When I was a brand new executive, I was super excited, I had tons of ideas, and I felt jazzed to dive right into the pool–to lead, leverage my experience and my strategic mind at the helm of a great organization. I went in, full-force.
Immediately, I immersed myself in listening, assessing, learning, and experimenting. What was required for success? What did we have, and what were we missing? My team and I examined and made choices about what we were offering, how we were going to make and spend money, cultivate donors, manage the team and the board, rebuild trust and create community, foster partnerships, attract resources, and run a cultural facility.
There were so many challenges, so many opportunities, and so many ideas contributed by so many generous people about how we could do all of these things. It was overwhelming and beautiful, with constantly changing and moving parts, (good and bad) surprises, and 100%-all-the-time learning. I loved it.
But after a few months, I hit a wall. I realized that I needed help sorting through and prioritizing the what, who, how, and when. I was afraid of asking for help, especially as a new executive, because I worried it would make me look weak or ineffective, or come across as less-than-confident.
I couldn’t talk to my board (my “boss”) about what I didn’t feel we (or I) could do well, or where I felt insecure as a leader or around certain management areas. I also couldn’t tell the team about the deep worries I had about whether we were on a path to success, where I suspected we were failing, and how I wasn’t sure we were going to make it all work.
I couldn’t overburden my mentors, friends, and family with too much about what I was going through, or my deep anxiety about how I felt I was failing the people I’d committed to lead.
I overcompensated for these worries by presenting myself and the situation in the rosiest possible terms, with a lot of confidence, and then by isolating myself to manage my worries–aka “handling” things by myself.
It was a very lonely situation.
About that same time, a very successful friend approached me with an idea to launch a bootcamp for new executive directors, to help them…