Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.
This week I faced a leadership challenge that rocked my view of my abilities as a leader and mentor. It caused me to take a bit of time to reflect on the person that I see in the mirror. Let me start at the beginning. I’m working with some newly formed teams. We are in the process of getting to know each other. There has been a major reorganization of staff and many report to a new manager. We are working on challenging projects, learning new tools, and developing supporting processes. With this in mind, when I heard that a manager had rather bluntly given some negative feedback from me to a new staff member, I took a deep breath and decided to first assume that they had the best intentions. This meant that I needed to not jump to the conclusion that what I had heard was accurate. I find that these topics are best confronted quickly by having a candid one on one conversation. I set up a meeting with the manager to discuss the interaction. When we met I was impressed with the approach that they said they had taken to give the feedback to their employee and found that the communication I had received was not entirely accurate.
Right about now you are probably asking yourself what rocked me about this conversation. I handled it well, I think, and my fellow manager had handled the situation very well from how they told me they had approached the topic with the employee.
The earthquake came later as I reflected on the incident overall and thought about other feedback I had been receiving about the team’s feelings toward my interactions with them. While in this case the information I had received was not entirely accurate, what it did point out for me is that there was an undercurrent of discomfort and confusion within the team. I had to ask myself what part I was playing in this confusion. It was my attempt to answer this question that shook up my perception of myself. In trying to see myself through the eyes of these new team members, I realized that I was not seeing reflected back the leader and mentor that I see in the mirror each morning. Now I was faced with the challenge of trying to build the image of myself that I want others to see.
The first step I decided was to apologize for any confusion that I had caused and clarify my requests by explaining “why” I was making them. With that behind me, I then communicated my overall role in the projects and what success looked like for me and why what I was doing was important for the business, the project, and hopefully overall for them and their success. The last step has been for me to reflect on what I could do differently in the future. This is where I need your help. I like to think that “to know me is to love me and if you don’t love me you just don’t know me well enough yet.” So how do I get people to know me better? How do I get a lot of coins into their emotional bank account quickly?
After you give me your sage advice, then I have a task for you. Look into the eyes of your team and do you see the same reflection back that you see in your mirror every morning? Do you see that confident leader that you know you are and if not what are you going to do about it?