Helping With Confidence & Anxiety - Why Leaders Must Overcome Fear In Order To Progress
Being amazing in your day job doesn’t necessarily translate directly to being great in front of a journalist, a camera, behind a microphone, or on stage.
Yet there is an unspoken expectation from all that if you’re a senior leader, you should be adept when stepping up to represent your brand. But what if wearing your Brand Champion Hat fills you with dread?
You are not alone, I promise. Lacking confidence when it comes to being a storyteller, or even just being ‘on the record’ is actually very common. Glossophobia, the fear of public speaking, can be further aggravated by the ‘spotlight effect’ which is the phenomenon where you overestimate how much others notice aspects of your appearance or behaviour.
In December 2022 in the United Kingdom, there were 1,970 website searches per month on ‘Public Speaking Anxiety’. This number soared to 10,070 per month in the United States.
It is easy to understand that being passionate about a brand, or being amazing at your day job doesn’t necessarily mean that you have that same confidence about yourself…
In fact, in an interview with Inc.com, Sarah Wilson, founder of iquitsugar.com and author of the book First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety, says that high levels of anxiety are actually common among the entrepreneurially gifted.
"It comes down to brain function: their ability to think beyond straight data and to hyper-connect," Wilson says. People with high levels of anxiety "are able to think very broadly across multiple ideas all at once, which lends itself, obviously, to creating a business."
If this is you and you know what needs to be done, but find the idea just too daunting, it is helpful to understand why you’re feeling anxious. Acknowledging this is the first step to managing it appropriately. What’s the REAL reason it makes you anxious? Be honest with yourself!
If it’s largely due to being reluctant to promote your brand personally, then reminding yourself why championing your brand is so vital.
Firstly, there is a real responsibility for senior leaders to step into the spotlight and promote their brand. People buy from people. Marketing and sales messages shouldn’t just be there to be read. They need to be lived and breathed.
And secondly, if the founder or senior leader isn’t prepared to verbally deliver what others need to know, to share their passion and their vision for their brand, then why should anyone else care about it?
In a Harvard Business Review article, historian Nancy Koehn shared what the great leaders of our time knew about handling collective anxiety - and their own - during a crisis.
‘For Winston Churchill during the Second World War, it was about resilience and dedication to the fight against Nazi Germany — even in 1940 and 1941, when Britain stood virtually alone, the last bulwark against Adolf Hitler.
In a famous address to the House of Commons in June 1940, Churchill declared, “We shall go on to the end…, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
When you do these things, people think, “Okay, I’m scared, and my leader knows it, but we’re going to get through it anyway and we each have a role to play.”’
Nancy says it is about showing up and performing well without allowing the audience to sense your fears. Nelson Mandela famously said that, as an enemy of the state and a prisoner in apartheid-era South Africa, he “learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”
Often anxiety comes from just not knowing what to do or how to respond best to what’s expected. And that’s why training can be a complete game changer. Not just training on what to do, but also the hand-holding type of training that really looks at the ‘how’ to do it.
With my proven method, those who struggle with wearing their Brand Champion Hat, are equipped with the tools to help them feel confident, to be authentically themselves, and to engage and add value to their audience, without needing to sweat it out for hours on end.
Why, when asked to name a good spokesperson, does everyone remember Steve Jobs? I believe it was because he was authentically himself. There was no special formula. He was ultimately natural, happy to share his passion, his reason ‘why’. Confident that if he needed to walk around rather than be stuck behind a podium, he could. But above all. He was himself.
This can be you too, believe it or not. With the right belief system in place, you can increase your confidence, cancel out anxiety and champion away without fear!