Here’s something I know about you:
You’re not one of those people.
You’re not someone who wants to get to the top of your organization at all costs because you just crave power.
That’s because you don’t want to have power over people, you want to have power with people.
You want to get to the top of your organization, but you want to do it your way.
And as you’re rising through the ranks, this conflict can start to feel downright confusing. You may even start to doubt yourself or sabotage your own success.
But before you take that as a sign that you’re not cut out for senior executive leadership (spoiler alert: you absolutely are) I want you to listen to this episode.
In this episode of Maximize Your Career with Stacy Mayer you will learn why challenging situations will come up for you as you step into your power as a leader, AND I’ll give you the tools and strategies you need to approach these challenges in your own way.
What You'll Learn:
- Why stepping into your power can feel so uncomfortable
- Real life examples of ways you may be sabotaging yourself (so you can avoid them)
- The role of upper limit problem in limiting our success (and how to change that)
- The difference between having power over people, and having power with people
- Why you need to start thinking about growth as one of your five core leadership values
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
Welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I'm your host, Stacy Mayer. Super excited, as always, to be here with you this week and happy holidays!
At the time that this episode is released, you should be in the middle of your holiday vacation or something that looks like or resembles a holiday vacation for whatever 2020 is for you. So I just want to wish you and your family an absolutely wonderful and healthy end of the year.
And speaking of end of the year, I want to give a shout out to some of my Executive Ahead of Time participants who are really setting themselves up for success in 2021.
This is such an exciting opportunity for this group of people who joined my program at the end of the year to really get and learn all of the tools that they need to get themselves promoted into a senior executive leadership position and to have success once they get there.
So one of the examples I want to give you guys, you probably can relate. Tell me if you can relate to this. Something frustrating happens at work or you have that frustrating colleague or peer, or maybe it's your boss, unfortunately, who every time you have a conversation with them, they just drive you a little bit nuts.
So one of the modules in the executive ahead of time course is called Managing Your Emotions, where I give you all the tools to deal with both yourself and your colleagues in terms of those difficult emotions, those challenging situations, that come up.
And I wanted to share a success story from one of our participants. So we have a Voxer group where people get to connect and get coaching from me in a text message format. And one of our participants shared a "little win":
"Confronted by my challenging team member. Accused of questioning her work since she saw I had a calendar note to check in on a project. I remained calm, heard her out, followed up with a brief email, and remembered to breathe."
Now she put in parentheses little and everybody wrote after that:.
"No, this is a huge win!"
And if you're somebody who has had these sort of challenges that stick with you for days, weeks, months, you know what a huge win it is when you can just have a confronting conversation with somebody and not get all worked up and bent out of shape.
So here's to managing our emotions at the end of the year and into 2021 and beyond. This is not only a skill that helps you have less stress in your life, but it also shows senior executive leadership that you can handle difficult people. That you can handle challenging situations. Because, we think we're faking it. We think we're faking it really well, that we're able to hold it all together.
But people know. People know that other individuals get under your skin. And if you can be that employee that works well with others, including the difficult ones, then senior executive leadership will start to see you as being, not only fully capable, but ready to move in to that senior executive leadership role.
I just want you to know that this work works and becoming the Executive Ahead of Time is exactly what you need to do to make sure that you're set up for that next level of leadership.
So I also want to give you the opportunity to get onto the VIP wait list. If you're not already, go to www.ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com. We'll be reopening the program again next January, and I want to make sure, not only are you the first to know, but that you're able to take advantage of the bonuses and different opportunities that I offer to only the people on the VIP list.
So go to www.ExecutiveAheadOfTime.com and sign up, so that we can get you to start scaling yourself to the c-suite, not only setting yourself up for a fabulous next promotion, but also to have success once you get there.
Now, into today's episode, I actually was inspired by today's episode based on a couple of different things that happened with my clients.
So today's episode is all about power and how as we begin to step into our power as leaders, some challenging situations are going to come up for us. And I want to be able to give you some tools today so that you can start dealing with those challenges in perhaps a different way.
So one of the ways that we deal with power as we continue to rise up into higher levels of leadership is that we will deflect power. And I know that this is happening for you, because if you're listening to this podcast, you're not one of those traditionally power hungry type executives that, ever since you got your MBA, you've just been clawing your way to the top, leaving people in your dust, making sure that you got the highest, most powerful position at the company.
So I guarantee if you're listening to this podcast and if you're in my orbit and surrounded by me, that you are not one of those people. And the reason why I guarantee that is because, you are somebody different. You want to do things different in the sense that you don't want to have power over people, as we traditionally might see in corporations or in our own leadership team, but you want to have power with other people.
And in order to have power with other people instead of over them, it can feel really confusing as to what am I supposed to actually do ahead of time? Like, how do I become the Executive Ahead of Time that has power with other people, especially when we're not already in a position of influence and authority at our organization, which is also a quality that you might have.
So if you are somebody who has this desire to rise to the top of your organization, not having power over people, it's going to be a little bit confusing. How do you advocate for yourself? How do you put yourself out there? How do you have conversations in a very direct and powerful way in particular about your own professional development?
You have no problem advocating for your team or getting the resources that you need for your team. But when it comes to your own career, you sort of put that on a backseat because you want to make sure that it doesn't appear that you're just power hungry.
But one of the the terrible side effects of this is that sometimes you will get overlooked. You will not get noticed because you don't put yourself out there in that sort of bigger, bolder way to say: 'Hey, I'm ready to step up. I'm ready to take up a riskier, higher level leadership role.'
The examples today, one came from a 1:1 Client who's in my promotion accelerator program, and then another one came from a client who is in the Executive Ahead of Time program. So it doesn't really matter where you fall in the scale if you are putting yourself out there in a bigger, bolder way and then you have some challenging situations, it's going to bring up stuff for you.
So this is what happened. Let me tell you about the woman who is in Executive Ahead of Time program.
So I encouraged her to have a skip-level meeting with her boss's boss. And she did.
And she had been thinking about this for a while. And she actually said in our Voxer chat support group that: 'I have literally been thinking about scheduling this meeting for a while, but never did it. And I didn't know what we were supposed to talk about,' but she did it.
So she scheduled the meeting. It was a huge success. First of all, her SVP said 'yes' right away. And she scheduled the meeting. She talked to her SVP. Her SVP was just very open and honest with her. He said he could see her doing really big things at the organization and he wanted to support her. He said that he didn't see a particular role for her, but then while they were having this conversation, he thought of a big project that he could actually put her in charge of that would give her more exposure to the leadership team.
So essentially, she got exactly what she wanted and she was thrilled. She was like: 'Oh, my gosh, that conversation could not have gone better.'
Now, here is when it goes awry.
She showed up to our group coaching call, and the first thing out of her mouth is that she got thrown under the bus. This is what she said. She said: 'Well, it was good for a while. And then I got thrown under the bus.'
And I was like: 'What?'
And she said that her SVP actually called her out at a meeting and said that he had a conversation with her recently and she brought up some really great ideas. And so, of course, she instantly felt terrified because now her peers are in the room, her boss is in the room, she's been put on the spot, she feels nervous. She's not a power hungry person. She has this desire to have power with other people. She doesn't want to be seen as a power hungry person. So her boss puts her on the spot. And he essentially says something really great about her. But she feels so uncomfortable with that, that she feels very rightly so, like this is normal, that we feel this way, we feel very scared in that moment. And she just wants to hide under her desk and she feels like she totally just got thrown under the bus.
And so now she has a choice. She can never speak to SVP again. Or she can figure out a way to regain her power and to have those bold conversations now with her boss and her peers so that she feels like she's in a place of integrity and that she did, in fact, make a great decision by going to her SVP and having this conversation.
Now, let me also throw in there that her boss didn't feel like she went behind his back because she very openly and very smartly, so I just want to also point this out, had a conversation with her boss first saying: 'I'm going to speak with the SVP. Is that OK with you?' So I also want to point that out so that you don't listen to this recording and think to yourself that: 'Oh, well, maybe that was going on. Maybe she shouldn't have gone behind his back.' That's not the case. That's not what happened here. She was very upfront, very open and very honest with everybody about what she was doing.
So that was not the case. But what happens is so we do something really great and then we feel bad about it. We apologize for it. We backtrack. We lose momentum because we're so afraid.
Now, I want to point out that as a woman or a male minority leader, there is a reason that you are afraid. And that number one reason is because you are different. You don't look like the rest of the room.
And so up until this point in your career, you have had success by fitting in. And that works. That really, really works up until about the middle management level.
That is actually the reason that you've had success, because you do fit in, because you are part of the culture and you've shown them that you can get along well with others.
That is actually part of the job description up until middle management, that you can get along well with others. But unfortunately, that attitude, that mindset doesn't scale to the c-suite. In order to scale to the c-suite, you have to make bolder, more powerful moves.
Now, unfortunately, this is part of the reason that we don't have more diversity. And I say only part of the reason, because I definitely think that it is the responsibility of the organizations and the existing leadership team to give opportunities to people who don't look like the rest of the room.
But when you think about being in the seat of the person that doesn't look like the rest of the room, if we don't actually have the tools to step into our power, it kind of feels like jumping off a cliff without a parachute. It feels really scary. And like I said, rightfully so.
So that's an example of how she deflected her power, because as soon as she had something great happen, she said: 'I got thrown under a bus.'
And then I'll tell her I'll tell you in a minute what we did next. But I want to also share with you just another example in the exact same week.
So I have my 1:1 coaching client who's amazing. And I encouraged her to schedule a 15 minute conversation with the CEO. And I talk about these 15-Minute Ally Meetings. This is part of why the other woman scheduled the 15 minute meeting with her SVP. These are 15-Minute Ally Meetings. And so she scheduled this meeting with her CEO. It couldn't have gone better. He was so excited that she scheduled it with him. He wanted to connect with her. He loves getting her opinion. He scheduled another meeting and another meeting. And these meetings are really, really going great.
So the first thing out of her mouth, she said: 'I had another meeting with my CEO and I'm drowning. This is the worst thing ever.'
This is what she said. And I was like: 'Really? Because it sounds like you're getting exactly what you wanted.'
Because she sees her colleagues having meetings regularly with the CEO, but she doesn't have meetings regularly. So it's actually what she wanted. But her reaction is now I feel like I'm drowning. And it's the exact same thing. Because now that she has had a meeting with the CEO, he's talking about her. If he's not mentioning her name directly, he's talking about her ideas. And so she feels embarrassed. She feels like she wants to crawl under the table. Am I actually worthy? These are the subconscious things that she's telling herself. But then on the outside, she's just saying: 'Oh, my gosh. Oh, this is so, so hard.'
And then she said it again the next week when we coached again. She said: 'This is just really, really hard. It's hard to have these meetings with him.'
And so I just want you to know that all of that means is that you're stepping into your power. And when we start to step into our power, it can feel uncomfortable. It can feel very life threatening. And rightfully so. Like that's the wiring in our brain from way back when that we would get ostracized. And I say way back when, but also sometimes in our modern times, like in what's actually happened in our world in 2020. It can feel very life threatening. And that's why we have to come back to our power.
And so I told both of these clients: 'Look. You made a choice to have these conversations and they went really well. Everything that happens after that point was going to happen anyway, if and when you stepped into your position of power. And so the work at that point is to just understand that you are a powerful person.'
In Gay Hendricks book The Big Leap, he talks about whenever we get to these points, what he calls the upper limit, whenever we start to be confronted with our real power, our true place in the world, what we're actually meant to accomplish, we sabotage it.
And there's like example after example of lottery winners who go on drug sprees afterwards, lose all their money, lose their relationships. This is common behavior. And I highly recommend reading the book. He's the expert in this upper limit problem. What I would like to talk about today is that when we start to see our power, we instantly want to pull back and play it safe again. It's a little bit too scary. It can feel very uncomfortable.
And now I'm going to go into some of my solution. Why do we actually start to do about this? Because both of these women, like as an outsider listening to my story, are you like: 'Heck yeah, you earned that.'
So we need these women to keep moving forward. We don't want them to go backwards. So they have to start to learn how to lean in to these difficult, uncomfortable conversations.
And thankfully for each of them, they have a coach. They have somebody who's guiding them. If you don't have a coach during this situation, start to notice: 'Am I pulling back? Is it weird that I'm feel uncomfortable now that I've actually been given exactly what I wanted? I've actually been promoted to senior vice president and now I feel like crap all the time?'
So if that's the case, it's not because you're not a brilliant senior vice president. It's just because you have hit that power and you have this desire to start deflecting that power and to play it safe.
So the first solution I want to offer you is to get an outside perspective. So a coach, even a friend, a colleague. You need to have mentors. You need to have these people around you. And you'll notice that most executives have their own personal board of directors. I talk about getting a personal board of directors and I'll link to that previous episode in the show notes as well. But most executives already have a personal board of directors, and that is simply because it is par for the course that as we continue to step into higher level and more and more power than we have arrows being thrown at us, but here's the other thing that I want to offer you, you can handle it.
You can do this. It is worth it to have you in a higher level executive position. You have chosen this path and you know it. If you ask yourself deep down, do I want to stay where I am or do I want to grow and make it into that next level of leadership? The answer, especially if you're listening to this podcast, is always growth. I want to grow and I want to learn.
Now, the next tool that I want to offer you is along that same lines of growth. So I want you to start thinking about growth as one of your five core values.
So you should have a sense of what your core values are. And if you if you aren't sure, then you can actually download a worksheet that I have put together at www.StacyMayer.com/Values, where I'll lead you through an exercise to identify your five core values.
So this is an essential tool that I recommend to all of my leaders so that they can really understand their own unique leadership style and what drives them as a leader. So you have your five core values, and I would like to encourage you to make one of them be growth. And the reason why I say this is because if we understand that growth is a core value, then it makes it a heck of a lot easier to do it.
Because growing is not easy. I mean, there was a whole television show in the 80s called Growing Pains. It's a term that we've heard before. Growing pains. It's painful, inherently, to grow. And it's challenging. But if we embrace it as one of our core values, it makes it more like a goal. Our goal is to grow. And it helps us put it in perspective why it feels so challenging in that moment.
So let's say that you don't feel like growth is one of your core values. So I don't want everybody to feel like: 'Oh, you have to listen to Stacy and make this up and I'm just going to put growth and my core values.' But I would like to question that growth is not one of your core values. Because many people, especially if you're listening to this podcast, you have a desire to grow. You're looking to advance your career. You want to make a bigger impact. It means that you value goals. You value striving for something more. You value challenge, you value learning, you value achievement. So all of these are similar to growth, but growth is such a really wonderful, succinct word and it just simplifies the entire process. So there's really no question.
So let's say that your core value is growth and you recognize that in yourself and you do something, you feel very positive. So you have a coaching conversation with me or you listen to this podcast and you say to yourself: 'Ok. I'm going to schedule a meeting, skip level meeting, with my SVP.'.
And so that's what I'm going to do. And you feel very positive. It feels strong, you feel powerful, you do the meeting, the meeting goes really well. And then, that little bit inside your brain that says: 'Who do you think you are? Who do you think you are to just go speak to your SVP and have these big, powerful conversations? Who do you think you are to step into your power in this way?'
So that little voice that we all have inside our head. It's imposter syndrome, insecurity, whatever you want to call it. But it's there, right? Let's just say it. It's there. It's there for everybody. The only difference and this is kind of sounds like a cliche, but it's very true. The only difference between successful people and not successful people is that they still have the voice inside their head, but they take action anyway. They move forward. They have growth anyway. And so now I'm showing you how you can use this principle of having growth as one of your core values to allow yourself to continue to make progress in your career, to move forward.
So you have the conversation. It goes really great. Then you have the little voice, just like everybody else inside your head, that says: 'What are you doing? Who are you?'
And and then you remind yourself: 'It's not supposed to be easy. Growth is not supposed to be easy. I can do hard things. This is what I do. This is what I signed up for, is to do challenging things.'
And so then it allows you to start to work with and manage your emotions around the growth vs. hiding under your desk.
So that is why you probably feel like doing when you feel power. And instead, I want to encourage you to embrace that it feels a little bit uncomfortable, it feels a little bit awkward, and it does get easier.
So I'm just going to share with you a story here in closing in terms of something that made me feel uncomfortable just last week.
So I was actually out with my son, who is only four years old and already rides a pedal bicycle because he is very energetic and enthusiastic about it. And so we got him a bicycle and he's doing great. And he was riding down a hill and he loved it. He kept walking his bike up the hill and then riding down and walking his bike up the hill and riding down. And the first time he did it, I was so afraid. I was so uncomfortable. I was like: 'Slow down, make sure you're braking.' I was just afraid for him.
And then the second time I was like: 'Slow down. I hope you're OK.'
And then the third time I did it, I was like: 'Just make sure you have your hand on the brake.'
And then the fourth time he did it, I didn't say anything. I felt calmer. And I literally felt it in my body. I felt myself calming down throughout this process and trusting the process that he was going through more and more and that he would, in fact, be OK.
And this is the same kind of thing that you need to do for yourself, is just start to trust the process. And if we can embrace growth and if we can embrace that this idea of power feels a bit uncomfortable and that our natural inclination is to deflect it, if we can just say: 'Oh, I wonder what it would be to actually start to embrace my power? To have those conversations that I've been wanting to have? To put myself out there in a bigger, bolder way? To really go for that c-suite position someday? To do what's necessary today to set myself up for success in the future?'
It's going to help you feel a heck of a lot more confident once you actually get there, I guarantee. And it does, in fact, get easier.
So I just want you to know that your time is now that you are an amazing, amazing leader at your organization and that your organization needs you and your unique leadership style, your unique set of skills, at a higher leadership level. The other people at your organization need you at a higher level at your organization, and I am so grateful to be giving you the tools to get there.
Thank you so much for listening and I'll see you next week.
About Your Host
Hi! I'm Stacy Mayer, a Certified Executive Coach and Promotion Strategist on a mission to bring more diversity to the leadership table by getting 1000 underrepresented corporate managers promoted into senior executive positions each year worldwide.
I help undervalued executives scale to the C-Suite using repositioning strategies that build your confidence and visibility, so you can earn the recognition and support you need from key stakeholders while embodying your unique leadership style.
My podcast “Women Changing Leadership with Stacy Mayer” tackles topics like executive communication, getting more respect in the workplace from challenging bosses and team members, and avoiding the common mistakes that sabotage career advancement.