Too often I see people confusing executive communication with telling executives what they want to hear. This is especially tricky when you are communicating with executives several levels above you, and the opportunity is infrequent.
You must realize that executives have a lot of people telling them what they want to hear, and most of the time they feel like they are being sold a bill of goods. You don’t want to be included in that category.
You want to be known as someone who is on the team — not someone who is selling from the outside.
When you can show yourself as focused on the results that they need from you — you can free yourself up to be looking at how to help them achieve their goals. What roadblocks do you clear, what systems do you need? You move away from selling or complaining and onto getting alignment and getting it done.
I think of it like this:
If you are only about telling me what is wrong => pain in the rear
If you tell me it’s great, when I know it’s not => full of crap
If you tell me how we will get to success — the good/bad/ugly => on the team
The more quickly you get on the team — the better career opportunities you will see.
I was in a meeting a few weeks back and found myself thinking about language, brand and power.
Those who know me well, might guess I was thinking about profanity — a personal favorite in the language category — but alas my topic is about driving the right perception of your abilities with direct and confident language.
It is easy to undermine your own authority, by using language that is vague or indecisive.
In a world that is now dominated by global teams and conference calls, this becomes as important to personal brand as body language. What does your language tell others about you?
Does it tell them to take you more or less seriously?
Do you use mitigated speech and defer your power to others?
While your language might not be the cause of a plane crash — it can be encouraging others to perceive you as less capable.
Perception becomes reality as it relates to your career — you are crafting that perception with everything you do. Use your language as a tool to help people understand the best of your capabilities.
I ponder this question a lot. In fact, I initially titled this post “Are you holding yourself back?” and realized that everyone does and the real question is does it matter?
It matters, when you are holding yourself back from your own aspirations.
When I consider this topic for myself, I have been focusing on the question: where do I belong?
I find that I must first believe that I belong, or I will not allow others to believe with me. The bold belief that we can be more than we are today — that is the trick. This is what mentors and sponsors help us see… ourselves as belonging in contexts we did not before.
For those fortunate enough to have a sponsor do that for you, consider yourself blessed. For those of us who have to work this out on our own, know this — you have everything you need to make this happen.
You are smart, you are willing to work hard, you have built a team to support you and you are working out your own personal career strategy.
I encourage you to give yourself permission to belong where you did not before, and help others imagine you in the role* that you now belong. You will be amazed how far you can go when you quit holding yourself back.
*OMG are those cute kids or what?