Now we’ve spoken about this before, but it is so important that I think it’s probably high time we discuss the topic again.
In this age of politicians and national figures (who clearly perceive themselves very differently to the way they are seen by many others), it’s worth considering whether your self-image is an accurate representation of your public persona.
Real life use
As a leader, particularly at a more senior level, much of your ability to influence the people in your ‘universe’ is shaped by what they think of you. It’s unlikely that they will ‘know’ you in any detail, so they will judge and respond according to what they do know. As an example of the way that reality and perception can vary greatly, consider how controversial people with a public reputation are viewed. For instance, Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Un are viewed drastically differently by their own people compared with the way they are portrayed in ‘the West’, especially by the media. How do you think they see themselves? Do you imagine they go to sleep at night thinking of themselves as a dangerous threat to world peace? Or do they rationalise their actions away as being a proportional response to perceived threats to themselves and their people?
The way you present yourself impacts others
Consider the information on which people are constructing their judgement of you. It’s hard to do this with any accuracy, as much of it will be hearsay, office gossip, interpretations and perceptions of what you may or may not have done or said. This will make up the consensus on whether you are a good person, a good leader or even good at your job.
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Examples of impact in everyday life
Wow… That’s a bit of a minefield, right? Well, yes, it is. More than that, it has a very significant impact on a great number of important things in your everyday life. Some of these could include:
- How much people care about meeting your needs or delivering the goals you set.
- How they ‘filter’ the things you say – to decide what you really mean.
- How they speak about you to others, such as stakeholders, recruiters, and even customers.
- How much priority they give to your needs and how much ‘discretionary effort’ they give – to go above and beyond what is expected.
- How engaged they are in their job.
- How they feel about their role, team and organisation.
This is a complex web of thoughts and issues, but worth thinking about. What do people think of you? How well do they know you? What assumptions might they be making about you? It’s important to work out what you need to do to shape their perceptions and opinions in helpful ways – for the good of the whole team and all stakeholders.
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