Executive Coach Executive CoachExecutive Coach
Scott Eblin offers his take on lessons in the news and his advice on your pressing leadership questions.

Their Perception Is Your Reality Revisited

ARCHIVES
jcjgphotography/Shutterstock.com

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of colleague feedback reports for new executive coaching clients. I just finished one a little while ago actually. Most of the time when I deliver the feedback to the client it goes pretty well. They may have a few surprises but, being the high achievers that they are, are committed to getting better.

Sometimes, though, I face a client who wants to argue with the feedback. The argument can take many forms from “They don’t understand,” to “They’re just wrong.” After letting my client vent for a little while, my response to the argument is something like, “You may be right. Maybe they are wrong, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because their perception is your reality.”

I’ve yet to have a client argue with that point. After thinking about it for a few moments, they usually nod and say, “Yeah, that’s right.”

When you’re taking on the work of becoming a more effective leader, you usually will want to focus on adopting or changing one or two behaviors that will make the biggest difference. You also, though, need to focus on the perceptions that others have of your behaviors. Because you work and lead in a system full of people, your overall effectiveness will depend as much on changing their perception as on changing your behavior.

Here are three things to keep in mind as you do that:

  1. You actually have to change some behaviors: You can’t change perceptions without actually changing some behaviors. As I’ve written here before, start with something that’s easy to do and likely to make a difference. You’ll be amazed at how much leverage and momentum you can get from relatively simple changes.
  2. You have to help people see the change you’re making: Don’t wait for people to notice because they won’t. They’re too busy and preoccupied with their own stuff. Tell them what you’re working on and occasionally ask them if what you’re doing is making a difference. When they stop and think about it, they’ll probably recognize that it is. You’re on your way to changing their perceptions.
  3. You need to be patient: Don’t expect people’s perceptions of you to turn on a dime. Particularly if there’s a long held story about you, it will take people awhile to groove the new story about you. Perception changes almost always lag actual behavior changes. Keep at it and be patient.

What about you? What’s been your experience with changing your colleagues’ perception of how you show up as a leader?

(Image via  jcjgphotography /Shutterstock.com)

Executive coach Scott Eblin’s goal is to help you succeed at the next level of leadership. Throughout the week, he’ll offer his take on the leadership lessons in the news and his advice on your most pressing leadership questions. A former government executive, Scott is a graduate of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of The Next Level: What Insiders Know About Executive Success.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.