Reading an article concerning ‘what younger managers should know about how they are perceived’ got me to thinking about self perception. The article described older managers as ‘seasoned veterans’ (which they defined as over 45 years of age) and ‘young leaders’ of 30 years of age or less. I’m wondering where that leaves the ‘inbetweeners’ and have concluded that is where self-perception comes in to play.
For some people their lives are governed by their age (when they can take it easy or retire); for others age is nothing but a number (each year signifying a longer life). I definitely fall into the latter category; with every year older presenting me with an opportunity to break new ground.
In business I come across some people whose self perception is well developed; they are aware of their strengths and limitations and own them. Nevertheless, our self perception might not match the view held by others. For example, I see myself as thorough; others might see me as a demanding client!
Having to deal with someone who isn’t self-aware is extra challenging; particularly if they are in a management role and even worse if they happen to be your boss! Without realising it, they can sap motivation, reduce productivity and generally bring the place down.
My challenge to you though is this: how accurate is your perception of them? Check your point of view with a trusted colleague. Someone outside the situation can give you a fresh perspective and may be able to offer helpful suggestions for how to handle difficult conversations.
You cannot tell someone who is not self-aware that they need to become more self-aware – for obvious reasons. This is better framed by asking for their help to deliver on business objectives and in being specific about what you need from them.
Research by the authors of the above-mentioned article found that young leaders are extremely open to feedback; whereas older leaders tend to be less willing to ask for and respond to feedback from colleagues.
Enough to make us all want to become more self-aware; if only so as not to be thought of as old!