Most of the people I have led through the years were totally committed, hard-working, and exceptionally bright. But that’s not how they usually saw themselves.

Maybe this is because of our educational system with its relentless focus on where students are weak or missing the mark. Or maybe it is the mass media with the emphasis on superstar athletes, actors, and musicians.

What if our job as leaders was, in part, to help our people see themselves for who they truly are. This starts by noticing and affirming their strengths, talents, and positive performance.

They’re better than they think. Our job is to help them see that and tap into it.

Question: What would changing their view of themselves make possible? Share your answer on , , or .

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33 thoughts on “Great Leaders Help People See Themselves as They Are

  1. Interesting clip. I have a feeling, though, that different people view me very differently. There seems to exist no monolithic “others” in a sense of how other people see me versus how I see myself. Some people perceive me as obnoxious, others as smart, funny, and insightful.

    How someone else sees us might say just as much—or more—about that person than it says about us. (“We don’t see others as they are. We see others as we are.”)

    In fact, when it comes to physical features, I see myself very differently under different lighting conditions and depending on the angle from which a particular photograph was taken or from which I view myself in the mirror. And so I can go from perceiving myself as an extremely handsome young man to an aging cro-magnon just by viewing myself in the kitchen mirror as opposed to the bathroom mirror, not to mention how I rate my looks on different photos. Whether or not I would describe myself of having crows feet or not, for instance, literally depends on where the light’s coming from in a given moment.

    In short, the only way I would describe myself is “it depends.”

  2. I agree good leaders help people to see where there strengths are and which areas they can and should develop – and I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from great leadership.

    It’s critical therefore, I think, that they too have a clear picture of their strengths as well as where they fall short. There is evidence that there is a gap between how leaders and managers view their leadership capabilities and how those around them view them.

  3. Many of the ladies I’ve been around don’t view themselves as worth listening too. They have stories to share, and those around them can see their stories, but to them they are just not personally valuable enough to be shared.

    It took me seeing my value in Christ to be able to see that I had value at all, and that denying I had value was denying the importance of what Christ did for me on the Cross.

  4. I teach mass media and have an eight-year old daughter. “Killing Us Softly” is a series that really points out the problems with the media and body image. I’ve also noted that my daughter gets much more negative feedback in public school than she did in Montessori School as a preschooler and kindergartner.. I already see society setting her up for self-doubt and low self-esteem. Because I have studied much about media and some child psychology I am more armed to help her through the struggles she’ll face. Thanks for posting this. It’s an important issue in today’s complex world.

  5. Dan Sullivan says that CONFIDENCE is the most important component necessary to have a positive self esteem. I feel our role as leaders in our Tribe is to recognize the strengths, talents and capabilities in others. I do not want to sound self serving, but it is amazing the energy I get when I do lift others up to see their personal CONFIDENCE and feel good about their choices and decisions.

    Great Blog Post!

  6. I actually wrote about this yesterday (it’s today’s blog post: How to Be Creative: Most people could exhibit extraordinary creativity if they would view themselves as creative. Sadly, too many of us trust experts for feedback. The more expertise people have, the more determined they are to prove that nothing they didn’t think of fits into their frames of reference.

  7. Michael;
    I believe the call on my life is to help women see themselves as the women God created them to be and help them let go of their false beliefs. Having spent 30 years in the beauty, fashion and retail industries, I find this to be a challenge because change is difficult. It requires effort and commitment, something that many women don’t want to put in even though they want to be different/better/acceptable/worthy. Many that I have worked with want a quick fix.

    Another challenge I have encountered is that some women don’t believe they are worthy, acceptable or just plain good enough for better or greater. They are afraid to embrace who God created them to be because they may no longer “fit in” or the truth is so powerful that it frightens them.

    What God has been teaching and reminding me is that we must no longer “conform to the pattern of this world.” We must continually renew our minds and believe and embrace what He says about us because that is the truth. We were never made to “fit in.”

    The challenge for us change agents/pioneers is to not grow faint in edifying and encouraging people to grow and see with new eyes the truth of who they are. Our faith, continued belief and strength must rest in the Lord knowing that He can transform and do “exceeding abundantly above all we could ask or imagine.”


  8. As a senior member of the flying community, I get a lot of requests from up and coming pilots to “ride along” to get some experience. I remember how hard that was, so I try to help where I can.

    Most of them have the skills, but many lack the confidence–which is a huge factor in flying an airplane. It’s not a place for timidity. So while I encourage their strengths and point out their weaknesses, I see my major role as a confidence builder.

    Then I have to go home, stand in front of a mirror, and repeat the same lesson to myself with respect to writing. I’d like to be a writer for my final career. In many respects, it’s harder than flying.

    I think I have the skills, but there are many days I lack confidence. So I must remind myself that the best way to build the confidence is to keep “putting it on the runway.” I need to keep putting it on the page–and building my platform (which is why I joined Platform University).

    Many thanks, Michael, for your help in these areas–and helping us see ourselves in a different light. You’d probably make a good flight instructor. :)

  9. Seeing yourself for who you truly are is incredibly freeing.

    For me, coming to terms with who I am, I found the ability to actually say “no” extremely valuable. Many times opportunities would come up that I felt an obligation to accept for any number of reasons, but these things went against who I was- not in any moral sense, but in the sense of being outside of my strengths, or even likes. I was able to do things, even well, but I loathed doing them.

    Being able to say no feed me up to do those things I truly DO like doing on a more regular basis.

    • Great point, Steve! Everytime we say “yes” to something outside our strength zone, we’re saying “no” to something within our strength zone.

    • I can agree with that, Steve. Sometimes who we are is very discouraging…but more important is who we are in Christ…that is when we can be better and feel better, even when we see the ugly.

  10. I’m still thankful Disney taught us to wish upon a star.

    I underestimated the power of self-confidence until I got in a slump.

    It’s amazing how our own mindsets can help us spiral up or spiral down.

    While image might not be everything, self-image really shapes what we’re capable of. What did Henry Ford say to this? … ““Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

    Of course, there’s nothing more powerful than somebody in your corner who sees what you’re capable of, and helps you bring it out.

    In Tactics: The Art and Science of Success, Edward de Bono pointed out how much success is often about finding your catalyst — the Abbott to your Costello — the Robin to your Batman, etc. But he also pointed out the value of great mentors that help lift you up in life.

    The ultimate formula comes down to the right mentors, the right arena, and ultimately … the right mindset (it shapes our inner game, and outer results.)

  11. It seems often people trade confidence in who they really are with who they think they should be. It is easy to get caught in this trap as we watch others around us succeed. A leader can have tremendous influence in helping their people identify and be confident in their own unique personality and gifts and the value it brings to others.

  12. Great post Michael! The Dove videos are powerful and very interesting!

    I believe changing their view of themselves will take the limits off what they can accomplish. Leaders do have that responsibility. It is an important part of a leader’s job.

    Your post inspired me to write on my blog about the responsibility a husband has in making his wife aware of her beauty. Doing so can, and will, change the dynamic of the relationship and the family.

    The link to my post is here:

    Thanks for the post and the inspiration!

  13. I found Strengths Finders to be very helpful, in discovering just that, my strengths. I find it easy to become discouraged when I am not sure what I’m good at. Everyone is like that. We want to know that we are making a difference and an impact on others.

    We can do both of those the best when we are operating in our strengths.

  14. As a speaker, I have been encouraged over the years to view video of my performances. At first, this was very difficult. I didn’t like the way I looked. I had a number of mannerisms that I didn’t realize, and I sounded completely different than I perceived myself.

    Over time, video has become easier. It has helped me better connect with my audience. I actually like to shoot video now in black and white. It seems to bring out the real person better, whether I’m shooting myself or others.

    I love to create a personal montage when I shoot an event like a wedding or party. Capturing the real moments, instead of the posed ones. Monochrome brings out the feelings and the emotions, just like the sketches in the video. A powerful way to capture who we really are.

    • I use to record myself also when I did speeches. It was very awkward to watch and I didn’t like it, but I noticed things about myself which helped me improve the next time around. And, surprisingly, some of my wording and movements I thought were “on point” were nothing but. How we see ourselves is important, and seeing ourselves correctly (or in a different lense) can only push us forward if we allow it to.

  15. Michael, truly profound. I agree with other followers that Christ should be our benchmark. Beauty based on marketing and what the world tells us is false. As leaders and as PARENTS we must encourage what good/great looks like through our own actions and find and share opportunities to grow those who look to us for guidance.

  16. Holy cow, I shared that video last week, commenting that I didn’t want to get involved in a conversation about body image, but I thought it was a great example of marketing. It just hit me that while I don’t think much about body image, this totally applies to my own competence-image or leadership-image. Landed.

  17. Extremely poignant! I do not have many days like today wherein I was feeling somewhat down over some relational things going on in my world. The clip spoke to me not only in terms of how I might view myself or as others see me, but more importantly how God sees me. I AM MADE IN HIS IMAGE and there is much for which to be thankful. Let’s just say watching this short piece played a huge part in snapping me out of the funk I have been in most of the day….thanks for the visual!

  18. I came across this post as I am researching for a message I’m delivering tomorrow and I liked what you said that great leaders “help our people see themselves for who they truly are.”

    I heard from a certain person, I can’t remember whom, expressed it in a slightly different way but I liked the sound of it much better =)
    “A great leader will see others better than they see themselves.”

    I am typically an encouraging person and I like to lift people up. However, honestly speaking, this is probably easy to do when the people you face are the positive type and ‘accepting’.

    Then there are those who seemed to make it their life commitment to see themselves as ‘trash of the society’ (harsh words). I am saddened whenever I looked at how they see and treat themselves. Whenever I tried telling them how much they could become and how much potential they store, these people laughed it off, and my words just seemed to vanish into thin air.

    Have you experienced such a situation and how did you deal with it?

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