Everyone is about to move from the reception to the big business dinner. You are walking with some friends and colleagues, following the crowd as you pass the restrooms. Just ahead of you is one of the executives walking as confidently as they normally do, because they can’t see what you see – that they have a too-long-not-to-be-noticed trail of toilet paper stuck to their left shoe.
Some people are laughing and pointing. Some are feeling sorry for the unknowing executive and some are trying to decide if they should tell them or not. It is likely they remain quiet – as that is the easier and lower risk course of action.
We’ve all been there.
And it isn’t just about toilet paper, is it?
There are things that we don’t know, that, because we don’t know we can’t change or address. There are things in our leadership lives that are much like the toilet paper – unknown to us – yet seen and known by others. And as embarrassing as the toilet paper is, there are far more important and uncomfortable things you might not know about . . .
And we don’t know for the same reasons people didn’t tell the executive at the reception – some honestly caring, but not knowing what to say, after all, you are the boss; some taking a bit of glee in the humor of the situation; and some who remain quiet because the assume you will “figure it out” or that you must already know about it . . .
But as long as you don’t know, you can’t do anything about it, can you?
And the problem is bigger and riskier as a leader because, whether we like it or not, everyone is always watching us, noticing us, and our strengths and weaknesses have a huge impact our ability to help them succeed.
So when we lack awareness and the confidence we can build from it we are hurt but so is our team.
People don’t usually talk about this at business dinners or planning meetings – but for a variety of reasons your lack of awareness of how you operate could be the biggest barrier to your confidence and success.
It is easier to build your confidence and avoid the embarrassment of the unknown, once you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses, from the perspective of others. After all, as a leader, at some level their perception matters more than reality and if you don’t know what their perceptions are, and if there isn’t a safe way for them to tell you, you might be toting some toilet paper on your shoe for a long time.
So what are the two keys I promised in the title? What are the two things that will help you become more aware so you can avoid the uncertainty of the unknown (and previously unknowable)?
360 Assessments and Coaching
I’m a big believer in both of these and there are lots of reasons people will talk about why they are helpful. Increasing your confidence isn’t usually on the list of benefits people discuss, but it might be the most important of all.
Because we all know that when we are more confident at anything we perform better. That is true at anything from baking a cake, to giving a presentation, to shooting pool, to being a leader.
You might not have a glaring, far-worse-than-toilet-paper-on-your-shoe flaw or weakness, and yet until you ask, until you have a way to get some feedback, you will never know.
If you are looking to build your confidence and reduce your worry and anxiety about blind spots, especially as a coach, we can help. Find out more about our Coaching with Confidence workshop and what it can do for you.