By Michael Gunther
The adage “perception is reality” actually may not be correct. I have discovered that a leader’s ‘perception’ is not necessarily the reality from their teams’ perspective. Most leaders truly want to be great at inspiring and directing their team to accomplish the outlined goals. The truly effective leaders realize that they need to be consistently growing to develop a solid, high-performing team. Yet, most leaders are not pushing their own knowledge boundaries enough. This, in my mind, makes leadership one of the most rewarding, yet challenging, roles one could have in life.
My belief is that you never become an ‘ideal’ leader. Instead, it is a continuous journey of assessing, learning, evolving and shifting strategies, skills and processes to adjust to the ever-changing workplace demands. What worked yesterday may not work today. If you are not constantly questioning what is or isn’t working with your team, you are probably losing your edge – I call this the ‘slow spiral downward to irrelevance.’
A unique leader is one who is willing to challenge their status quo or belief system. I realize this is easy to say, and I believe it is difficult for most leaders to constantly evaluate themselves.
I know through my own experience of using the Collaboration Assessment (a tool that compares your perception to your team’s perception on how well you are building a high-performing team) that receiving feedback is critical. Emotionally, this feedback is sometimes hard to hear. At the same time, I have found it extremely valuable that my team has taken the time to provide insight on our alignment of perception and our team’s effectiveness. Putting my ego aside, this tool has allowed me to fine-tune areas of my own leadership style and develop a much stronger team.
The other value of performing ongoing assessments is that things can change rapidly within a team dynamic. Team members come and go, which can have an impact on a team’s performance. New challenges or opportunities can shift the organizational focus, which may also influence the team’s ability to collaborate. I have learned that by constantly receiving a pulse on the interactions of my team and my role, we have been able to enhance our communication and focus on building impactful collaboration.
When was the last time you analyzed your perception of how well you are doing in building a collaborative and effective team? Are you sure your perception is the reality? My hunch is that you may be surprised: you are probably missing some key elements that may be holding you back from being a better leader. Maybe it is time for check-up.