The Korn Ferry Institute just released a wonderful report, called “Women CEOs Speak,” where they surveyed 57 women CEOs about their paths to leadership. One finding that struck me was:
Of the 57 female CEOs interviewed, more than 50% gave no thought to being a CEO until someone explicitly told them they had it in them!
While reviewing this latest research, Korn Ferry Chairman, Jane Stevenson, said this about potential:
“If you see something, say something.”
In the Signature Program, we talk about the “Power of One Word.” If one word can make a difference, think how powerful it can be to point out someone’s potential. That is why our Sponsorship thought for this week is the letter “A”, which stands for:
Affirm her potential as a leader.
Part of the job of a Sponsor is to encourage and build up your Sponsorees. Women, in particular, beat themselves up when they have setbacks. You should remind her that you have chosen to sponsor her for her excellent performance and potential for leadership. Encourage and guide her on how to take credit for her contributions and achievements. Then give her honest and clear feedback in private to help her continue to improve.
Conversations about potential do not need to be part of a formal review process. In fact, there is more impact if it is done in the moment. Here are three simple phrases you might use:**
- “I see ____________ in you.”
- “You are always good at ___________________.”
- “Let me share what I see is possible for you.”
It should be as simple as telling them what you are thinking. Perhaps you see their skillfulness, strategic thinking, or ability to listen or tell a story. Share this with them.
How many times have you been in a situation that you were uncertain you could muscle through? Have you ever been provided an opportunity that you weren’t sure you were ready for? It often takes just one person affirming your potential to make the difference. Those words help us hold our heads higher and give us more confidence!
So, go make a difference for those around you and on your team. If you see some potential, affirm it.
As always, we would love to hear your stories about how you have made a difference or how someone has made a difference as a sponsor for you!
**Taken from Signature Leaders' Faculty Member, Kristi Hedges’, book “The Inspiration Code”.