Yesterday, as a personal self awareness test, I posted what I assumed approximately 25 of my colleagues, clients, friends, and family would identify as my top 2-3 flaws/habits related to work.
The verdict is in, an despite a small response, I was right on two of them, and way off on one.
I postulated that "adding too much value" and "passing judgement' would be two identified and they were. I'm aware (maybe it is the consultant in me--- or wait, I'm I making the mistake of #20 on the list- "An excessive need to be 'me'"!) that I am somewhat of a know it all, and feel like I need voice my opinion at every turn. My dad and I, in fact, had a conversation about our gene pool of vocal opinions this morning on a run.
Because of this, I will strive to state my opinion when it is really wanted (when I can truly add value) and/or when it is solicited. Talking just to here myself talk in a meeting or in a one-on-one discussion is not warranted or solicited.
Passing judgement is something I have always been guilty of. I loved what one client told me about her step in front of the mirror about passing judgement. Basically, she said, "I was angry at all these self righteous, judgmental people and then I realized I was just as bad because I was constantly judging them!" What a fabulous self-awareness wake up call (and something I will write about next week- What you find as the biggest flaw in others is usually what we are most guilty of ourselves!)
To combat this, I think my greatest ally will be, always asking myself, "Have you put yourself in their shoes?" Sometimes the Golden Rule is the best and only leadership principle needed.
Other responses I got were, "Negativity, or 'Let me expelling with that won't work.'- the need to share our negative thoughts even when they aren't asked." I think this goes in conjunction with my need to always add my two cents whether asked for our not. Tying my work on improving adding my two cents, I believe, will help in this area as well.
And finally, where did I get an "F" in self-awareness? I listed that no one would site "Failing to express gratitude" and someone did. The person sending in this response was kind enough to elaborate and said, "MIW most certainly does not have bad manners. I don't know that she showers people with gratitude anytime they do something good, but in a professional setting, that's not necessary anyway."
While I appreciate the sentiments and explanation of my colleague, whoever it may be, one of the things that I almost pride myself on is working to express gratitude, particularly in the workplace. One of my New Year's resolutions was to get rid of the 100 professional thank you notes I ordered by the end of 2012. That's at least 2 handwritten notes a week (to see why I think this is important, see The Priceless Handwritten Note). I think I should endeavor to find ways to thank people by their standard of gratitude, not my own (not everyone finds a handwritten note that wonderful) and to follow my own advice of writing notes or expressing gratitude to those who I'm closest to. This week, I've sent my two notes out, and I would call them acquaintances at best.
So, what does this exercise mean at all, other than my self-indulgence, and more importantly, what does it say about leadership? As a mentioned before, self-awareness is the first step in establishing behavioral change. You can't improve that which you don't know needs to be improved. In addition, aligning what you think you need to improved about yourself needs to be based on what other's think. Their perception shapes your leadership or lack thereof. Once you have this reflection, you can set about making positive behavioral change.
When have you come face-to-face with a different reflection of yourself than others saw and how did you respond?