Wondering what your colleagues are thinking about you lately? What’s the buzz on you at exec team or board meetings?
Good. Go for it—it’s important to understand how others view us. Not to pretend or try and manage it, but in order to develop ourselves, and to care for the impact we have on others.
So go ahead, glimpse yourself through their eyes by asking them questions, requesting their candor, and avoiding being defensive when you hear what you don’t want to know.
Ongoing feedback (whether one-off, or full-blown 360-degree assessment) is an important part of leadership development, and a big part of the work I do with clients.
Once you know, what do you do about it?
Let it sink in over some time. Then choose wisely what to do with it—work ONLY on what you truly want to develop or change about yourself.
Too often (80% of the time or more) when an exec finds out how they are perceived, they'll want to "fix it" by trying to repackage themselves to revise those perceptions. Maybe I want you to think I’m nicer, tougher, or that I’m a harder worker (on the executive floor of one firm I know, eyeballs are darting out after 6pm to see who leaves first, and to stay later than the rest.)
When you try and manage your “outside” or “public face” you may have some degree of success, but it tends to be temporary, and exhausting. Just ask notorious celebrities and politicians how well this works, particularly when it’s intentionally inauthentic.
When you change what you TRULY want to change about yourself, perceptions will follow, and as you are developing, you can ping them to see that they are keeping up.
If not, the solution isn’t prettier packaging, but more work on yourself. We are what we choose to be, not what we want others to see. Honest, lasting, energizing change starts from the inside out, not the outside in.