“It was just what I needed,” she told me.
She wasn’t talking about a scolding. She was talking about being called into the sales manager’s office where her work was soundly praised.
She was an account executive with an aviation parts manufacturer. At the time she confesses how fearful she was. “You’re called into the office. For me it was a text – ‘Drop by my office when you get in today. Thanks.’ My mind went into a million different directions trying to think, ‘What have I done wrong?'”
She walked into the office where the manager asked her to have a seat, directly in front of his desk. He didn’t close the door so she thought, “Good sign, maybe.”
He opened a notebook where she noticed a few scribbled notes in his own writing, but she was too nervous to try to read it upside down.
He then spent a couple of minutes extolling the contributions she’d made over the last quarter. And it wasn’t just performance stuff. It was broader and deeper than that. He talked about how he valued everybody and he praised the entire team. Today, he wanted to make sure she understood the value of her contributions to the team and the company.
She was embarrassed. This hadn’t happened to her before. Not at this level. Not anything this serious. This wasn’t a pat on the back. It was deeply thoughtful, well thought out and quite purposeful. When he was finished praising her she thanked him. They both stood, shook hands and he said, “Marcy, I trust you. I’m devoted to your success.” She believed him. And she trusted him, too.
It all lasted less than 8 minutes. Eight minutes!
She floated on a cushion of self-confidence as she exited his office. Later that day, during 2 sales calls she recalls having two of the best sales calls of her life. “My confidence was apparent to the client. You could feel it,” she said.
Success fosters success. But praise fuels confidence and without confidence, success is elusive.
Eight minutes. Eight intentional minutes. Marcy has no idea how to quantify what confidence may do for her sales performance, but she has high goals. Higher than she had before. She didn’t go in and alter the official forecast, but she did secretly create a new forecast. Her personal goals. They were now higher than the official numbers. I ask her why she did that. “Because I looked at the forecast numbers and thought, ‘That’s not nearly good enough.'”
Marcy expected more from herself than she ever had before. Some limiting beliefs and lack of confidence (she was no simp before, but she was now Hulk-like in confidence) had magically vanished over the span of just 8 minutes. Truth is, it didn’t take the full 8 minutes. Within the first few seconds, when she realized praise was the purpose of the meeting…her mind instantly made a shift into a new gear she didn’t even know she had.
We talk about her. What she says to herself. The power of others expressing belief in us. The power of praise. The need to find the inner fuel necessary when external fuel is lacking. The need to summon up resources on command when she’s alone in the field and the sales call doesn’t go so well.
Mostly, we dwell on the magic of what happened and why. How our minds can change so quickly with some positive affirmation from people who matter – in this case, her boss. She’s young. I encourage her to learn a leadership lesson from it. To grow as a teammate. To focus on looking for things to praise in others, including clients. To show more deeply her appreciation for what others bring to the table. All things she admits weren’t so clear before but now are in 20/20 view.
Clarity is a great thing. So is confidence. Find ways to offer genuine, sincere praise and watch the confidence (and performance) soar.
Be well. Do good. Grow great!