Boss or Imposter? 5 Ways to Take Charge as a Leader

Take Charge as a Leader

Every morning before monthly Vistage Group meetings I prepare for the day—and wait for my successful and esteemed CEO members to walk through the door to begin our work.  And yes, that’s what happens, those CEOs show up as usual, but even more amazing is the fact that actual human beings walk through the door!

Take Charge as a LeaderThey are human beings with imperfections, fear, doubt, and problems in addition to their success, good health and happiness.

My first day as CEO of a successful software company had an interesting start.  I had interviewed with the founders, investors and staff. My previous job had prepared me for this position.  I was confident, qualified and ready to go.   And then I got into the elevator…

As the elevator door closed, a wave of doubt and fear washed over me.  I was alone in the elevator with a sudden sense of dread.  “Can I do this job?  Do I really know what I am doing? I hope I don’t screw it up and get fired!”

But then the elevator door opened. I took a deep breath, and walked through the front door.  My fear disappeared and we were off on a great journey. It was ultimately a challenging, rewarding and fun job and we successfully sold the company five years later.

Here are five ways to feel less like an imposter, and more of a leader taking charge in your business:

  1. Remember that every leader has self-doubt. At least the good ones do. People who seek self-improvement question their own abilities in order to make themselves better. Self-doubt is a consistent theme with my CEO members, who are committed to improving themselves and their businesses. Confidence and self-doubt are really two sides of the same coin.
  2. Step out of the elevator. Control the doubt. Take control. This applies to routine execution or strategic planning. You are the leader. Your employees are watching. They aren’t as concerned that you will make a mistake as you are, and they will forgive you if you do. But they want you lead and take action.
  3. Find someone who knows more than you and never stop learning. In my first software company I found one of the really smart guys and asked him to teach me what he thought I should know. We met regularly on a schedule, and he was also my “go to” guy when something new to me popped up. The more I learned, the more inquisitive I became, and the more I wanted to know. Ultimately, my personal growth was great, I was respected by the “techies,” and I was able to participate in meaningful discussions for the future of the company.
  4. Find a bigger challenge. If you get too comfortable, that’s a warning sign. One of my Vistage members told me recently “If everything is going well, I get bored.” This CEO is focused on building the brand, expanding their markets, and growing and developing her team to become top players.
  5. You are not alone. Work with your teams. Learn from your peers. As a Vistage Chair, I have been a witness to magic happening every month. A common theme when a problem comes up is. “I thought I was the only one…”  Take advantage of your peers and get all the help you can get. Leverage their experience as well as your own.

Category: Leadership

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Michael Malone About the Author: Michael Malone

Michael Malone has spent more than 41 years in the Marine Corps and the Marine Corps Reserve. He has been a CEO and senior executive in several technology companies, and has been a Vistage Chair since 2005. You can learn more about becoming …

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