Whether You Think You Can, Or Think You Can’t, You’re Right

By |Published On: December 5, 2023|Categories: Coaching|4 min read|

Throughout our careers, we prepare for our next job. Maybe it’s that promotion to the next level we’ve been working toward, a lateral move to broaden skills, or a similar role in a new company or industry. When that time comes, we usually feel confident about moving into that new role.

But life is not always a steady progression to the next level. Sometimes an abrupt change that dislocates our sense of confidence and forces us beyond our comfort level. Maybe it’s the result of an unexpected change of leadership, the sale of your company, a Board action, or just an unexpected, but huge, new opportunity. Suddenly, despite all the career planning, you find yourself in a new position where you feel excited about the new challenge but a bit “out over your skis”. You realize that if you are going to be successful, you will need to ramp up quickly, exude competence and confidence, and quickly build a strong team. You have a lot to learn, and you have a completely new team — who can you trust and rely on for help?

Does this sound familiar?

I spent my 20+ year business career in brand management. I’d led staffs of approximately 30 professionals. I’d given multitudes of presentations to our company leadership, sales organization, and customers. I’d led the development of our annual and long-term strategic plans and delivered the company’s profit and growth objectives required of my business.

But on a Saturday morning in early January 2015, I received a phone call that launched me into a career I never anticipated, and I knew nothing about. The call came from the Governor-elect of Illinois, asking me to accept an appointment. Eight days later I was sworn in as the Illinois State Comptroller.

Everything was new – government vs. private sector business, a highly visible role as a state officer, responsible for all payments made by the state of Illinois, with three physical offices and a staff of roughly 300 people spread all around the state. My first task after being sworn in was to chair the quarterly state employee pension fund board of trustees meeting. As I walked into the conference room all I could think of is “I know nothing about pensions”. The only “job description” for my new role as Comptroller was about a paragraph in state law. I was in a position I knew nothing about, without a clear explanation of what exactly my responsibilities were, with a staff I’d never met.

I could have used help to navigate the uncertainty of my new position, feel confident in my abilities, and ensure I had the best team in place to help me be successful.

I could have used a coach!

A coach can help accelerate your understanding of your new role by providing insights and resources to help you quickly get up to speed on important aspects of your industry, corporate culture, and specific job responsibilities. Coaches bring and can share a wealth of experience, insights, anecdotes, and best practices they’ve gained from working with other executives. Your coach will be a confidential sounding board, who has your best interests in mind, and will provide objective perspective, free from bias and office politics, creating a safe space where you can openly discuss your challenges and concerns.

A coach can help build your confidence by guiding you through self-assessment exercises to identify the specific skills, competencies, and values you need to succeed in your new role. A coach can also help you identify the skills you already have that will help you in your new role and provide guidance on how to build any new skills you may need. A coach will work with you on a personalized development plan, based on your unique strengths and specific needs. Finally, a coach can assist you in viewing any failures and setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, rather than as evidence of your inadequacy, which can preserve and build confidence.

A coach can help you build strong working relationships with your new staff, colleagues, and manager, and key external stakeholders. A coach can work with you to identify the best leaders in your organization by conducting assessments and providing insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your team. The coach can work with you on improving your communication skills, ensuring that you convey your expectations and provide feedback to your team in a constructive manner. They can also offer strategies for fostering a positive and collaborative team culture and motivating team members – all of which are essential for high performance. Finally, they can help you identify potential issues or conflicts within your team and develop strategies to help you mediate disputes to maintain a productive work environment.


In summary, an executive coach can provide the guidance, support, and expertise necessary to help you quickly ramp up and succeed in a new role, even if you initially feel unprepared. Their personalized approach and focus on your learning and development will help you navigate the challenges and uncertainties that come with a new position, allowing you to hit the ground running and thrive in your new role. With their expertise and tailored strategies, they will empower you to not only “think you can”, but actually “BELIEVE you can”.

Are you ready to change your management growth trajectory?