How to Bridge the Gap Between Intention and Perception
Leaders fail because they don’t see themselves as others see them.
Disconnection between internal intention and external perception limits leaders.
- You make space for others to thrive. Others see you as passive.
- You make decisions. Others see you as controlling.
- You show compassion. Others see weakness.
- You exhibit energy. Others see pushy.
Effective leaders build alignment between internal intention and external perception.
You cannot effectively influence others when you see yourself one way and others see you another.
Mark Goulston lists the 10 most common areas of dissonance he has seen.
- Shrewd – Sly.
- Confident – Arrogant.
- Humorous – Inappropriate.
- Energetic – Hyper.
- Holding strong opinions – Opinionated.
- Passionate – Impulsive.
- Strong – Rigid.
- Detail oriented – Nitpicking.
- Quiet – Passive or Indecisive.
- Sensitive – Needy.
Bridge the gap:
The greater the gap between internal intention and external perception, the higher your stress, frustration, and ineffectiveness.
To explain the gap leaders resort to blaming and explaining. “They don’t get me.”
Self-awareness is never achieved by pushing others away.
Self-awareness requires insight from others.
Give three people a list of leadership weaknesses. Ask them to rank the top three weaknesses others might see in you. They should choose the top three even if you aren’t ‘that bad’ in those areas.
The question is, “Others might see me as … .”
- Overly opinionated.
- Excessively perky.
- Closed minded.
The above list is from, “Just Listen,” by Mark Goulston.
Look for patterns. Take action when arrogance shows up on two or three lists, for example.
Ask each person to help you bridge the gap between intention with perception.
- What two things could I do to appear confident rather than arrogant?
- What could I stop doing that makes me seem arrogant?
How might leaders bridge the gap between internal intention and external perception?
We judge ourselves by our intents. Others judge us by our actions creating a perception. Driving to achieve congruence is the most important aspect of a leader, I think.
Thanks Rick. You bring a great point. They say perception is reality. It’s frustrating, but true. I don’t feel arrogant, but if others think I am, I am. If I want to be effective I have to deal with the gap. For me, it takes humility to accept that other’s perceptions are as valid as my intentions.
So others might see me as “arrogant” but I am not I am just confident and I am demanding and opinionated. It used to be those attributes carried one far and were valued and one saw them all over. Today it just seems that “the snowflake” generation (or whatever you call it) are just not as “committed” and invested as when I was in my 20s (40 years ago). That is very frustrating in getting “things”, “tasks” and work completed. Even when one attempts to raise up those 20-30’s somethings they just do not seem interested, they can’t seem to remember and are distracted. Yes more on me but its what I see. So my intention is direct and noted and the perception is that I (and others of my age, experience and such) are just too demanding. Its just the way I was brought up and the work ethic instilled in me by my Grandfathers, my father and Uncles and my first job(s) supervisors. I can’t help but be who I am, its carried me this far and seems to overwhelm me now because I take it all on myself (or at least that is my perception)
Thanks Roger. I wonder if there is a difference between setting expectations – making demands – and being demanding? The frustration you feel seem to illustrate the point of this post. If confidence is perceived as arrogance it’s a detriment to effectiveness.
Being less of who you are isn’t helpful, unless who you are is ineffective.
You know Dan, maybe when i make demands or are perceived as demanding its the expectations that I have had from others over the years speaking out. Its just normal business as I see it, its how I was schooled, raised and thrown into the fray and how I worked it out. More of a comment on “work ethic” as I see it than anything else and when I see a lesser work ethic its hard to accept.
Great point Roger. Dealing with the things that are hard to take reveals who we are. You’re believe in hard work. I’m a farm boy originally from Maine. We get up early and work. That’s what we do. The world is different today.
So how do we “old guys” hardened by our upbringings (in a good way) really deal with the world today. I have many discussions with my 23 year old Son (currently in college) on this a lot. His peers for the most part are uninspired, passionless and just going thru the motions. He says Dad you are so different, you are wired unlike most others. He takes what I can give him well and he does passionately work thru things differently than his peers. He also questions things like students abandoning class to protest something knowing when they do this they will ultimately get dropped from the class (and they don’t care). Is it really what we as Dads either don’t or do pass on to our Sons and Daughters as to “work ethic” and imparting “passion” into whatever we do. Seems like that is the case.
Then there are the times when the person actually IS arrogant, rigid, controlling, melodramatic, untrustworthy, and so on. And for whom the last thing to seek from others is feedback, and should it ever be offered, would be met with defensiveness, hostility, and repercussions to the person giving said feedback.
Shocking, I know.
Oh, this one goes to the heart of it :
Both literally and figuratively
re-read the above grouping these two words in sequence as a single label, and
Leaders Bridge the Gap.
“To explain …” “Gap Leaders …” “require Insight …”
Intent is Inconsequential to Insight … “I” cubed; when there is a
Disconnect b/t (internal) strategy & (external) tactics; then
Expose the weakness (and nonsense).
Bridge the Gap? Stop the BS: i.e.
Zero Tolerance for lack of coherence/integrity.
The rest is cognitive dissonance.
Self-awareness is a program (open-ended objective),
not a project (closed-system of scope/cost/schedule).
To pretend otherwise is to delude the Self,
As well as the Other.
Practicing social awareness, this could be using one’s senses to scan the work environment and body language of employees. This may give clues as to employees perception of one’s leadership.