Let’s start by acknowledging that composure is easy when it comes as a byproduct of everything going according to plan; but where’s the skill in that?
Here, we are looking at composure when everything is not going according to plan. What if a source of composure under these conditions is the vision you hold for yourself?
For present purposes, a simplified explanation of the vision you hold for yourself is this: it is a combination of the understanding you have of who you really are and what you stand for when you are at your very best. To work with your vision as a source of composure requires holding yourself accountable to live up to that vision in what you say and what you do.
When you live from this model, consider that the measures of success might shift from demanding perfection of yourself to working with more realistic measures such as:
- Was I true to myself?
- Did I follow my principles?
- Did I behave in a manner that accurately expresses who I hold myself to be at my best?
Using these questions as measures of your success puts the focus on things you can control. It also allows you more room to maneuver and take risks, innovate, and exercise your creativity. In contrast, holding the idea of flawless execution as the measure of success typically will not leave room for risk-taking, innovation, and creativity, because these would put the guarantee of perfection at risk.
When you practice the behaviors you are learning in the CCO, you begin to free yourself up to really lean in to the questions above — and their evolving answers — in a manner that can be a galvanizing and empowering force in your career and beyond.
To review, the CCO behaviors you are experimenting with include:
- Listening with more curiosity and less judgment (Week 1).
- Being honest with yourself about how you show up (Week 2).
- Understanding that your mind might be hard at work short-circuiting reality (Week 3).
- Remaining convicted that you will do your best to be for-the-business, to work with integrity, and to practice “being executive” (Week 4).
- Embracing your own responsibility to contribute to and shape your context by making powerful, actionable requests (Week 5).
- Using skillful means — including conversational and process moves — to steer interactions in a productive direction (Weeks 6 and 7).
- Having the personal capacity to balance inquiry and advocacy and to engage in pursuit of more data and better decision-making (Week 7).
- Knowing who you are and what you stand for (this week).
- Working with feedback to be attuned to how your behaviors affect others (this week).
- Defining success reasonably and realistically so that you understand the job is not to be perfect like someone you might see on T.V., but rather to be someone who performs in alignment with who they are, what matters to them, and what is necessary and useful in their current workplace (this week).
To act with composure in the midst of the demands of leadership requires deep trust in your ability to dynamically steer, shape, and tune as needed and demanded by your context. The CCO has been preparing you for this.
Consider the following questions:
- What has meaning for you as a professional?
- How do you connect that meaning to the day-to-day work you perform?
- What fuels you at a deeper level?
- Why do you do what you do?
These questions come together in what we will refer to here as the vision you hold for yourself. The vision you hold for yourself can serve as your compass and your pathway to composure in the midst of chaos, ambiguity, and constant change and challenge.
In the Topics that follow, we explore this idea of vision further. You will be working through the steps to identify and refine the professional vision you hold for yourself and you’ll also learn how to work with your vision to enhance your presence, that intangible essence that enters the room with you when you arrive and the impression you impart upon people after you leave. Let’s start by hearing from CELA Leader, Matt Penarcyzk.
Essentials from Matt
- Be your authentic self.
- When you have the courage to be your authentic self, you show up in a way that creates credibility, trust, and approachability; your principles and values will show through.
- Matt shares a powerful mantra that he uses daily on his commute to work: “Have the courage to be your authentic self.”
Matt’s story is about the connection between leadership and being true to yourself. He describes a pivotal moment in his career when he received feedback that prompted him to recognize that the way he thought he needed to show up as a professional — the vision he had for himself — didn’t accurately represent who he really was. By bringing more of his authentic self into his professional identity, Matt experienced greater ability to create an environment of trust and approachability, and in doing so he increased his effectiveness as a leader.*
*Some of you may have encountered the concept we refer to here as “vision” referred to as “personal brand” in other sources. There is indeed overlap here. As you read, please use these terms interchangeably or pick the one that resonates with you most. Because the notion of “brand” is often used in a manner that over-indexes on selling yourself and on the extrinsic benefits of doing so, I lean towards using “vision” to describe what you are learning about in this Lesson. While the external benefits of working with vision or brand are certainly real and relevant, these benefits are a byproduct of the focus in the CCO. What I find more interesting is the prospect of working with vision to bring more of who you are to what you do in a way that lights your fire, fuels your greatest potential, and sustains performance at the highest levels.