We all know the archetype of the strong leader: the fierce, steely-eyed commander rallying their troops, shouting out orders and driving their team to “win” (the war, the game, the account, whatever). The commander is bulletproof, indestructible. He — and it’s usually an alpha-male “he” in our culturally normative imagination — is never wrong and never shows weakness. Women aren’t left out of the “show no weakness” norm; in a comment that resonates with many women I’ve spoken to in what I call “Organizational America,”* one female undergraduate at Duke University described the “effortless perfection” women were expected to live up to on that campus.
Congratulations, Coach! Your client made it! They got that promotion! (Or won that election, maybe?). And yet… now… they seem uncertain. “I was lucky,” they tell you. They were in the right place at the right time, and it might all come tumbling down tomorrow when people discover that they are really not all that and a bag of chips. Maybe not even the bag of chips.
Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on and grow my comfort level with a skill that is much, much harder to manifest than it should be, at least for me. The importance of not talking, of deliberately letting quiet hold sway, manifested in my life in unexpected ways that ultimately have helped me become a better coach. It took a couple of experiences, of life lessons, to bring home exactly how important it can be.
Topics: Coaching & Training