Why to Be Overconfident (every now and then)

The outdoor wedding on the water was beautiful, the bar was open and the line for the fanciest version of a Port-o-Pot I’ve ever seen was long–which is why so many heard the screams of the little boy who couldn’t escape from the potty on wheels.

His cries grew more frantic as his dad and others tried to calm him down. “Lucas, it’s going to be okay… just turn the knob…. please stop crying….” Lucas stayed stuck. There was a key, but it was on the inside. It was starting to feel like one of those stories that would be really funny when Luke is 22, but tonight, not so much.

Never having met the kid, I knew he wouldn’t recognize my voice. I walked over to the door. “Hi Lucas, this is Karin, and I’m the potty expert. I know all about these things. All you have to do is turn the knob to the right.” (His dad, whispers to me, “Actually, I think it’s to the left.”) “Oh, wait, I was thinking about the girl’s potty, sorry about that. Sometimes I can be so silly. Just turn it to the left.”

Click. Out comes Lucas.

Confidence begets confidence.

When someone is really struggling, what they often need most is confident scaffolding.

Clearly, I’m not the potty expert (although, now I don’t think I’m ever going to lose that title with my large gaggle of cousins).

Every now and then what employees need most is to feel confident, to feel safe, and to see a clear path forward.

Sometimes the best answer isn’t “Let’s brainstorm here” or “What do you think?”– all great approaches which I advocate for much of the time.

Every now and then the best leadership solution is a simple. “I’ve got you. You’re in good hands. Try this. You’re going to be just fine.”

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

5 Comments

  1. What a wonderful message Karin. You helped me choose my own confidence at an important juncture.

    Your words are also a great reminder that sometimes the person who’s emotionally involved is NOT the best advisor–confirming a family decision I just went through. It also reminds me that as leaders we need to be aware of the big picture so that we can be more likely to choose the most meaningful process or answer.

    Thank you!

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