why you are going there and who you are as a team.

Step 3: Ask them to set expectations for how they should operate as a team. 

  • Determine what needs to stop happening.
  • Start happening. 
  • Keep happening

The CEO’s conversation with his team was a perfect set up for the leadership training we were asked to do for them. His comments set the stage. They consumed every leadership nugget we offered. They saw the support we were offering as useful to approach the big request the CEO had made.

Boost Your Performance

Spend your Leadership Thinking Time this week determining how you can grow your relationship with your team… because you know the next big “ask” is just around the corner.

#145 from Robin Pou on Vimeo.

What’s Your Opinion?

How will you invest in your relationships this week? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 


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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.