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Stay in the Boat. (#56)

The Confident Leader

The Great Resignation is precipitating changes in organizational leadership structures. Leaders are taking new positions at new companies as well as elevated positions at current companies. As a result of the changes, teamwork and alignment are taking a hit.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
— Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the U.S.)

This Week’s Edition

How do leaders in new roles assimilate, organize, and gain momentum – results they were hired to achieve?

Clarify Your Thinking

A leader recently confided in me that his new role was more challenging than he expected.  “Robin, I know I am a competent seasoned leader, but my peers are acting competitively, my leader is less than forth coming with crucial information, and my direct reports are unseasoned and unable to offer any insights.


The leader said, “I feel like I am swimming upstream. I know how to do what I was hired to do, but the waters are choppy in this leadership role. It’s really messing with my confidence. I don’t feel like myself.”


No leader is immune from doubting their leadership. Even qualified competent leaders who know they can do the job based on years of experience can suffer short periods of leadership doubt especially in times of significant disruption.


The leader’s reference to navigating choppy waters reminded me of a recent summer rafting trip from which I derived three leadership lessons which I shared to help increase his confidence.


post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

Our short three-hour rafting adventure was chocked full of leadership lessons.


WORK TOGETHER. The number one rule of rafting: “Stay in the boat,” our guide said. “To stay in the boat, you must work together. Lean in. It keeps us centered. Everyone will stay secure.”


Lesson: Leaders are the glue for teams to stick together. Unresolved infractions break trust. Distance will grow making it all but impossible to lean in toward one another when the real challenges come. As a result, team members will feel isolated. Lean into your relationships. Address what needs to be confronted.


ALIGNMENT: Our guide was the leader of our boat. She could see down river, and her commands helped us navigate the rapids. “Left forward one, right back two,” she said. Her instructions kept us in unison and ready at a moment’s notice to execute her next commands.


Lesson: Every project needs a leader with authority who has the trust of the team. This creates role clarity so the leader can engage everyone’s attention to be ready at the ready. Establish who’s in charge and define each person’s role.


PREPARATION: Even though we saw the boulder in the middle of the river and worked hard to avoid it, we careened right into in the middle of the roaring rapids. Because the current was strong it sucked part of the boat down into the water.


The guide yelled, “high-side,” calling us to immediately shift our body weight to the downstream side of the boat, closest to the rock. This counterintuitive moved solved the problem quickly, “easy peasy,” our guide said.


Lesson: Challenges in leadership are inevitable. Share that foreknowledge with your team. Determine in advance a responsive course of action. Identify the situation early and issue the leadership commands necessary to overcome the challenge. Easy peasy!


What’s Your Opinion?

You are trained for this. You’ve got this. Step forward confidently. Your experience is solid. Trust your team and their input. Make the decisions you need to make. Pursue your vision. Let the rest of the chips fall where they may. You can’t make everyone happy. Be bold.

Are you questioning your next strategic move for your business? Consider joining one of our leadership cohorts starting in September. Reach out to learn more about how to fulfill your greatest professional vision:

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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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.

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