Last week I was working with a client who was recapping a conversation she had with her boss about how the initiative she was heading up was going. She asked her boss to help her with a particular decision – to send or not send out yet another survey.
The boss told her she didn’t think it was necessary and asked why she thought she should. My client, Jane, thought she needed more information to present to the leadership team – more data, more proof – to support what she wanted to do. She was pretty invested in that belief:
Me: Why do you think you need more information than you already have?
Jane: I want to be prepared. I want to make sure I have everything I need in case they ask for more information.
Me: Didn’t the leadership team ask you to head this initiative?
Me: So, you’re gathering more evidence to prove to the leadership team that the decision they already made is a good one?
Jane: Um, well, I guess.
Me: Is this really about being prepared? Why is this important for you?
Jane: I want to look credible.
Me: Jane, you got the go-ahead and have their blessing to roll with it. You’re already credible.
I run into this situation over and over again with the leaders I coach – particularly those who are in emerging leader positions. They continue to look outside themselves for evidence to support their expertise and expend an enormous amount of time and resources doing it.
I encourage them to stop and review their own knowledge and experience. They typically realize that nothing more is needed.
Yet, owning their expertise continues to be a challenge for them.
I can’t tell you how many times over the last 24 years of being a business owner, I’ve thought I needed to get this certification or that training because then I’d have what I needed.
Those times usually occurred when I was making decisions from a place of fear or lack.
Can you relate?
So, why do we do this?
Part of the reason is a lack of confidence in our own abilities. So many leaders are used to being the one to execute, that when their position changes and their role now requires decision-making and vision more than execution, they struggle.
Receiving kudos for a job well done for an executor is nirvana. That’s one big way they can rate their value to the organization and can measure that easily.
Expertise is more difficult to measure, especially if there are no letters after your name like PhD or some certification designation if that is how you choose to measure it.
It boils down to taking yourself out of the autopilot mode and checking in with yourself. Ask yourself the key questions that will deliver the needed answers.
No one else has the history and experiences that you have.
No one else has the perspective that you have.
No one else sees through the lens that you have.
Trust yourself that you know what to do.
Trust yourself that if you need additional information, you know how to find it.
Trust that you have the expertise.
Trust – and own it.