I always find it intriguing that someone else knows more about me than I do. Even on very simple things like my appearance. I would say nearly everyone I know has looked at my face more than I have. They know more about how my face moves and what my face does and perhaps, what my face reveals about my thoughts, than I do! Scary!
When it comes to my performance, it is just as true. I don’t think many people know my intention as well as I do, but they probably know the impact that I have had more than me. If someone was to help me grow, I would expect and need them to give me information that I can’t see. I would expect and hope they would give me clarity over things I don’t know.
When I help leaders and their teams, I certainly see that as my role. To help them see what is underneath the surface, what will give them clarity and therefore, direction. As a rule though we shy away from giving each other information about things we think the other person can’t see. We want to avoid hurting each other, annoying them, losing influence or losing connection. We worry that we ourselves may get targeted as a consequence or that we may end up saying the wrong thing. We worry about stepping over the line and as a rule we over identify with the emotional consequences of the information. “Better not tell her she has spinach in her teeth as she might not recover from the embarrassment and I can just ignore it for the next 20 minutes of our meeting, can’t I?” And that’s just spinach, what about the abrasive manner that Mary has when talking to her team, how do we feel about talking to her about it? Hmmm, maybe not, better just talk to Peter at lunch about it and Adrian in the corridor and bring it up in that meeting about succession plans etc etc.
How many things do you know about others that they don’t know?