I am very fortunate to have enjoyed a career that has taken me through various sales positions, marketing consultancy, numerous international marketing leadership roles in Europe and Australasia and now today as a business facilitator and leadership coach. Whilst to a large degree we make our own luck, some things such as a simple conversation at the right time can have a material impact on our lives.
For me, one such occasion was in 1988 when I was embarking on a business development role with a creative consultancy in London. Boom time indeed, but it is safe to say that at that stage I was a little green around the ears and not knocking down walls with my sales performance. My then boss (who remains a friend to this day) provided me with some harsh but fair feedback. Most of what she said is long forgotten, except for these words; ‘Jim, I believe in you’.
The impact of those words was profound. My boss had successfully made me feel valued and important, whilst at the same time giving me some very necessary performance feedback. The key, was the sense that whilst I wasn’t using the tools of my trade as well as I could have, I felt believed in as a person. It felt to me that improvement and change in my sales performance were only marginal things and entirely possible to achieve. It also made me believe in her.
Most of us are very familiar by now with Simon Sinek’s golden circles of What, How and Why. With the Why representing our belief and purpose. As Simon Sinek says; ‘People buy why you do what you do, not what you do’.
This is a huge area for leaders who need to articulate vision, manage constant change, connect with staff and customers, differentiate their brand and deliver great results. In much of my coaching and facilitation with a wide range of businesses and leaders, I’ll often push hard at the need for leaders to use the words ‘I believe’ especially when dealing with change. Whether that’s I believe in a plan, a strategy or a person, it’s a powerful set of words that creates connection, authenticity and vision.
Belief is also a major component of successful change, organisationally and individually. Research conducted by Chris Mason, Founder of Mindshop, revealed that 70% of change initiatives fail, with the 3 factors of successful change and subfactors being;
1. Readiness for Change (Leadership Support, Need for Change, What’s in it for Me, Process, Confidence)
2. Capability for Change (Individual and Organisation)
3. Belief in that Change (Significant others, Perceived Difficulty and Attitude).
The thing about belief is that it is infectious with a tipping point reached when the early adopters buy in. When we believe in something that others believe in too, it’s powerful and lasting.
So think about how and when you’ll use those words ‘I believe'. You’ll be amazed at the impact they can have for the organisation and for the individual.
Jim Parry is the Owner and Principal Advisor of So-Brand.