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What Do You Want? (#149)

TCL Illustration 149

The Confident Leader


“Chad, welcome to you first coaching session. My initial question is: ‘What’s your vision for the future? Essentially, what do you want?’” You will never guess how he responded.

“When you know what you want, you have an infinitely greater change of actually finding it.”

Robin Pou

This Week’s Edition

Surprisingly, most successful leaders I encounter are challenged with the straightforward question, “what do you want?” This week’s edition explores the complexity of this simple question.

Clarify Your Thinking

Chad answered the question, “what do you want?” with the following:

“Robin, I’m so glad you asked. First, I don’t want to lose any customers. Second, I don’t want to lose marketshare. Third, I don’t want disengaged employees who aren’t grateful.”

Dutifully, I took my coach’s notes. Then, I said to him, “Chad, respectfully, I didn’t ask you want you don’t want. I asked you what you do want.”

“Oh!” he said. “I… I don’t know.” As a result, we spent the next few session diving deep into that question to determine what Chad wanted in his role as a leader, for his organization, for his team. He took some time to define his vision for the future. 

It seems counterintuitive for successful leaders not to have a firm grasp on what they want, this situation is often caused by a few reasons that come with the complexity of the top leadership spot:

  • Uncertainty about the ever-changing future
  • Doubt about their ability to achieve something they’ve never done
  • Indecision related to too many options

A leader’s lack of knowing what they want can have several negative impacts on their leadership and their team:

  • Lack of clear direction 
  • Inconsistent decision-making 
  • Poor communication
  • Decreased motivation and drive
  • Missed opportunities

Old Thinking: I’m clear on what I don’t want. Isn’t that sufficient? I may not know what I want in part because I don’t know what’s possible. I’ll just keep plugging away and hope we achieve some success.

New Thinking: Whoa… if I don’t know what I want how can I expect my team to know what they want. I need to do the work to get clear on what I want so I can lead the team in an aligned direction. 

Thoughts Lead to Actions

To mitigate the negative impacts of not knowing what they want, leaders can pursue clarity around what they want – their vision for their leadership role, their organization’s future state and the culture that will deliver the desired results.

Take these steps to gain that clarity:

Step 1: Write all the things you don’t want. If you are naturally prone to think of the things you don’t want, start there. Purge that list from your mind. 

Step 2: Look at each item on your list that you don’t want. Identify a contrasting item – something you do want.

Step 3: Identify what you currently have – the assets, items, team members, benefits you currently possess that may be the raw materials you utilize to help you achieve what you want.

Chad was clear on what he didn’t want. He flipped the script to determine what he did want. His list created great motivation to achieve that vision. He used that clarity to achieve everything on his list within about five years. Kudos to you Chad!

We overestimate what we can achieve in one year. We underestimate what we can achieve in five.

Boost Your Performance

This week’s video expounds on the concept of knowing what you want by offering a few different takes on the question. Tune in to find out.

What’s Your Opinion?

What is something you have determined you want? 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.