What do people really think about you?

What do people really think about you? 

Is there a difference between how you see yourself and how others see you?

Research has shown there is one leadership quality that trumps all, evident in virtually every great entrepreneur, manager, and leader. That quality is self-awareness¹.

Self-awareness is your ability to see yourself accurately

Leadership starts with looking in the mirror (and looking into our feelings, reactions and decisions for example) and having no ego in the feedback we give ourselves.

Self-awareness enables our growth and development. Although most leaders believe they are self-aware, research tells us that only 10-15% of us are¹, and that we’re typically working to 50% of our potential²

When I started my business, a mentor told me that my business would only grow as fast as I was prepared to grow. Have I ever held myself back in my comfort zone? Yep, I definitely have. Procrastinating through uncertainty and fear has marked my journey at times. Fear doesn’t go away. What matters is how much fear you ‘let in’ and how you manage that fear. The other lens of self-awareness is to understand how other people view us.

We all have blind spots

Sam believed his team was too reactive and bogged down in the execution. He also wasn’t aware his team had varying ideas about where they were headed and what their strategy was. I asked Sam “how can you give feedback to someone about their lack of forward thinking when not everyone in the team knows the strategic direction you’ve set”?

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve – Bill Gates.

Leadership is perception. Feedback is a valuable way for you to know and understand the perceptions of others have of you and what’s driving those perceptions. Without feedback people tend to be self-critical or self-congratulatory.

Leadership is a journey of self-improvement through your ability to self-reflect and know yourself from different perspectives. I haven’t met a leader who doesn’t want to know how they’re perceived by others.

  • How often do you self-reflect on your behaviour? For example, how often do you reconcile after an interaction with someone “Are they feeling how I wanted them to feel after that interaction with me”?
  •  How often do you deliberately seek out feedback on your behaviour and leadership qualities?

Bringing it all together

How well do you know you? Feedback – from yourself and others – is a gift if you choose to see it that way. Someone’s perception of you isn’t the truth – but it is their reality. While you don’t have to like or agree with the feedback, acknowledging it without being defensive is a good starting point. Don’t wait for feedback – seek it out proactively: your leadership growth depends on it.

¹https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it

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