How to Bridge the Perilous Gap Between Impact and Intent
The way you occur to others and the way you imagine yourself are completely different people.
You interpret your heart. Others interpret your behavior.
The perceptions of others wouldn’t matter if leadership was done in isolation.
Successful leaders work to align impact of behavior with intention in the heart.
My wife used to complain that I sounded harsh. My response, “I don’t have animosity in my heart.” Both of us were right.
The gap between impact and intent results in poor performance, personal frustration and/or self-pity. You might be frustrated that others don’t ‘get’ you. Or, you feel sorry for yourself because you’re underappreciated.
Those who argue when receiving feedback often have disconnected or distorted perceptions of themselves. I argued with my wife when she told me I was harsh. Now I see that arguing about being harsh supported her observation that I seemed harsh.
You wrongly believe the real you is obvious.
- Distorted self-perception hinders growth. You see yourself before you develop your leadership.
- Authenticity includes aligning heart and behavior.
- Lousy leaders ignore the perceptions of others. Any leader who doesn’t care how they occur lacks the emotional intelligence to lead effectively.
- Feedback enables you to align impact with intention.
Invite a trusted colleague into your private reflections. Let them hear what you say about yourself to yourself.
12 things to say during collaborative self-reflection:
- I’m proud of myself when I ______.
- I’m disappointed in myself when I ______.
- I’m really good at ______.
- I wish I ______.
- Others believe that I ______.
- I’m most helpful to others when I ______.
- I’m learning that I ______.
- I aspire to ______.
- I want to be known as ______.
- Things go best when I ______.
- Things go badly when I ______.
- Others believe I’m really good at ______.
How might leaders engage in collaborative self-reflection?
I had some difficulty answering the questions and I think I know myself pretty well. As you suggested, it would be interesting to have a trusted friend or colleague listen to my answers and have them share their perceptions about me. That might be tough to hear so maybe I should be careful what I wish for! 🙂 I do believe for many – myself included sometimes – that when things are not going as we want them to there is often a disconnect between what we believe to be true and what actually is true. Perception is reality.
another way to engage in collaborative self reflection is follow up when we behave inappropriately. Everyone is entitled to a bad day, and when that happens it may mean an apology is in order. It shows that you do engage in self reflection as well as taking responsibility for your actions. Its key when the impact was the opposite of the intent.
Thanks for the post, it was good timing for me.
A see a lot of wisdom in this post and will share with people I know who aspire to leadership and are already thinking about how they occur. In our organization impact vs. intent comes up routinely. The questions you pose see so simple until you have to actually focus on answering them. The ones that take the time to do the heavy lifting of self reflection instead of glossing over (using the excuse of irrelevance or simplicity) will be so much further along their path to effective leadership. Thanks for the post, wonderful early morning brain food for me.
Another way to bridge the gap between self-perception and the perception others have of you is to be a person of integrity. I take that to mean you are the same person in public as you are in private.
Really good post! It’s important to remember this when there’s a disagreement with a colleague that the way we’re seeing them is probably not their intention. Then we can take the time to find out what their intentions are and often what seems like a disagreement is really only misunderstood intentions.
This seems like a lot of focus on I not We?