This question has come up in several conversations over the last few days, prompted perhaps by the growing discussion about how we should all be actively managing the impression we create online.
While the whole idea of ‘personal brand’ will turn some people’s stomachs (“what, you mean I should be marketing myself like some commodity?”) there is an aspect of it that is valuable to just about all of us, whether we have an active online presence or not. The truth is that reputations are not fixed – they are always growing or decaying. And for those of us whose success depends to any degree on the effect we have on others, it’s good at least to have some understanding of how we are coming across!
So do you really know how you come across to others? Almost all human behaviour creates some kind of impression, either positive or negative. A surprisingly small amount is neutral in its impact. As part of the coaching I provide to leaders and managers, I frequently get the opportunity to speak to their colleagues about their experience of the individual. In the hundred such conversations I’ve had in the last couple of years, every single provider of feedback has been able, with help from the questions asked, to give richly textured, specific and balanced insights. It’s just amazed me how much data is out there – if only we were brave enough to ask!
So what can you do to find out how you come across? Assuming you don’t have a coach on hand to gather the data and to offer their own observations, why not simply invite a few colleagues to answer a set of questions such as these:
1. How have you experienced me to be effective?
2. How have you found me to be less effective?
3. What do you enjoy about working with me?
4. What would you recommend to me to do differently?
The very fact that you ask for such feedback will have an impact on how you are perceived – a positive one, provided you ask with good intent and a receptive attitude!