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3 Ways Accurate Self-Perception Can Improve Your Leadership

How to improve your leadership through self-reflection and feedback.

Key points

  • Taking time to self-reflect can help someone become a better leader and colleague at work.
  • An important step is allowing oneself to see old and familiar perceptions through a new lens.
  • Strengthening one's leadership style can help them serve others more effectively, both at work and in other areas of life.

When it comes to behavioral learning, people model what they see more than what they hear. Children, for one, are known to be great observers of behavior. They grow into adults and are shaped by those years of observation and interaction in their environment. Consequently, if the environment they grew up in was chaotic, abusive, uncertain, or aggressive, they are at risk for modeling the same behavior.

On the other hand, if the environment was orderly, predictable, and collaborative, they will likely replicate those behaviors. When a person assumes a leadership role in an organization, their leadership style is likely to reflect their behavioral models from childhood—unless they make a conscious effort to change their paths.

How Leadership is Shaped by Worldview

The practice of leadership is an outward expression of an individual’s internal worldview. Anybody who is practicing leadership should find out how their personal worldview influences their leadership style. People tend to see their challenges through the lens of their worldview, which may not be a good fit for the circumstances they face. And when they approach challenges through that lens, they tend to repeat what they already know.

However, by pausing and reexamining the possibilities of not seeing the whole picture, a challenge can be seen for what it is, without internalizing it. There are ways to see an old issue with a new lens. These three simple and practical ways can help measure whether leadership practices match the leader’s personality traits.

How Do You Feel About Yourself?

The stories you tell about yourself have the most long-lasting impact on everything you think, feel, say, or do. If you see yourself in a distorted view, everything about you will be viewed through that lens, including how you practice leadership. If you want to know whether you are good in your position of authority, watch people’s body language (eyes, shoulders, sitting position, leg position) when you walk into a room, especially, when no one was expecting you. If your associates’ body language does not align with how you feel about yourself, then there is a disconnect. Finding out what that disconnect is would help.

Ask People Outside Your Professional Circle

People who know you personally, such as loved ones, parents, siblings, spouse, children, and childhood friends are good sources of useful feedback. Even though they know you on a personal level, they can be good indicators of your leadership tendencies.

One way to find out if they are being frank about you is to ask them, “What do you think it would be like for you to work for me?” Their answer might help you to understand your leadership style. Because they know something, you probably don’t know or don’t want to know about yourself.

Have Your Associates Anonymously Evaluate Your Leadership

There is something unnerving about receiving an anonymous evaluation from colleagues. Even when if you think you have a good rapport with them, uncertainty still sets in.

But this approach can actually be a great way of knowing what people really think about you without identifying who the responders are. Finding out how either relevant or unfriendly you are to your colleagues can be a good thing if you genuinely want to know so that you can better serve them. It is an adventure worth taking.

This exercise of finding out how your peers view you through an anonymous evaluation is really all about making the effort to be the best version of yourself, not just in your own eyes but also in the eyes of those around you. If the anonymous results are inconsistent with your self-perceptions, then it may be time to work on yourself so you can better serve humanity.

Leadership is not all about influencing others in a business setting. It is more about energizing yourself to do more for humanity through service in whatever fashion you have chosen. How you come across as a leader is a reflection of the environment that shapes you. Therefore, if you do not like your leadership style, you should check on how you were brought up and how that internal environment shows up in your life, including the way you interact with others and the perceptions you have about yourself.


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