(This is Part 2 in The Liberating Leader at Work series. Read Part 1 here.)
I’ll start with one statement that I’m pretty sure is true, and another one that I’m absolutely sure is true.
- I’m pretty sure that leaders who know what it’s like to be on the other side of themselves are growing in their influence.
- But I’m absolutely sure that those who don’t know what it’s like to be on the other side of themselves are consistently undermining their leadership.
The Key to Liberation
At work, we know that’s true, because we’re surrounded by people who have hours each day to see, observe, and come to opinions about us. We probably have in mind someone who doesn’t quite “get it” when it comes to their inappropriate or unhelpful behavior. And even if they did get it they perhaps did what they could to avoid admitting it. One of my clients accurately said to me, “The key to self-liberation is self-understanding.” That’s absolutely true, too.
So we use a tool as a mirror, and as a conversation starter. The Know Yourself to Lead Yourself tool is an infinity loop. It means that, throughout our lives we should be on a journey of getting clearer and clearer about how we are and how we come across. Others see it, and if we see it, too, we broaden our influence. If we don’t see it, or are unwilling to see it, we undermine our influence.
“I’m glad I’m not that guy”
This past week I was thinking about someone who wasn’t self-aware. Internally I said, “I’m glad I’m not that guy”. But within a nano-second I started to laugh. I wondered if someone somewhere was having the same internal conversation, but the object of their focus was me. Whether I like it or not, sometimes I’m “that guy”. Increasingly, as I know myself to lead myself, I can look in the mirror and see what others see. The less time we spend masking ourselves the more time we have to be productive, human, approachable, and real.
Here’s one from Winston Churchill:
“Truth is incontrovertible. Panic may resent it; ignorance may deride it; malice may distort it; but there it is.”
So be asking yourself–and even ask others–“What’s it like to be on the other side of me?” You can take it, and you’ll grow in your influence at work.
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