From survival mode to confident leadership

publication date: Feb 5, 2018
author/source: Kathy Archer

If I asked you how you were doing today, would you utter something like:

  • Super busy!
  • Just trying not to drop anything.
  • Or the ever-famous line of so many women leaders…I'm surviving!

The implication of this tone is that we are struggling with the magnitude of our workload or our ability to handle the tasks. More than that we appear apologetic for it. Lastly, these quip responses share our inner fears; I'm not sure I am cut out for this. When we reply in this way, we likely lack the confidence to lead, and we are probably living in survival mode!

In survival mode, women are fearful of not seeming credible in the eyes of their employees, boss or the community. They worry they are not seen as worthy or capable. With those thoughts, your confidence fades even more. Instead of feeling poised and in control, you will feel on guard, ready to respond to missed deadlines, team drama or questions you may not know the answer too.

If you've experience survival mode, you know what you really want is to feel calm, confident, and composed. That level of assuredness is available to you! But first, let me put what you currently may be feeling, into a bit of context.

Women often move into leadership positions, from front line jobs, without adequate training and support to lead. Initially, your boss or the HR Director may have had a heightened focus on you. But within a few months, you were expected to be able to handle it all. As such, without ongoing training and support women often flounder through leadership, endlessly fearful of failing.

The way to grow your confidence is to continue to develop yourself. The reality is that in many organizations there are not the resources to continue the level training and support you desire. But fear not, there are other options.

  • First, you don't have to wait for someone else to offer training. If you want to get out of survival mode and increase your confidence, you need to lead yourself first. You must take responsibility for your development.
  • Next, decide what you want to learn. Get clear on what you want to learn or the skills you wish to grow.
  • Then, create a learning plan. Be intentional about what you need to learn and how you will do that.
  • Finally, take action on that plan.

The key is to get creative about how you will learn. It does not need to be week-long training or a university course. Consider bite-sized training that can fit into your already busy day. A series of YouTube videos, a webinar, book or self-paced online training can set you on the right path.

When you take responsibility for your growth and development, you increase your competencies. Expanding your skills base gives you more confidence to lead. Both competence and confidence help you to be credible in the eyes of others. As such, you feel better able to handle your responsibilities. Competence and confidence move you out of survival mode. Instead, you'll find yourself thriving in both your leadership and your life. 

Leadership Development Coach Kathy Archer teaches women leaders inner and outer tools to grow confidence so they can move from surviving to thriving in both leadership and life.

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