In this blog, =mc Director Charlotte Scott asks leaders to take a look under the rock…
Leaders who want to do the very best for their team and organisation tend to have some awareness of their impact on their teams already. Especially in the charity, social and public sectors. We like to think that we know our teams and how to support them. We want to provide challenging work and deliver excellent results together. But what if there is a difference between how we want to come across and how people are actually viewing us?
When you find out how others see you, it can be surprising. Perhaps even shocking.
It can go both ways – you may find that people have a more favourable view of your leadership than you do. I know someone who believes she is too quiet compared to her more vocal and seemingly confident colleagues. In reality, others see her as thoughtful and astute. Whilst she doesn’t say a lot, what she does say is always hugely useful and so carries a lot of weight. Important decisions are rarely made without her input.
The opposite is also true – other people may have a less favourable view of your leadership than you do. Take a manager I know who sees himself as analytical and thorough. He was stunned to find out that some people see him as negative and difficult. He thought that his approach was the best way to get the right answer, but didn’t spot that he was alienating people, and not taking them with him.
If we want to develop leadership our skills, it is important to regularly assess our leadership practice, and give ourselves feedback. But how do we know if our self-assessment is accurate, too harsh or too kind on ourselves?
The only way to really find out is to ask. Ask for feedback from managers, peers and team members. This external view helps us judge our effectiveness, and whether what we are doing is having the impact we want. Tapping into this collective impression can give us valuable information about what’s working for us and where we may need to adjust our approach.
We also need to analyse and understand the feedback we receive. It may be that different people see different things – is that because we need to display different behaviours in different settings? Perhaps we need to challenge upwards more than to our own team. Or inspire our team members more than our peers. Alternatively, we might receive similar feedback from a range of people. This can help us understand the behaviours we consistently display.
Whatever we hear, feedback will help improve the accuracy of our self-perception, which is a crucial component of self-improvement. If we don’t know our strengths, we might not realise what we are capable of, we may not have the confidence to assert our self or may miss opportunities to leverage those strengths. If we don’t know our weaknesses, we don’t know what areas we need to work on, or when to ask for help.
By asking for feedback, listening and acting on it, will also help us develop better working relationships and helps increase levels of trust, respect and loyalty.
To boost your leadership, consider undertaking a 360 analysis of your leadership style. Using a structured and established tool is a great way to get effective, meaningful feedback. Try Kouzes and Posner’s Leadership Practices inventory.
We use this tool in our Transformational Leadership programme. On the programme you will receive 360◦ feedback on your leadership behaviours, as well a range of tools and approaches to help you lead your team to greater results in more empowering ways.
If you want to discuss other ways to boost your self-awareness as a leader, get in touch online or call 020 7978 1516 to speak to one of our experienced coaches.
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Yvette Gyles, Director