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  • Do you see yourself as a leader?
  • How do you think others see you?

People can see the same scenario or hear the same words and interpret them differently based on their life experiences, vantage points, gender, or ethnic/racial backgrounds. Back in college, I saw a video of a staged car accident. A person was standing on each of the four corners. When asked to describe what happened, they all agreed that there was an accident, but their descriptions varied. Whose version was correct? This reminds me of the old maxim: A person who has one analog watch, knows the exact time, but a person with more than one isn’t quite sure. 

As a leader, you have to be cognizant of how your colleagues and subordinates perceive you and how they interpret your actions. I was on an employee recruiting trip. There was a candidate I really wanted to hire. I thought we had a great interview. I was so excited about this candidate that I called to let her know I would offer her the job the following week. She was happy to hear the news but was surprised. She told me I appeared unimpressed and disinterested. I had taken medication to fight a cold which caused me to present in a manner that did not reflect my true feelings. We sat across an interview table but interpreted the interaction differently.

I’m not suggesting that you walk on eggshells around others. However, I am encouraging you to be aware that others are observing you. The most important things you have to do include being self-aware and operate accordingly. You also need to be empathetic yet understand you can’t please everyone or make them happy all the time. Sometimes you have to ask people to do things they don’t want to do in support of your department’s goals and the organization’s mission.

The workplace is diverse which presents opportunities and challenges. Diverse perspectives can reach untapped markets but could produce cultural clashes. To benefit from the upside and mitigate the downside be open to different perspectives. After all, one’s perspective is a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something. Rather than dismiss it out of hand, get curious. The sign of good leaders is their openness to new ideas no matter who they come from.

With that said, how do you see your organization and the people who work with you? Do they see you the way you want to be seen? A good way to find out is to have your Human Resources Department conduct a 360 evaluation of your performance based on your organization’s mission, your communication, and interpersonal engagement styles.

How does your perception of the office climate affect the way you interact with peers and subordinates? To learn more about my coaching practice, visit: