Leadership Tactic #76: Know Who Others Think You Are

A line jumped off the pages of the July/August edition of Inc. Magazine. It was written by Bob Sutton, a leadership expert, when asked if there is a single trait that every leader should possess:

The ability to understand how you come across to others.


How many times have you met someone who clearly had no idea how loud, annoying, aggressive, smelly, overdressed, greasy, etc they are? Or on the flip side, someone is completely unaware of how beloved they are, how lusted after they are, or brilliant they are?

I think it’s our personal responsibility to understand how we come across to others. You may have the best intentions in the world, but if you continually offend people or push them away, you’re disrupting human connection.

What do other people see when they look at you? How do you come across in conversation? In e-mails?

E-mail in particular is a really tough medium for managing how you come across to others. I learned this the hard way countless times at my old job, and even sometimes at my current job. I think it’s natural for Thinkers (opposed to Feelers on the Myers-Briggs spectrum) to just say the facts, blunt and obvious. But that isn’t always the best way to communicate if we want someone to hear what we’re saying. In fact, when sending really sensitive (but necessary) e-mails now, I often have Feeler coworkers review the e-mail before I send it.

Have you ever come across differently than you intended? Have you ever had an epiphany regarding the way people perceive you?