When was the last time you looked in the mirror? What were you hoping to see? Did the mirror show you how you’re showing up as a leader? As a mother or father? As a role model?
The mirror is a good metaphor for what we need as leaders to understand how we’re showing up, and what might need to change for us to be the people on the outside that we so want to be on the inside.
Think about this. When it comes to your appearance, you can get a sense of yourself with a small hand mirror. But you’ll see more with a full-length mirror, and even more with a three-sided department store mirror. Even then, there are still some things a mirror can’t tell you: the overall impression you make when you walk into a room, the way your presence makes people feel, and how you look when you walk around. For these, you need other sources of input.
Just so with the way you show up as a leader. You can get some information on your own, just through reflection and self-assessment. But the more strategies you use to find out about yourself, the more complete your view will be. A variety of strategies will help you flesh out your view.
You can reveal some things about yourself by asking open-ended questions.
- Where are you especially talented?
- What do you love to do?
- What do you do without even thinking?
- What do people count on you for?
- In your social life, what role do you play?
- At work, what are you recognized for?
- Given the freedom to do things your way, how do you do them?
To find out more about the rest of you, ask:
- What activities would you gladly never have to do again?
- What do you wish you could pass on to someone else?
- When do you feel dragged down?
- What do you dread?
- When do you procrastinate?
As a coach, I deeply respect the insight leaders have into their own answers, and the knowledge you discover from these questions is invaluable. But it’s not enough.
To really get a sense of what you’re like, you also need some outside opinions. Here are some ideas.
Ask your friends, family and coworkers what they notice about you. How would they describe you? Get the positive and negative take. You’ll learn more about how you strike other people and discover more about what makes you brilliant.
Take profiles, assessments, and research-based quizzes to reveal your attributes. Each assessment will yield different information.
More customized and personal than most assessments, a 360-degree profile is a survey you conduct to get feedback on your effectiveness from the people “all around you” (hence the name). Traditionally, the survey is developed by a third party – say, a coach, consultant or research group – then distributed to a group of people who know you well enough to give you input.
How to get great feedback you can use to improve your effectiveness is the topic of just one of the information-rich chapters in the book, The Inner Edge: The 10 Practices of Personal Leadership. To learn more, go to www.TheInnerEdge.com. You’ll find an overview of the book, endorsements by such thought leaders as Marshall Goldsmith and Stephen Covey, and more!
When you take the steps to get good quality feedback, you’ll make the positive changes you need to make in order to like the leader you see in the mirror.