Monday, March 1, 2010

Self-awareness, a key to success

I was working in my office late one evening, when a client called me upset about a recently missed promotional opportunity.  He couldn't understand why he had been passed by for what seemed to be a fore gone conclusion.  We spent some time discussing the situation and after a period of reflection,  it seemed pretty clear what had happened.

A part of the process involved getting feedback from his bosses peer group.  While it had never been put directly before, it was clear that the feedback his boss received was negative.  I asked him if this was a surprise.  "Shock" is the best description he could give.  "Like being hit with a two by four."  A look of pain crossed his face as he struggled to comprehend.

After further discussion he realized that, while he was never given direct feedback, all the tell tale signs of their perceptions were there.  It took some good questioning and a look backwards at the behavior of his bosses peer group over several interactions, but then it all came clear.
His own behavior was driving the negative perception, even though he couldn't see it.  It was like being in quicksand, and the more he behaved in ways that had been rewarded in the past, the more he sank into negative perceptions.

He has now come to realize that without understanding the perception others have of his behavior, especially those in a position of influence and power, he will continue to sink under his own weight (or behavior).  A hard way to learn a valuable lesson. The things we are not aware of, but others are, can have a significant impact on our future.

Even if this has never happened to you it's important to know that others perceptions are their realities.  What you learn and how you deal with it can accelerate your growth both personally and professionally.
One way to increase your self-awareness is to take a third party view of yourself and do the heavy lifting of taking stock and making changes.  In our Executive and Management Assessment for Improved Performance course you can focus on this key to success.  Once you understand this, you can harness the power of self-awareness as a competitive advantage.