Growing up I had to share a bathroom with my mom. On the counter sat an oval vanity mirror. One side magnified my facial features and the other side reflected me the way I was used to seeing myself. The way I thought I should look. My mom used the magnifying side to be sure every detail of her air and makeup was in place. It gave a deeper impression than the standard side of the mirror. I looked in it from time to time and I found it revealed more of who I really was than the general impression I got from the other side. As an Executive Coach and Leadership Mentor, I’ve found there are also two sides to our leadership impact. Just like there were two sides to my Mom's mirror.
First, there is the impact we believe our business behaviors have on those we lead or interact with on a daily basis. What's business behavior? It's how we communicate with our words, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language as we are going about doing our daily work with others. It's how we set expectations for people who we need to help us get work done, and also our ability to follow through on commitments we make involving others. For the most part, we all have the intention of making a positive impact on those we lead. We want to do well for others and be our best for them.
Because of our desires to lead well, we often form an opinion of how we must be perceived by others that matches our understanding of "good leadership". We create a general image of who we are based on who we aspire to be, and we like it. So, that's the narrative we use when answering the question, "how well am I leading?". Emphasizing our intentions alone can lead us to a dangerous place. A place where we see our "wish we were" image and not the impact our current actions are having on others. This is where what most refer to as blind-spots originate.
Second, there is the reality of how our business behaviors actually affect those we lead and interact with on a daily basis. This is the magnified side of the mirror. It's here that our intentions meet the truth of what others experience as a result of our presence in their world. The ideal of course is that our intentions match up with the reality of how we behave in the business context. That's called integrity- integrating our intentions with our behaviors. You see, it’s the combination of both sides of the mirror that tells the truth. We need both our intentions and reality in order to grow.
We can't determine how much integrity we have between our words and our actions if we are only listening to our interpretation of "the facts". We have to do the hard work and ask those closest to us in our business how we are actually affecting them. And that's hard. I know it’s hard because I’ve been on the receiving end of a 360 evaluation where the truth of how my actions were impacting the team was revealed. You can read about that here.
It’s hard because a disconnection between our intentions and our actions creates problems in our leadership. If I tell you how much I value honesty as a leader and when you're honest with me I am consistently defensive in response, there is an issue! The less aware we are of our blind spots, the greater the chance we’re falling short of delivering on our intentions. No one likes to see disparity between their intentions and their actions. It often hurts. It makes us afraid. We run away from pain and we tend to fight what we fear. So, we never rotate the mirror to see the other side- we just gaze into the side that tells us what we hope is real. We decide it's safer to not know the truth. If you’ve already been made aware of your blind spots and you’re looking for help navigating through the process of changing you’re behaviors, I’m ready to come along side you. Register for your free strategy session here.
A lack of intentional action, once you know you have to change to be a more effective leader, is the genesis for stunting your leadership growth. It's the birthplace of complacency and it will prevent you from pushing forward toward achieving more of what you truly want- to be the best version of you as a leader. It doesn't have to be this way. You can face the fear and subdue the anger that may come when you face the disparity between your intentions and reality.
So, get with a trusted friend and tell them you want to rotate the mirror and see a deeper level of reality. Tell them you want to know how your business behavior is affecting those you work with on a daily basis and that you want to see the truth of how closely your behavior matches your intentions. Ask them to be a sounding board and a confidant as you walk through the process. Then, ask five people you work with on a daily basis these 3 questions:
W. Shane McKenzie is an executive coach who helps leaders achieve greater effectiveness and become more fulfilled in their work by facilitating positive changes in their leadership behaviors. Join the Leadership Transformation Roundtable to get your copy of the questionnaire I use to discover how close my intentions match the reality of those I lead.
What others are saying about W. Shane McKenzie
"I’ve worked with Shane for several years. He possesses a unique and highly effective combination of strategy, team leader and great communicator, a rare combination. He has a very strategic mind so he makes connections and sees disjointed paths where others do not. This allows him to both plot direction and execute the path to success. He’s truly committed to the greatness in others. He listens fully, asks the right questions at the right time, and gives us the space to both think and respond." - Linda Lindquist-Bishop, Strategic Facilitator, Speaker, Exit Planning for Business Owners, and World Champion Athlete
“Shane is a trusted peer whose advice I seek when faced with leadership challenges. He brings clarity to tough situations and has been an objective sounding board for over 14 years!” – Pamela Westbrooks, Vice President of Administration
W. Shane McKenzie is an Executive Coach and Mentor who specializes in helping successful leaders leave their job to own a business using proven strategies to minimize risk.