I had a number of conversations today with one of Big Company's clients. The clients entire leadership team was president, CEO, CFO, CIO and a bunch of other C-level executives I can't describe for privacy's sake, however their revenue is measured in the Billions and they have a well known national brand.
I had a chance to lead the meeting. It was a fairly challenging situation as several of my peers were each presenting different business strategies for a partnership. In effect I was competing against internal competitors - quite awkward since we normally collaborate together. However, it was enjoyable to compete and see who could put the best strategy together. Especially as the competition helps position us for leadership roles within our own organization.
It was a wonderful experience. By the end of the meeting I felt everything had gone quite well. But after discussing it with my competitors, they also felt the meeting went quite well. Hmm... no one knew where they stood.
Later that afternoon, while in another client meeting, I received a telephone message that one of the C's wanted to talk further about the business strategy I had proposed. Later this evening we talked for about an hour. The dialogue went quite well - the c-level contact informed me that he was going with my strategy and would tell his organization tomorrow, in advance of the legal agreements being prepared. Wow! What a great response. I sincerely hope I exceed his (and Big Company's expectations).
Incidentally, I will bring my competitors into the project, but under my strategy, versus the alternatives. They've already committed to supporting me. So things will be quite interesting.
What did I learn? I had some fairly negative experiences a while ago and I hadn't realized how deeply they had undermined and chipped away at my self-esteem - these experiences happened prior to joining Big Company. Leading a c-level meeting, being treated respectfully as a colleague and confidant and besting my peers really helped re-establish both confidence and self-esteem.
I wonder what I missed while the self-doubt had been smothering my psyche? It's not all gone, but I feel confident moving forward.