- July 17, 2019
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, Management
Last week, I talked about my time at the Center for Creative Leadership in North Carolina. I attended with many military and government leaders who wanted to improve their own leadership skills. I learned a lot of valuable lessons there, including how to communicate, how to manage, and how to lead.
One important lesson I learned there was a. . . call it a self-awareness awakening. That was the realization that people don’t have to (and they don’t) see me the way I see myself or that I want to be seen.
That means that in order to be a more effective communicator, I have to empathize with my audience more than just trying to sell myself. I need to focus on what they want, not controlling their perception of my own image.
In other words, the best salespeople solve problems, not sell products.
Leaders make the fundamental error of telling rather than selling. They tell people what they want and why they want something done instead of showing people what the people will receive in benefit.
Bad leaders will often try to cudgel their ideas through, bullying and riding roughshod over their staff. Good leaders will get their staff to buy into their vision by demonstrating the benefits of their ideas.
How do you get people to see the real you? It starts with self-awareness.
The way many of us learned this idea was through the 360 degree assessment I mentioned last week, plus faculty feedback.
The way it works is that your seven fellow classmates will each do an assessment on you, just as you do an assessment on each of them. And it’s not just private to you: everyone in the class sees everyone’s feedback.
Some people get a big dose of humility — it can be eye-opening, to say the least — while other people are sitting back and chuckling at your self-awakening. At least until it’s their turn.
It can be pretty harsh, especially if you have a certain image in your mind of what you are and what you should be, and some people aren’t used to getting that strong dose of reality.
In the TV series, The Office, office manager Michael Scott’s greatest fear was to have a moment of self-awareness, that he would actually see himself the way everyone else saw him, and realize that the image he had of himself was not what everyone else saw. (And he was so unaware, he didn’t even know that was his fear.)
At the Center for Creative Leadership, you couldn’t escape it. You were going to be shown your true self, whether you wanted to see it or not. It may have only been a 5-day program, but you would come out of there with a whole different perspective on yourself, a whole new self-awareness, as well as on how you should communicate with others.
Which means another important lesson most of us learned is that we may spend our whole lives trying to fool people, but they could see straight through us all along.
As a result, it changed my communication. I learned to focus more on trying to listen to other people, hear their desires, understand their desires, and find the way to give them what they want, rather than focusing my own energies and attention into presenting that false image I wanted everyone else to see.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Jenna Hamra (Pexels, Creative Commons 0)