Leadership Perspectives: Seeing Ourselves As Others See Us
Ever wonder what you look like, sound like, act like in the eyes of your customer, direct report, Fed Ex delivery person, spouse or partner?
While most of us will give lip service to feedback there is a deep tendency to shrink away from being told anything that smacks of negativity. Out loud we usually say, “Thanks for telling me, I’ll look into your comments” while internally the thought is: “Who do you think you are, that’s just the way I am!”
There is such powerful resistance to change that most of us would rather be right than happy. We tend to dig our heels in and while we hear the words to make change happen in our lives, they slide away like an ice cream cone rolling down a toddler’s face on a hot summer’s day.
Ingrained habits and patterns of behavior have their place. Think about it: what if every morning you had to relearn to brush your teeth, comb your hair or get dressed.
Yet, way too often we go on automatic, not thinking about what we are doing and how it impacts others. Gandhi put it perfectly when he said we should not mistake what is habitual for what is natural. Changing what is habitual is one of the goals of self awareness, one of the key elements of becoming a great leader.
What we teach in “Total Leadership Connections” is the power of becoming Pattern Aware. This goes hand and hand with developing high emotional intelligence. Here are some thoughts to help you move from “It’s just the way I am” to “Here is how I choose to be.”
First, take the time to really listen to feedback. It is there for you to move to higher levels of self awareness and leadership excellence. While listening, rather than brushing comments aside, notice your gut reaction. If you tend to feel tightness in your stomach or notice you are clenching your fists or your jaw, pay close attention.
You can learn a lot about yourself simply by monitoring your own body sensations. Most of these basic reactions stated in childhood when you were yelled at by a parent, sibling or a teacher. This is where we all learned to hate feedback. It was rarely given in thoughtful, well planned ways. Usually it was a slap on the rear or a taunt, or detention. Not good for learning better habits. Good for creating defensive positioning.
Gandhi was right, what is habitual is not natural. What is natural is to tell the truth, be accountable and look for ways to cooperate and accentuate creativity.
Sylvia Lafair, Ph.D., author of the award winning book, “Don’t Bring It to Work” and “Pattern Aware Success Guide”, is President of CEO, Creative Energy Options, Inc., a global consulting company focused on optimizing workplace relationships through extratordinary leadership. Dr. Lafair’s unique model has revolutionized the way teams cooperate, relate and innovate.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-636-3858; http://www.sylvialafair.com
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