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What is worse: To be a great leader and assess yourself poorly?
Or, to be a mediocre leader and assess yourself as “great”?
As leaders, we must have the skill to see and assess ourselves clearly and accurately, so that we may lead most effectively.
In today’s episode, Michel shares the story of an experiment where leaders were asked to assess themselves as leaders. While the results varied, the end result was very few assessed themselves accurately.
Just like looking through a cloudy lens, when we try to “see” ourselves through this blurred vision, we don’t see what’s really there. And as discussed in this episode, it’s better to uncover who you are intentionally, than to have your cover blown unintentionally.
Thank you for listening and sharing!
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In the winter of 2009 I facilitated a session in which leaders had to submit a final project for evaluation. As part of the project they had to self assess and assign themselves a score based on the rubric.
They shared how that was the most challenging part of the project and they really hated doing it. Anderson said it was so uncomfortable he would rather give up those points. He finds that he can readily assess others people’s work but struggles to assess his own
As part of my process, I would evaluate the project before looking at the self-assessment.
When I reviewed the self assessments,
I noticed that Anderson was part of the majority that submitted high-quality work and assessed it lower than it was worth
Others submitted poor quality work and gave it a higher score than was realistic
Only a few offered an assessment that matched the quality of the work submitted
I wondered which of these scenarios poses a bigger problem
Is it worse to do great work like Anderson and not know that your work is great
is it worse to do poor work and think that it is great
What do you think?
As leaders we are tasked with assessing other people and their output
Yet we struggle to assess ourselves and our personal outputs accurately
Question is: Would you want to be assessed by someone who cannot accurately assess themself?
If we cannot accurately assess ourselves, how can we be sure that our assessment of others is accurate?
And should they trust our assessment of them?
The prevalence of inaccurate self assessment is astounding, at times embarrassing and sometimes comical. This is even worse when it exists in us as leaders
Last week we talked about Resetting your confidence – this begins with self-awareness
and self awareness relies on accurate self assessment
You want to be aware of the right things
And you want to be right about what you are aware of
What is accurate self assessment?
Getting to know yourself fully exactly as you are.
Knowing your strengths, values, emotions, needs, weaknesses, triggers, capabilities and limits in different situations.
Accurate self-assessment happens through a process of exposure and experiences that uncover intentionally or inadvertently what lies beneath your skin.
It cannot be cultivated in a vacuum – you rely on personal reflection as much as feedback to provide that 360 view of yourself.
The clearer your lens the further you can see and the deeper you can understand yourself.
Much like when using a dirty mirror or glasses, the image you see is blurred, you can’t see all the details and you miss critical aspects.
That’s like my friend Sandra who put on her makeup on the train with a small mirror in her foundation kit that was cloudy from the smudge of foundation. When she got off the train she started wondering why everyone was looking at her. She got a lot more attention that day than usual.
It wasn’t until she got to the office and walked by a clear mirror that she noticed why she got all that attention. She had on a few extra layers of foundation that didn’t match with the business outfit she was wearing, not to mention that the eyeliner was not as close to her eyes as she usually gets it.
See with a clear mirror Sandra does a flawless job putting on her makeup. She has the skills but she needs clear lens to get the job done.
Likewise as leaders we may have the skills but we need a clear lens to execute at the level we are capable of.
The lens through which you measure yourself impacts your measurement of yourself so to start make sure you Know your lens
How do you tend to assess yourself? Favourably? Unfavourably? Accurately? Inaccurately?
Imagine if you have a scale that doesn’t measure accurately, you could still use it effectively if you know the extent to which it is inaccurate. Say if you have to put some weight on it to get it to zero – then as long as you account for that extra weight you can use the scale accurately
or if it gives a higher measurement and you know you have to deduct 5 from the total weight – then you can still use the inaccurate scale to get a fairly accurate measurement. The ideal situation is to fix the scale so that it produces an accurate measurement, but until then, you can make adjustments with the one you have.
The problem is if you are using the scale and don’t realize that it is flawed. Whatever measurement you get, you assume it is accurate when it could be over or under the actual measurement. If the instrument is inaccurate and you don’t know it, the measurement will be inaccurate – and you will go about your business not knowing this.
Likewise when you think about your self-assessment style – it’s important to know if it is accurate or flawed. Ideally you want to have an accurate lens when measuring yourself. But if you don’t – it’s important that you know that you don’t. Once you know you can make the necessary adjustments. The worse scenario is to be using a flawed lens and thinking it is accurate.
You know those leaders who think they’ve got it, or they can do it or they are it? You know them. Meanwhile you are looking on and listening wondering how do you get to that place where you can see yourself – and you make a mockery of the situation. Your people laugh at you, they don’t take you seriously and you quickly lose credibility and effectiveness.
Haven’t you seen this over and over, where you have to gasp, cover your mouth, laugh inside or laugh out loud because someone was so far off base from the reality of who they are?
What about the person who is absolutely competent and sits back lacks confidence, is afraid, unwilling to do what they are capable of doing? This person could hold the keys to solving some of our major problems but won’t step forward.
Earlier I asked which you thought was a bigger problem:
to do great work and not know that your work is great
to do poor work and think that it is great?
I know you have many of these stories that demonstrate challenges with self-assessment. Share your stories with us at shareyourstories.com
Now more than ever, leaders need to know the accuracy of the lens they use to measure themselves. If your lenses are inaccurate and you don’t know, the risk is too great for you or any organization to undertake.
Accurate self assessment is the clear lens sees through the surface, deep into the uncomfortable zones that you cover up and hide so securely that even you forget they are there.
You then have the opportunity to uncover hidden aspects of yourself.
If you are thinking why would I want to do that? You are better off to uncover what is hidden about you intentionally so you may effectively navigate these new spaces with a true understanding of who you actually are – in earnest
Alternatively, you risk having your cover blown when you least expect it, when people are in your blindspot seeing you – seeing what is hidden about you, and you don’t know they are there
This is why we hear so much of I am sorry, it was not my intention, I didn’t mean harm, I misspoke, I had a misstep, I was misinformed, I misread, I misunderstood.
That’s the fallout when others hold a clear mirror to you, which you have never done yourself – and you are shocked at what you see. You don’t know that person, you are embarrassed, ashamed and disappointed.
So the goal is not to cover, but rather to uncover and then to work with others to discover
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