• Alena Bennett

Are you becoming "I-centric"?

I need to deliver this outcome.

I need to get this job.

I need to convince them I’m right.

I need to show them what I can do.

I need to make myself look good.

I need to sell myself and I don’t like it.


See a pattern?


It’s crunch time. Whether you’re at the pointy end of you financial year-end, looking for your next role, or starting a new major project, it’s stressful. There is a lot pressure - internal and external - to get an outcome. And as high performing leaders in finance, we tend to place a lot of that pressure on ourselves. So begins, our “I-centric” dialogue.


What this sounds like


During year-end 


“I need to deliver the accounts to the Audit Committee by next week. I hope I can meet the deadline. My team are a bit of a problem as they probably won’t deliver on time. In fact, I’ll probably need to work every evening this week and over the weekend to get through it all. I can’t afford for any mistakes to be made at this crucial time.”


If you’re looking for your next role 


“I hope I can convince them that I’m the right person for the job. I just need to make sure I’ve prepped correctly. I know the stories I am going to tell if they ask me for specific questions and I have the questions I am going to ask when it comes to that point in the interview. I’m just so stressed as I hate talking about myself and I feel that it’s at the final stages of the interview that I get too much in my own head and stuff it up.”


When you’re about to start a big project


"I’ve just been put on this big new project and it is a great opportunity for me. I just hope I can deliver and that the other BAU activities I have on my plate don’t get in the way. If I just put my head down and bum up and crank through the work hopefully I can deliver what I need on time and to quality. It may mean some long days and late nights but if I can just focus on getting through the work I’m sure no one will worry about me.”


What are we missing?


Finance is a people job. Most people think it’s a numbers job, but it’s actually about the people. It’s stuff that people do and people create that forms the basis of the numbers. What happens with those numbers (allocation of scarce resources) is determined through the decisions of people. 


The missing link in the above statements is, that’s right, people.


I’m often asked, how come I don’t get stressed when I talk on stage in front of hundreds of people? Having to memorise all my ’stuff’ and talk with energy and enthusiasm in front of a bunch of smart people. Now…it’s taken practice, because - I admit - at first, I was stressed. Really stressed. But very quickly I realised, that I didn’t need to, because the speech wasn’t about me - it was actually about them. The audience. Helping them get whatever they wanted to get out of that hour or so they were spending with me. They don’t care how smart I am or how much I know. They care about themselves and what they need from my session. I learned that I needed to focus on them and giving them what they need.


That is the key to shifting the focus and stress away from "I".


I’m often asked, how come I don’t get stressed when I talk on stage in front of hundreds of people? Having to memorise all my ’stuff’ and talk with energy and enthusiasm in front of a bunch of smart people. Now…it’s taken practice, because - I admit - at first, I was stressed. Really stressed. But very quickly I realised, that I didn’t need to, because the speech wasn’t about me - it was actually about them. The audience. Helping them get whatever they wanted to get out of that hour or so they were spending with me. They don’t care how smart I am or how much I know. They care about themselves and what they need from my session. I learned that I needed to focus on them and giving them what they need.


That is the key to shifting the focus and stress away from "I".


When we focus on “I”, here is what happens:


During year-end


You don’t get support from others - you run the very real risk of making a mistake.


If you’re looking for your next role


You don’t get the job. This is due to your inability to give the interviewer what they need to know you’re the right person on the job.


When you’re about to start a big project


You don’t set clear expectations with your stakeholders. You set yourself up for failure from the start.


What do we need?


Preparation and empathy. Time in the diary to sit and put yourself in the other person’s or peoples’ shoes. Understand what they need, what they want and what they expect. If you think they respond more to a stick rather than a carrot, understand what they’re worried about, what frustrates them and what keeps them up at night.


Even if you’re a self-confessed ‘people person’, this stuff takes intentional effort and focus. It is when we undervalue the people we rely on and whose support we need that result in us not achieving what we want.


Shift from “me” to “we”.


Love to hear your thoughts...

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​© 2020 Alena Bennett Pty Ltd.

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