It’s not uncommon for an executive to compare themselves to the level of accomplishment, authority, or pay-grade of others around them, and self-discount accordingly. Yet despite what they may think, their value to the organization is constant.
One C-level executive put it well. She said, “When so-and-so is in the room, I tend to be more deferential and careful about what I say and how I say it.” Yet so-and-so, when asked for feedback about this executive, told me, “She needs to fill a room, develop her executive presence, cut to the chase, and express her ideas… She doesn’t recognize how senior she’s become.”
If self-marginalization is your pattern, here’s news you can use.
Certainly I advocate the need to read the room. That said, if you’re a leader, have experience and responsibility, and are intelligent, then it’s important to remember that the value of your ideas, contribution, or presence isn’t relative to others.
If you think it is, that’s an upgradable cognitive distortion on your part.
Let’s pretend that everyone is worth $100 at the beginning of each day. This self-editing around what to say and how to say it suggests that your value changes depending on who else is around. In this example, she’s suggesting that when so-and-so is around, she self-discounts her value to $50.
My coaching? “What do you need to do to hold your own value constant?” “If your value doesn’t change, depending on who else is around, how would that open up your options for asserting yourself?” And, “What would need to happen to stop comparing your value to others?”
Remember that your value is 100% at all times, no matter who else is around. When you do, your presence and contributions will be richer and more rewarding for yourself, and your organization.
The Recovering Leader
Since 2006, I've shared here tips and ideas from my executive coaching practice and lessons-learned from my own experience as a C-level executive at a Fortune 500 company. Click on the "subscribe" link, on the top right, to receive emails of new posts when I add them. For more information about my coaching services, visit my coaching firm's site. Also, follow me on twitter at: recoveringleadr