I am approaching 30 years in IT and my 1st Director role. Yet somehow I feel unprepared. What can I tell myself about my experience to reduce this anxiety?

As you transition into your first Director role in IT, it's natural to experience feelings of anxiety and to feel unprepared. However, there are several ways you can reframe your experience to reduce this anxiety, drawing from the insights of executive coach Ed Batista.

Reframe Your Experience:

  • Recognize that your perception of feedback or new challenges as threatening is rooted in neurological and psychological dynamics that are well-understood. The feeling of being threatened doesn't equate to an actual threat to your safety. This understanding can help you regulate your distress and diminish the sense of social threat. [8]
  • Remind yourself that any feedback you receive, whether positive or negative, is data that includes both signal and noise. Not all feedback will be accurate or applicable, but it's always worth exploring. This can help you maintain an objective view of your performance and growth opportunities. [9]
  • Acknowledge that you have agency in the process. Even when you feel obligated to step up to new responsibilities, it is you who is making the choice to respond to that pressure. [9]

Develop a Feedback-Rich Culture:

  • Strive to create a culture where feedback is a normal part of organizational life. This can reduce the stress associated with feedback and help you, and others, view it as a tool for growth rather than a source of anxiety. [9]

Emotion Regulation:

  • Emotion regulation involves getting closer to your feelings, not distancing yourself from them. Pay attention to how anxiety manifests in your body and use an expanded emotional vocabulary to accurately label these feelings. [3]
  • Engage in mindfulness practices, ensure consistent sleep, and maintain regular physical activity to enhance your capacity for emotion regulation. These practices will also improve your attention management, which is closely related to emotion regulation. [6][7]

Talking About Feelings (Affect Labeling):

  • Practice talking about your feelings, as research shows that affect labeling can help regulate negative emotions by increasing activity in the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (RVLPFC), which dampens activity in the amygdala. This process can lead to better mental and physical health. [1][2]
  • Expand your emotional vocabulary to better communicate and understand your feelings. This can help you more effectively manage the emotions associated with stepping into a new role. [9]

Create a Supportive Culture:

  • Work towards establishing a culture that values psychological safety, where discussing feelings and challenges is normalized. This can make it easier for you and your team to take risks, learn, and grow. [20][22]


  • Remember the importance of self-care. Being well-rested and addressing your physical, emotional, and mental needs is crucial for managing stress and maintaining the capacity to slow down and process information effectively in high-pressure situations. [11]

By applying these strategies, you can reframe your approach to your new Director role, reducing anxiety and equipping yourself to handle the challenges ahead with greater resilience and confidence.