Many High Performers Make This Mistake — Do You?


You're dedicated, capable and hard-working. But you might be falling victim to a stumbling block that keeps others from seeing your full potential as a leader.  

What is this stumbling block? You're working so hard and you're so focused on getting things done that you don’t pay attention to the way you come across to others.

As an executive coach, I've seen this happen to too many high performers. They're driving for results and making things happen. In fact, part of what may be at play is them overusing the actual strengths that help them get results. As a result, they get passed over for opportunities for which they are otherwise qualified.

Are you wondering if this might be an issue for you? This week, notice whether you engage in any of the behaviors on this list that might make people wonder if you’re really on top of things:

  • Failing to stick to the start and end times for your meetings (i.e., chronically running late).

  • Constantly reacting; rarely planning or anticipating.

  • Pulling out your laptop or device during meetings to do unrelated work.

  • Interrupting others because you already “know” what they are going to say.

  • Walking fast.

  • Talking fast.

  • Having a default answer like this when others ask how you are: "I'm soooo busy!"

  • Sighing into your words.

  • Showing frustration, sometimes by using a harsh or loud tone.

  • Fidgeting (i.e., looking like you’re ready to leave the room)

What Messages Are You Sending?

So why is any of this important? As a leader, your success doesn’t just depend on what you can do. It also hinges on how you do it, your executive presence. You can think of executive presence as all the messages that you're constantly sending, both deliberate and unintentional, to your colleagues about who you are as a leader.

Think about some of the messages the above behaviors might be sending:

  • Walking and talking fast makes you look overwhelmed, like you have to do everything quickly or you can’t fit it all in.

  • Fidgeting could make others at a meeting think that you're bored by what they're saying.

  • Using a harsh tone conveys a lack of respect and reactivity that might cause others to avoid you or keep bad news from you.

  • Working on unrelated tasks during a meeting shows colleagues that you don't manage your time well or respect their time.

"That's not who I am!" you might be protesting to yourself. But these are the stories that others may tell after observing you.

How to Go From Overwhelmed to Confident

Becoming aware of these behaviors — and their effect on others — is the first step in making changes that will strengthen your leadership. The next step is addressing the stress that's driving these behaviors. Here are a few past blog articles that can help:

I also recommend the The WOW! Lite Program℠, which contains two key modules from the complete WOW! Women On the Way to Peak Performance Program℠.

10 Years of Purpose, Presence and Power

This summer marks the 10th anniversary of Newberry Executive Solutions. In that time, we've helped countless leaders get raises, get promotions and amplify their impact through our products and services. To say thank you for your ongoing support, I'm sharing a special series of blog posts with some of the most powerful insights I've gained through 10 years of executive coaching (and 16 years in business before that). This week is Part 4 — stay tuned for more! You can also catch up on past posts from the series below:

Part 1: Build a confident executive presence

Part 2: What your boss won't tell you (but you need to know)

Part 3: How to communicate like a strategic leader