Stepping up with confidence into management and leadership roles can be a daunting tasks for even the most confident of ‘next best things’ out there. The pressure of performance, the scrutiny of shareholders, the politics of people management – can all take a toll on otherwise talented and confident leaders. Through our ‘Lir at Work’ training programmes, we work nearly exclusively with people whose performance does not match potential. Who have all the education and ability in the world – but when it comes to executing an impactful performance when they need it most – Dr. Confidence gate-crashes the party and even the best laid plans become undone.
So how can we communicate with confidence when we’re in leadership positions? How can we cast aside the self-doubt, the imposter that’s in us all? How do we step up and be seen – and inspire others around us to do the same?
The answer is simple. We adapt.
British naturalist Charles Darwin famously wrote in his 1869 book ‘Origin of Species’ that organisms best adjusted to their environment are the most successful. Elsewhere Yuval Noah Harari, best-selling author of ‘Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind’ wrote that homosapiens inherited the earth not because of their strength or size (Homeneanderthal were much larger and stronger for instance) – but because of their ability to adapt to ever changing environments and challenges. And so, communicating with confidence as a leader ultimately stems from our ability to adapt our communication style to suit the ever changing demands and challenges that leadership roles encounter.
In The Lir at Works’ programme ‘Leading with Impact’ we ask participants to think about what their natural leadership style is – focusing on Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries 8 preferred leadership archetypes.
- The strategist: leadership as a game of chess. These people are good at dealing with developments in the organisation’s environment. They provide vision, strategic direction and outside-the-box thinking to create new organisational forms and generate future growth.
- The change-catalyst: leadership as a turnaround activity. These executives love messy situations. They are masters at re-engineering and creating new organisational ”blueprints.”
- The transactor: leadership as deal making. These executives are great dealmakers. Skilled at identifying and tackling new opportunities, they thrive on negotiations.
- The builder: leadership as an entrepreneurial activity. These executives dream of creating something and have the talent and determination to make their dream come true.
- The innovator: leadership as creative idea generation. These people are focused on the new. They possess a great capacity to solve extremely difficult problems.
- The processor: leadership as an exercise in efficiency. These executives like organisations to be smoothly running, well-oiled machines. They are very effective at setting up the structures and systems needed to support an organisation’s objectives.
- The coach: leadership as a form of people development. These executives know how to get the best out of people, thus creating high-performance cultures.
- The communicator: leadership as stage management. These executives are great influencers and have a considerable impact on their surroundings.
It’s natural that we as individuals will all adopt the archetype that we most easily identify with. Many of us identify with two or more archetypes oftentimes base these decisions on our natural communication style. We tend to migrate to behaviours that we are naturally better at. The truly empowered communicator however, becomes familiar with the archetypes that come less naturally to them and learns to adapt their behaviour to embrace a difference approach and style to affect a better result from any situation.
By adapting our communication style to suit the immediate need – even if it puts us out of our comfort zone – we inevitably produce results, build rapport and develop opportunity. From these simple steps, we lay the foundation to deliver results – achieve success – and ultimately grow in confidence to communicate with greater impact as a leader. Success breeds success. Success grows confidence.
So I would urge anyone, struggling to communicate with confidence as a leader to analyse their natural leadership approach and then take the time to study these 8 archetypes of leadership. By learning to adapt our communication style to foster success, like our Sapien forefathers, we too can inherit the earth.
At the Lir At Work we deliver a series of confidence building courses for both individuals and groups. These incorporate a range of theoretical, practical, learning modules designed to strengthen confidence for anyone who fears or is uncomfortable with leading teams in high pressure environments.