I was recently listening to one of my mentors talk about why she applied for her first managerial position. She assumed that someone was already being groomed for the position and there were other candidates in the pool with more background, so she didn’t plan to throw her name in the ring. It wasn't until she was encouraged by a friend, who saw her strengths, and told her:
"Hey, are you thinking of applying for that Assistant Department Manager role? I think you'd be really good at it!"
Most decisions we make in life are easy. The outcomes are predictable. The decisions with unknown outcomes, though…these make us second guess our abilities. These are the decisions that are almost impossible to make alone. You need someone in your corner, someone who believes in you and lets you know it!
In 2016 there was an open manager position in my group that was announced while I was on a family vacation. I came back to an email in my inbox from a colleague that read:
"I hope you reach out to them with interest for the position. You would make an excellent leader for our group, and I strongly trust you with the responsibilities involved"
Would I have had the same level of confidence going into the interview process without that email? Definitely not. I can guarantee, though, that my career path would look very different. Like my mentor, I had reservations about my qualifications. I needed the external push, that validation of my abilities, to give me the confidence in myself to go after the opportunity.
I ask two things of you today:
Take a moment and think about where you are in your career or life. Try to think of a point in time when you had to make a decision to step up, and you did so with confidence because someone else believed in you. Identify that person, or those people, and send them a thank you and let them know what that support led to!
Take a moment to think of those people around you. The ones you work with, work for, or who report to you. Who in the group is that future leader? The one that may be only an "I believe in you” away from taking the next step in their career or in life. BE THAT PERSON WHO BELIEVES! That person they will reflect on 10 years from now and say, "Thank you, if it wasn't for your belief in me, I wouldn't be where I am today"!
Without those words said to both my mentor and to me -- the belief that we had the potential to go after an opportunity -- she would probably not be my mentor and friend today, and I might not have the opportunity to have the impact I have today. Because behind EVERY leader is someone who believed in them.
Note: All of the opinions expressed in this article are my own, and are not a reflection of the viewpoint of my employer.