Perspective of the Day — Instill Confidence, Avoid Catastrophe

WHAT YOU FEEL: you are making progress but there are so many risks to the business and you struggle with how this comes through in your communication

PERSPECTIVE: As the leader, you set the tone. Every minute you are being watched by customers, prospects, employees, investors, advisors and the community at large. You have to keep the organization moving forward confidently as if it is not “if” but “when” you succeed. To do this, when you communicate, do a couple of key things:

Instill confidence. Despite the challenges of your organization, always communicate with confidence. How often do you walk out of a meeting and say to yourself “if they knew how screwed up we were.” It is fine to have those conversations with yourself, but not out loud. Resist the temptation to communicate in any way that undermines the confidence of your team, customers or investors. Confidence is about how you deliver the message.

Never talk catastrophe. There will be times you feel that you are on the brink of failure, at your wit’s end, too burned out to go at it the next day or have no money. There will be times when you hit “the last straw” with a vendor, employee, investor or customer. Marathoners talk about “hitting the wall” at mile 20. Entrepreneurs hit the wall at mile 1,2,3,4,5,6,7…. .

Despite this, your communication can never include words like disaster, catastrophe, quit, falling apart and the other similar words that run through your mind. To you, these may only be expressions of your current emotion and some air coming out of your balloon. To others, when they hear these words in any context, it caused them to question what they are doing. It’s not uncommon in a moment of frustration to say “I want to run away and sit on a beach” or “we’re not going to make it.” These may be true emotions. They may persist or they may be fleeting. In either case, you have to avoid this “catastrophe” language. Whatever you do, and as hard as it is, eliminate these words from your public vocabulary, and share them only with your bottle of bourbon and hope that the bottle doesn’t talk.

Avoid Cockiness. It is essential that you are confident about your business. That being said, when that confidence shifts to cockiness, you run a great risk. There are times people do business with you because of your business value. There are other times they do business with you because they like you. When you demonstrate cockiness, you make customers and employees think to themselves, “do I want to do work with them?”

There are many communication styles. However, if you fail to instill confidence, or shake the will of your people with talk of catastrophe, or demonstrate a cockiness that makes them want to get away, you will leave a lasting negative impact that does not go away the day after.

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