One of my clients recently had a big wobble in one of our coaching sessions. She’d been thinking about role models in the sector and wondering what she could learn from them. As we talked, I could feel the mood changing. These inspirational leaders, who at the start of our chat felt like peers and colleagues, were now prompting a major attack of Compare & Despair.
After a moment, she looked at me and whispered. “Why on earth would anyone follow me?”
It’s a great question
I often hear self-doubt in my coaching clients. All have done incredibly well in their careers and are in senior roles in their organisations. And yet they doubt themselves and their ability to lead. For some it can be debilitating for a length of time. For others it’s a brief drop in confidence.
To be honest, I don’t think these leaders would be human if they didn’t feel like this sometimes. But I know that when you lead an organisation, you don’t want to be feeling unworthy of the task.
So, I asked her… “Tell me, why would anyone follow you…?”
After a few self-deprecating comments and time to come back to herself, she began to speak.
“Because I know the issues like the back of my hand?”
“Yeees, and what else?”
“Because I’m passionate about our cause?”
Yes… and what else?
“Because I’m quite good at influencing?”
“Yes… and what else? (What else is the curious coach’s favourite question, by the way.)
And so we went on. The unconfident lift in her voice at the end of her statements faded away and soon she was reeling off her skills and talents and laughing as she came up with ten or more reasons why anyone would be a total fool not to follow her.
It all lasted about ten minutes and witnessing the shift in her was incredibly moving.
Why would anyone follow you?
Do you sometimes feel like my client? The good news is that you can reframe those feelings of inadequacy by asking yourself this one simple question: “Why would anyone follow me?”
Here are some possible answers to that question, each a key factor in how likely you are to be a leader that people follow. Which feel true for you?
Because you have a powerful vision for where you want your organisation to go?
Because you believe 100% in the abilities of your team?
Because you are highly skilled at motivating and inspiring others?
Because you’re a great spokesperson?
Because people in your team love you?
Because you’re curious and questioning about the best way to get things done?
Because you know how to build a great team around you?
Because you are highly respected in your field?
Because you have real skill in influencing the wider world?
Because you don’t blow your own trumpet?
Because you’re willing to learn what you don’t know?
Because you take risks without apportioning blame when they don’t work out?
Because you’re a great role model when it comes to staff wellbeing?
Because you give credit where credit is due?
Because you know yourself well?
Because you make mistakes, admit to them and move on?
Because you listen to others and value their contribution?
Because you won’t tolerate bad behaviour?
Because you’re willing to take difficult decisions?
Because you’ve brought your team through some tough times?
Yes! And what else?
Over to you
What stood out for you as a result of that exercise? Don’t worry if you didn’t give yourself a tick for each statement – that’s absolutely ok. How about using your insights into the gaps to set yourself some development goals for the next three months?
Getting in touch with the value of your unique leadership style is often easier (and more fun!) with support. If you struggle with self-doubt, I’d love to talk to you. I’ve got some space for new Gold Leadership Coaching clients right now, so get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 07958 501 427 and let’s see how I can help.