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The Outside-In View of You

Sense of Self is Typically Inside-Out

As individuals, we have the advantage of knowing what we’re thinking, what motivates us, the history that has contributed to our judgment and style and the intent of our actions. When disappointments arise, we seek to understand why by combing through our own inside-out view of ourselves and our accomplishments. We look from the inside with inherent “inside” knowledge, out to what decision makers must be considering. Our views of ourselves are often biased by the additional “inside” information we have by being both the affected and interested parties.

So much of our professional self-valuation is based on our own perception of self and confidence it instills – our knowing why we do what we do (intent) and the habits of our interaction, communication and leadership styles.

Regardless of Intent, Perception Influences Decisions

In reality, as leaders, we routinely subconsciously assess (judge) other employees to value their accomplishments, identify strengths, recognize shortcomings and validate their authenticity. We use our “outside-in” view – that is the view of someone else as we look from the outside, in at them – to determine performance, potential and recognition/reward. This often involves filling in the gaps of inside information (educated guessing) that we lack, coming from being on the outside of an employee’s personal motivations, values and experiences.

In business, leaders are selected for special projects, presentations, additional responsibilities and promotions based on how they and their accomplishments are perceived. As leaders, we use perception to make our own decisions, and similarly leaders around us are doing the same when it comes to us and our success.

You Are Being Judged – Everyday

So, if perception is so instrumental in decisions about our success, are leaders actively and authentically managing those perceptions? Everyday? A few key points to remember:

  • Feedback is Key: In past posts, we’ve discussed the gift of feedback and the value of understanding how we are perceived. Similarly, we’ve explored the importance of routinely delivering feedback to help others succeed. Do you know how you are perceived by key stakeholders in your success?

  • Authenticity Matters: All of us can recall people we’ve encountered in our career who deftly navigate company politics and are rewarded with success despite being disingenuous and inauthentic. Are you perceived as authentic? Real? Sincere?

  • Conscious Engagement: Do you know what attributes key decision makers value as they assess talent for advancement or additional responsibilities? Do they align with your values? Are you deliberate to show up as the “you” you want “them” to see? Everyday? Or do you let your guard down in longstanding relationships or with your direct reports?

  • Leadership Data: Do you know how you measure up against those key attributes? In normal day-to-day business? Under stress? Do you understand attributes that generally ensure success of executive leaders based on leadership data science, how you compare and how you can adjust your style? Given that many successful leaders find it difficult to provide candid, actionable feedback and coach others, have you leveraged rich leadership data science to understand how you objectively compare to millions of leaders around the world and what refinements to your style could accelerate your career?

  • Business is Business: While interacting with people, even in business settings, establishes friendships over time, business is still business – managers are expected to put the needs of the business first and remain objective about performance even where friendships exist. So, while interactions with key stakeholders may feel familiar or casual given underlying relationships and historical interactions, don’t get too comfortable. Remember that managers, leaders and other key stakeholders are watching; they are assessing you, your style and your performance in all interactions and their perceptions will determine your ultimate success and any opportunities that my lie ahead.

Manage the Outside-In View of You

Despite business impact and accomplishments or being valued by your staff, your professional opportunity and ultimately your business success is determined by how others view you. (Period.)

To manage your reputation, or the outside-in view of you, you must:

  1. Know how you’re perceived

  2. Understand behaviors that determine how you’re perceived

  3. Understand behaviors of successful executives and how you compare

  4. Know what to do about your behaviors – understand which to dial up, when and how; and understand which to dial down, when and how

  5. Make it a habit to be authentic and show up as the “you” you want them to see…every day

Mind the Gap: You Do You

To be clear, reputation and perception are instrumental in influencing your career, but you must stay true to you. That is, true professional success relies not only on workplace accomplishment, but also on success achieved based on a foundation of personal authenticity consistent with your own values. Understanding the gap between how you are and want to be perceived, affords you the opportunity to adjust your style within your own compass to correct misperceptions.

Get the Outside-In View of You

So, to get started, reach out to your HR Business Partner or an Executive Coach to get a Leadership Assessment. There are many different assessment instruments with varied approaches and scientific rigor. At M33, we are certified in a leading worldwide instrument used by over half of Fortune 500 companies. For a small investment of time and money, you can quickly learn the outside-in view of you. And with that knowledge and insight, you form the foundation to take action – to manage your reputation, career and ultimately your own success while remaining true to yourself.

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Lisa Andrade is founder and CEO of M33, an executive coaching and leadership development company proven in both the “executive” and “coaching” in executive coaching. M33 leverages the art of leadership and advanced leadership science to create an executive blueprint tailored to you and your organization. For an initial consultation with Lisa, contact M33 at

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