Recently, I was meeting with a 40-something client of mine, a long-time Managing Director at a successful middle-market private equity firm. He described the process by which he had just landed a seat on the board of advisors of a very prestigious international studies program at his alma mater. “Somehow my name came to the attention of the one of the current board members – a real hitter – and he asked me if I would consider joining the board. Things moved pretty quickly after that and before I knew it, after only one interview, I was named to the board. I cannot believe my good fortune! This board is filled with major hitters.” I could not help noting his repeated use of the word “hitter” and how apparent it was that he did not consider himself one although he was now a peer of all the so-called hitters on the advisory board. So I asked him, “If you are on this board of hitters, what does that make you?” In spite of all his achievements and seat on the advisory board, his professional identity was stuck at a level below that of the hitter that he had become. He still viewed himself as a grinder, child of immigrants that somehow did not deserve the successes he had achieved. This lagging professional identity can be damaging to a fast-track career. Some executives continually strive to ask for more challenges and high profile assignments, confident in their ability to perform. Conversely, executives with a self-perception that has not caught up with their achievements are less apt to position themselves for such assignments, with the result being slower advancement. So, ask yourself, “What is my professional identity? What truly have I accomplished and what am I capable of right now?” Test your answers against several of your closest work colleagues and/or your spouse. Finally, come up with a statement that accurately describes your professional identity – today and five years into the future – and keep it wherever you keep your professional and personal goals. Do not allow your professional identity to slow you down!
Can You Accept a Compliment?
I often notice that when I acknowledge or champion a client, they become momentarily uncomfortable. Their voice changes, their eyes look away and they mumble something about how they just got lucky or their achievements were not really that significant. Why is it so hard for high-achievers to accept a compliment and, more importantly, what does this kind of behavior say about their self-perception? For many, the voice that deflects compliments is the voice of insecurity and self-criticism. So, practice accepting compliments graciously for the next two weeks. When receiving a compliment, simply look squarely at the person voicing the praise, let them finish uninterrupted and just say “Thank you. I appreciate it.” Take a minute and let their comments sink in. You deserve it!
First-time CEO Springboard
Have you recently been promoted to CEO of your organization? If so, what are your priorities for your first 90 days? What is your leadership stake? What is your commitment to your organization’s values and vision? How will you manage your board? How will you integrate with your senior team? Through my First-time CEO Springboard Coaching Program, I will help you achieve clarity regarding these questions and more. Please contact me for details.
Peter Feer, CPCC, ACC