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The #1 Thing Good Leaders Believe (#120)

The Confident Leader

A number of years ago, I was facilitating a workshop for a group of leaders. When I got to the often quoted foundational crux of my content, I authoritatively declared, “thoughts lead to actions, actions lead to results.” The CEO who had hired me spoke up. Her comment practically knocked me over.

If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.
— Alexander Hamilton (American Revolutionary, statesman and Founding Father of the United States)

This Week’s Edition

Knowing what you believe and why you believe it allows you to stand firm on the foundation of your hard-fought leadership wisdom.

Clarify Your Thinking

That CEO went on to say, “Robin, I get what you are saying, and I know that is the core of your coaching, but…” 

“But what…” I immediately thought to myself. I’ve staked my whole coaching career on this core principle from sports psychology – thoughts lead to actions; actions lead to results.  What could she possibly be challenging?

She went on to say, “but, what about… belief?  Where is ‘belief’ in your formula?”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. She was right. Where was belief? I immediately wished she had been with us in our meetings with our editor at McGrawHill.

Thoughts lead to actions. Yes, AND it is what we believe that informs our thoughts. What we believe produces our thinking which produces our leadership behavior and generates our performance results. Thoughts. Actions. Results. 

Leaders who engage me as their executive coach have experienced challenges that cause them to question themselves.  They question what they believe to be true about their leadership. If left untreated, I have found that this questioning usually devolves into full blown leadership doubt

Old Thinking: My world is upside down. What I once thought was true doesn’t seem true now. I’m lost. I thought I was a good leader. I think I have hit my leadership limit. 

New Thinking: Wow… I am feeling doubtful about my ability to lead. I need to have a conversation with someone to get out of my head before my inner critic wins the argument.

Thoughts Lead to Actions

The stakes are higher than they’ve ever been before. Leaders today are faced with challenging, dynamic and fluid situations that can cause even the best to question their leadership.

Am I any good at this? Can I really lead these people or this organization? I’m concerned we are doomed for failure. 

I use the following exercises with leaders as a way to remember the truth of their leadership and operate from a fixed and secure foundation:

  1. Past Successes: write a list of your successes as a leader

  2. Strengths: make a list of your strengths

  3. Purpose: write your purpose statement for being a leader

  4. Team: write a statement for each of your team members as to why you have them on the team

  5. Vision: make a list of the opportunities your organization has in its industry

Do any one of these exercises (or all of them) and you will discover and/or be reminded of what is true about your leadership. This will allow you to keep it front and center as waves of challenges crash over the bow of your leadership. Anything contrary to what you know to be true will not take hold and simply fall away. 

Boost Your Performance

With plenty of feedback and data coming at leaders all the time, it’s crucial to know what is true. A good friend, gave me a great coaching phrase that has helped me realize the power of seeking outside perspectives. The coach needs a coach. Find out more in this week’s video.

What’s Your Opinion?

What is true about your leadership that you may have forgotten over time? Let me know 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.

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