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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.


  1. Distorted self-perception hinders growth. You see yourself before you develop your leadership.
  2. Authenticity includes aligning heart and behavior. 
  3. Lousy leaders ignore the perceptions of others. Any leader who doesn’t care how they occur lacks the emotional intelligence to lead effectively.
  4. Feedback enables you to align impact with intention.

Collaborative self-reflection:

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:

  1. I’m proud of myself when I ______.
  2. I’m disappointed in myself when I ______.
  3. I’m really good at ______.
  4. I wish I ______.
  5. Others believe that I ______.
  6. I’m most helpful to others when I ______.
  7. I’m learning that I ______.
  8. I aspire to ______.
  9. I want to be known as ______.
  10. Things go best when I ______.
  11. Things go badly when I ______.
  12. Others believe I’m really good at ______.

How might leaders engage in collaborative self-reflection?


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