Hidden Sources of Leadership Anxiety

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Hidden Sources of Leadership Anxiety

Leadership anxiety is increasingly abundant and women leaders are more susceptible than men. Some of the causes of management worries are apparent, like layoffs and workplace conflicts. Other potent causes of leadership anxiety are hidden, including those discussed in this article. Although most people are unaware of the negative effects of dysfunctional parental beliefs and behaviors on leadership success and confidence, they are one of the most common causes of leadership fears and unease. Self-awareness, confidence building and other proven leadership tools described in this Women’s Leadership Confidence series are proven ways to prevent and alleviate women’s leadership anxiety.

Do You Cart Your Parents’ Beliefs, Behaviors or Other Baggage to Work Every Day?

Most young children notice and mimic their parents’ facial expressions, gestures, and other behaviors. As little ones, we’re a bit like a shriveled, dry sponge that eagerly devours moisture in a bucket of water and then changes shape. For better or worse, parental input creates dramatic expansion in our rapidly growing brains.

Before we become mobile creatures enthusiastically exploring a world offering a vast array of choices, we’re also similar to caged birds that can only observe their environment within a confined space unless someone transports their cage to a different area. Since what is in our line of sight is what we think exists, most young children, like a caged canary, experience life and observe parental actions without classifying behaviors into categories like good, bad, helpful, unhelpful, effective and inappropriate.

When we’re very young, our developing brains aren’t set up to examine our parents’ beliefs. We know our parents are large, powerful creatures who know much more than we do, so we accept their beliefs as the truth.

A parent is usually a child’s first role model. Even though most parents say they want their children to be happy, healthy and successful in some way, parenting is only one of many demanding responsibilities that challenge adults. For many reasons, most people are inadequately prepared to raise a child. Even though some parents have excellent support systems and many people take parenting classes, parenting is an ever-changing series of complex challenges with more “What if?” questions than definite answers. It’s no wonder that even the best of parents creates some negative effects that can block your confidence and success as a leader.

This series of Women’s Leadership Anxiety and Confidence articles will help you become more aware of how we unconsciously carry our parents’ beliefs and behaviors into every aspect of our lives, including our self-image, relationships and careers. You’ll understand how dysfunctional parental behaviors often combine with a parent’s inaccurate, unexamined beliefs. You’ll comprehend how you’ve unconsciously integrated these beliefs and behaviors into your own consciousness. You’ll notice how family conditioning can diminish your leadership confidence and success.

Most importantly, during this article series, you’ll discover how you can gain freedom to become the confident, exemplary leader you want to become. We’ll begin the series with an article about the effects on women leaders when one or more parents were critical of their children, even when their kids were doing their best. Over time, we’ll cover the following types of parental influences that can deflate your decision-making, confidence and effectiveness.

Examples of How Parental Beliefs and Behaviors Can Decrease Your Leadership Confidence and Success

  • An overly critical parent who disparages their child’s abilities or performance without also providing adequate and appropriate positive feedback, support and encouragement. This scenario can create workaholism and an unconscious negative feedback loop in a leader’s brain. The inner critic (a negative internal voice or thinking pattern) will ignore objective assessments of the leader’s performance. Instead, it will babble, “Why didn’t you do a better job?” or “You’ll never be good enough to succeed!” Leadership coaching is a proven way to cultivate your inner coach (your inner defender or internal champion), elevate your leadership confidence and effectiveness so you can end this painful scenario.
  • A self-absorbed parent with narcissistic behaviors. When a parent is obsessed with self-interest, in spite of the fact that a parent’s official job is to meet the needs of their vulnerable child, the child may develop a people-pleaser personality. Over the years, the child may struggle to gain love, support and encouragement that isn’t forthcoming and eventually settle for less than they deserve. Until the leader who had a self-absorbed parent with narcissistic behaviors discovers they are worthy of appreciation and respect at work and at home and learns how to self-reinforce, their leadership will suffer. Leadership coaching is a proven way to learn and practice accurate self-evaluation.
  • The parent who tries to elevate their own self-esteem by programming their children for the parent’s image of success. Since this parent often selects the child’s goals and activities from a young age forward, the child may enter a career they wouldn’t have selected if they had been given opportunities to discover their authentic strengths and interests. As a consequence, this child can become an under-achiever or a workaholic who treads water because they’re struggling to swim in a work environment that’s toxic for their personality, talents and needs. Since their parent programmed their child’s life and career, they may be uncomfortable making decisions on their own, so leadership will be difficult. Leadership coaching is a proven way to help you discover your ideal path forward, based on your personal interests, strengths and values. Your confidence and decision-making will be much better and easier because you’ll know yourself better and your priorities will be crystal clear to you.
  • A perfectionist parent has unrealistic standards of behavior and achievement that can cause a child to feel inadequate and judge themselves severely when they make mistakes, instead of viewing the experience as a learning opportunity. Some children also become procrastinators because they fear doing a task the wrong way instead of understanding that we learn and grow by making mistakes. Leadership coaching for this individual includes confidence building as well as tools for realistic self-assessment and self-reinforcement. Procrastination fades during the coaching journey because fear of being judged harshly for a mistake disappears.
  • A controlling, domineering or demanding parent. In this case, a rigid parenting style disconnects the child from the choices necessary to explore life, discover their own personality and life path and make and correct errors. Since the child is not allowed to make their own decisions and must follow parental dictates, the child may have trouble making decisions and may become a procrastinator. Leadership coaching with this individual begins with a joyful self-discovery experience that includes confidence elevation and exploration of essential decision-making tools. This process deletes procrastination and avoidance behaviors. Most coaching clients are thrilled to comprehend that they do not need anyone else’s permission to simply forgive themselves for making a mistake so they can go forward. Once they understand that mistakes are an essential learning tool, they own their ability to become an exemplary leader.

Use Women’s Leadership Coaching to Alleviate Leadership Anxiety

The next article in this Women’s Leadership Anxiety and Confidence series describes eight additional parenting styles and their potential effects on your leadership. In subsequent articles, you’ll discover more about how you can truly gain freedom from family beliefs and behaviors that have been holding you back.

Women’s Leadership Coaching is a proven way to alleviate leadership anxiety, elevate your confidence and build successful teams, all of which are essential to your success. That’s why the vast majority of successful woman leaders advise other female leaders and emerging leaders to “hire a coach.”

The average ROI (return on investment) of leadership coaching is over 500%. Click here to complete a short application so I can contact you for a complimentary, no obligation, 20-minute consultation. If we decide we’re a good fit as client and coach, we’ll discuss a coaching agreement. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and being of assistance.

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. as interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Certified Master Leadership and Executive Coach Doris Helge is author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job” and “Transforming Pain Into Power.” Doris has helped hundreds of leaders like you meet every challenge you’re facing. To make sure you receive each weekly tip, click here to join our mailing list.


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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at www.WomensLeadershipTips.com Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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