Three things to try when you are a crappy first draft


Clarissa didn’t come into her new leadership position fully formed and ready to lead. This is the way it often happens – someone is very good at what they do in their current position, and someone else who makes decisions decides that the first someone deserves a promotion. Clarissa was as surprised as anyone to be “chosen”, and when she thought about it, she realized that she could be very good at this next position, so she said “yes”.

Clarissa found the work of leadership to be more challenging than she expected with this change. People do unexpected things, and she didn’t feel in control in the same way that she did before.

Clarissa was a “crappy first draft”. This is a term that is often used in writing as encouragement for authors to revise and make their product better. Clarissa was determined to revise the first draft of herself in order to improve her leadership in this new job.

Any change in your environment may require you to step up your game – and you’re never quite prepared for it. Luckily, Clarissa recognized early on that she didn’t have all the skills she needed to lead others in the way the new position required.

Are things changing that require you to learn new skills or behaviors? Consider yourself lucky to recognize this, and then try…

Being vulnerable. When things change reflect on what you need to change in yourself. Be willing to see yourself as an instrument for leading change rather than allowing yourself to be pulled along by it (or resisting it). There are things you can take action on, but they require you to admit that you have to make personal change to move yourself and your team forward.

Surrounding yourself with people who have your best interests at heart. Find the people you trust who will support you and be honest with you. Lean on them; they’ll be happy to help you get to final draft stages. Having other successful individuals who can support you without judging is such a gift when you are feeling the pain of being a crappy first draft. They’ll help you gain the confidence you need.

Being diligent. Flying by the seat of your pants without setting aside time to check in with yourself on what and how you need to change is a mistake. In the midst of external circumstances beyond your control, it’s all too easy to put in long hours doing short term things that aren’t important to your leadership. When you find a way to spend a small portion of your day in reflective thought on what’s important for you to be at your best, you just might notice that your way of leading is coming along nicely.

Even writers have to react to external circumstances that change in order to make their written material relevant. Just like a writer who may revise their drafts several times, you need to practice being a leader and revise your behavior in order to stay relevant.



I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.