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New Grads. New Leaders. Not Sure About the Next Level. (#197)


The Confident Leader


We’re celebrating a recent high school graduate in our family. I used the countless graduation events to gather intel about this group of future leaders. Here’s what they shared.

“Don’t take life too seriously. No one makes it out alive.”

―  Elbert Hubbard (American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher.)

This Week’s Edition

How is the recent class of graduates like the new leaders in your organization?

Clarify Your Thinking

Throughout countless celebratory events, my conversations with these bright-eyed graduates revealed that generally, they are excited about their next chapter.

The sense of adventure and freedom have them chomping at the bit to take on the next four years.

Diving further into the discussion, I found these eager grads are experiencing some deeper thoughts and feelings that may not be apparent in just a passing conversation.

Understandably, they are very thoughtful about the following:

  1. Can I do the work at the next level of rigor?
  2. What if I encounter others who don’t agree with me?
  3. Are my daily/weekly disciplines strong enough to sustain me?
  4. What may be ahead of me that I’m not prepared for?
  5. What is success beyond just survival?

Interestingly, these questions are almost the same as those we encounter when coaching leaders new to their positions. These unanswered questions often plant seeds of doubt about their leadership in the new role.

Old Thinking: I’m excited about the opportunity, but I question whether or not I can do the job at the next level.

New Thinking: Surely my experience to this point has prepared me for the next level. Even though I don’t know everything about the new role, I think I can figure it out. Plus, there are others around me I can lean on. 

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Before this month, it had not dawned on me the similarity between new grads and a leader who has recently graduated to the next level of leadership. 

Upon reflection, it makes sense. Like new grads, new leaders are leaving a position in which they have excelled, mostly likely the reason they’ve been promoted. 

However, the new elevated position represents a host of unknowns which may cause the new leader to ask themselves the same questions the new grads ask themselves above. 

For leaders who may be leading new leaders, here are some ideas on how you might support them. These are questions I’ve pulled directly from the conversation(s) I am having with my new graduate:

1. What is your vision for your college career?

    • What do you want to have accomplished?
    • What new skills will you have developed?
    • What experiences do you want to have had?
    • What type of people do you envision being in your circle?

    2. What are you most concerned about?

      • Make a list of each concern. Get them on paper.
      • Let’s address each one. Get a plan… step-by-step.
      • What does success look like?

      3. How can I best support you?

      • What do you need to be successful?
      • Who else do you need on your team?
      • What role does each person play for you?
      • How will you reach out when you need help?

      Whether you are supporting a recent grad, or a new leader or need support for your leadership, these power questions can drive valuable conversations that will alter the trajectory of the leadership experience. 

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      What’s Your Opinion?

      What advice would you give to a recent graduate? 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.