If one follows the saying, don’t pay heed to what people say behind your back, there is a high chance for you to impede your professional development. Although it is counter-intuitive, selective attention to what others say can also help build group dynamics.

Research suggests that for holistic leadership development, you need to have two types of self-awarenesses: internal and external. Firstly, the internal awareness helps you determine how well your value system, aspirations and expectation fits with the external environment. Secondly, the external awareness is how you perceive other people’s opinion of the same value system, aspiration and expectations of yours. Leaders who exhibit both types of awareness have proven to be better at performing in the workplace, building relationships, making tuff decisions and communicating effectively. Thus, there is a need to know what others think of you.

Why the need for a double-self awareness?

Having only internal awareness could lead to a bubble where you build your leadership style that would neither be sustainable in the long run nor with different teams. At the same time, paying too much attention to what others say of you could lead to a loss in original thinking.

Hence we need to find a balance, and is it easier said than done?

Doing an internal self-awareness is pretty straightforward, and there are plenty of tools and frameworks that can guide us in doing so. On the other hand, an external self-awareness needs the good-old way of sharing feedback in an honest conversation. Such conversations can prove to be way more effective than methods like anonymous feedback.

External self-awareness through honest feedback can very awkward at the start. Especially, in situations where you have to share feedback with your boss or someone elder to you can be awkward.

There might be a guide to help in the process of finding a balance

Trust is the underpinning factor that guides the process, and it can be the underpinning factor that would ease the process of sharing honest feedback. The first step is to lay the foundation for developing trust. I asked for help in developing a skillset from my teammate because I know for a fact that she is better at it and it would beneficial for me. Accepting the fact that you need someone else’s help because you think that person is better at is not a sign of weakness. It sends out a message that tells “I am willing to listen to you on how I should improve myself”.

The second step would involve building the trust by showing commitment to acting on the suggestions. I set myself a goal on improving this skill set and created a series of milestones to help me guide along the way. I then showed her the progress I made, and this signifies my willingness to act on the suggestions provided.

So with a developed trust with you team, a holistic leadership development is now possible. So, in the end, it does help when you pay attention to what others think of you.

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