Leadership Transformation Blog  

006 Communication for Executives: How to Exude Confidence, Gain Trust, and Accelerate Problem-Solving

by | Apr 30, 2024 | Leadership Strategy, Leadership Tips

Stepping into a leadership role can be exhilarating yet daunting because you want to be ready for whatever challenges await you. Whether you’ve just accepted your first leadership position, expanded your leadership responsibility, or hope to be promoted into a leadership role—your desire to exude confidence and competence is clear. 

But here’s the catch: effective leadership isn’t just about showcasing successes; it’s about embracing vulnerability and communicating with purpose and authenticity. 

While there are important benefits associated with sharing successes, your desire to impress your leaders can actually hinder open dialogue about specific problems that may be growing in magnitude. In conversations, especially with your own leaders, you may be afraid of disappointing them or causing them to regret hiring or promoting you. To mitigate these fears, you may find yourself downplaying or omitting concerns that are weighing on you. 

On the other hand, you may be a person who tends to overshare concerns, problems, and frustrations, causing your leaders to worry about you and whether you are in over your head. In both of these scenarios, higher-level communication skills need to be developed.

By becoming more self-aware of concerns or fears that can impact the effectiveness of your communication, you give yourself the opportunity to generate communication strategies that foster trust and confidence. You can learn to discern which problems need early intervention and insight from your leader. You can learn to talk about real issues honestly without sacrificing professional respect or causing unnecessary worry.

Sharing Success Plays a Pivotal Role in Building Trust

Knowing how to communicate your successes has some massive benefits. It helps your leader have confidence in you and your ability to achieve results. It causes others to think of you when opportunities emerge. And it is pivotal in helping you build a reputation of being dependable and able to get the job done

If you are not communicating success, you are missing a vital component of your job. Others absolutely need to know the positive contributions coming from you and your team. Equally important, and an often overlooked leadership responsibility, is to acknowledge and navigate treacherous communication waters—when you encounter unforeseen obstacles—insufficient resources, competing or shifting priorities, environmental disruption, personality conflicts, or other difficulties and disruptions. These challenges call for candid conversations that can easily go wrong in light of the high-stakes and emotionally charged context. 

Your Fear Can Corrupt Your Communication

You might be a bit like one of our clients—a senior leader known for getting things done, but afraid of being seen as someone who can’t handle challenges. The fear of being inadequate may cause you to over-rely on producing results and keeping communication uber-positive.

If you’re similar to her, you may paint vivid pictures of your successes, but keep problems to yourself, suffering in silence, and dreading the day when you have to let others know about the issue. This omission of your struggles may be something you rarely notice or something on which you pride yourself. In any case, recognizing the fears that keep you from speaking up and prevent you from catalyzing support from those who can help, is fundamental as you scale your capability to transcend higher-level leadership challenges.

As you become increasingly self-aware, you’ll be able to simultaneously acknowledge your insecurities while remembering other obstacles you have overcome through the years—that you have been up to the challenges you’ve faced. As you remember, you will find it easier to release the jagged grip of your insecurities, allowing yourself to become more confident and transparent in your communications with your leader.

Still, Not Everything Needs to Be Shared with Your Leader

Sharing successes is important, but it can backfire if you are not also previewing emerging problems. Blindsiding your leader with rocky situations that can cause delays or increased costs can predispose them to second-guess your work. By giving them early notice of these situations coupled with your well-thought-out plans and an openness to their input, you’ll be able to successfully navigate challenges. This does not mean you will share every concern or potential issue. Over-sharing and over-emoting about your challenges tends to cause your leader to worry about you. Figuring out the appropriate, authentic, solutions-focused communications approach that produces your intended result is the job you are leaning into.

As you continue to grow in your capacity as a leader, you will become better at discerning the early warning signs of problems that require more finesse from you and more engagement from your leader. A good rule of thumb is no surprises for them AND no surprises for their leader. As you communicate proactively, you’ll be able to avoid catching your leader off guard with an issue that has grown beyond their ability to resolve in the background. They want to know when there’s still enough time to partner with you and others to mitigate damage and create a positive outcome.

Clear and Strategic Communication Will Help You Solve Problems Sooner and with Greater Confidence

As you take on a new level of responsibility, you can exude confidence and capability in your communications when you are intentional about what and how you communicate. Absolutely share your successes, AND deliberately share relevant and timely concerns with your leader so together you can overcome obstacles and build unshakeable trust with each other. By taking this approach, you’ll be able to solve problems before they become unmanageable, and you will be able to prove to yourself and others that you can take on whatever challenges are ahead.

Highlights

[00:00:59]: As you aim to impress, are you making this mistake?

[00:02:47]: The benefits of sharing your successes with your leader

[00:03:51]: Does the anxiety and pressure you feel accurately represent your circumstance?

[00:04:45]: A question to ask yourself to better understand your leader’s perspective and concerns

[00:05:31]: Ascertaining what you need to share with your boss to work more collaboratively

[00:06:49]: Developing a strong thought partnership

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