Recently I stumbled across a provocative article on how to sound like you are on top of your game, even when you may not be. These 5 tips are not rocket science yet are amazingly effective. I have personally watched many executives over the years use one or more of these techniques when they were trying to raise capital for a new round of financing or when they were attempting to lead through influence in a new position. This is the infamous “fake it til you make it” phenomena. Now, please don’t misunderstand – if we are not competent, don’t have the raw horsepower, or even the desire to excel in our jobs, this approach is not relevant. What I am suggesting is that each of us, at one time or another, may feel we have been thrown into the deep end of the pool. What can we do so we at least appear (or sound) like we get it and know what to do? A few tips from this article which I thought were spot-on:
1. Always speak in the affirmative. When your boss or perhaps even your challenger in a group setting asks “What are you going to do?” or “How are you going to overcome this situation?” – always answer with some combination of “We will figure it out”, or “We will get the job done”. You may have no idea exactly how or what you are going to do..and yet, you will figure it out and solicit support and help to do so. That is the bottom line.
2. Keep quiet. When you don’t know what to say or have anything relevant to contribute – just keep your mouth closed. When you try to bluster your way, it will always backfire. Less is always more when you are in uncharted waters.
3. Be prepared. This is all about doing your homework. Study the market, the business issue, your competition, etc. before key meetings. Come prepared with intelligent questions which show curiosity and thoughtfulness about the business. Several times in my experience I hadn’t a clue what to do when I came into a new role; yet, honestly, I was not scared to ask my predecessor, key team members, or other executives what they would do if they were in my shoes. Ironically, it shows a sense of confidence by showing vulnerability by asking for help.
4. Act like a duck. This is the “duck on water” metaphor. Sure, we may be frantically paddling under the surface – but we are calm, cool and collected by appearance. The quickest way to show inadequacy is to appear flustered, out of breath, or freaked out by a situation. This reeks of being over your head or meeting up with the Peter Principle. Breathe. Stay centered and aligned. You will be perceived as being on top of it and under control.
5. Keep it light and laugh often. Most of our business dealings are not an issue between life and death, yet we internalize them as if they were. Keep it in perspective. Laugh at yourself and your mistakes; after all, we all make them. Your team will embrace you due to your openness, transparency, and ability to not take yourself so seriously. When that happens, the power of the team will be unleashed; and frankly, with a great team – mountains amazingly become mole hills.
What tips do you have to share?