Two words that have been placed on every single millennial. Literally, everyone. Whether it applies to you or not, it’s been put on you as a millennial. It’s one of the top leadership questions I get from young leaders. “How do I change a label that was given to me?”
Often times it’s a generational label or a reputation based on your family or the area you grew up in. Many of us have had labels put on us. They quickly become our reputation. It can be our reputation because perceptions become reality. If you have a perception about you, you might as well assume it is on it’s way to becoming a reality unless you do something about it.
I remember having an opportunity to start a new organization from an existing one. I quickly realized after a month or two of observation that my team would have an expectation of how we acted, responded, etc. A reputation if you will. So I decided then and there that we were going to go out of our way to never allow that perception to become a reality. Matter of fact, we were not just going to be different, we would be intentionally opposite. And it worked. Big time. It completely changed the culture from day one and led to an amazing staff team.
I learned something there. I couldn’t ignore a reputation, ESPECIALLY IF I DIDN’T EARN IT. I had to deal with it and make a change. I learned there are four things required to change a reputation. So I thought I’d share them with you!
PAUSE: Before reading the following list, you need to think of 1 or 2 things you know have stayed apart of your reputation. It will help you a ton in this exercise.
You cannot change something you are not aware needs to change. Dang. This is why we have to start here. Blindspots. You’ll see that awareness is central to things you will learn in leadership. You have to be aware. You can’t change anything you don’t know needs changing!
Let some people into your life and then INVITE them to share some potential blindspots. This is a brutal exercise, but if you’ve invited people you trust into this circle, then you can trust they are doing this because they love you and care for you. Huge difference.
Until you stop acting like this doesn’t matter, then you will never make this change. You have to find and become aware of your reputation.
Stop denying you have a problem. Admit it. I know this sounds like some more serious issues, but you will never change ANYTHING until you accept that it is real.
I’ve taken two 360 evaluations. They were actually pretty good scores, but one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Basically letting specific people speak anonymously into my leadership. Brutally honest. The most important gift a 360 gives leaders is it breaks down you SELF-PERCEPTIONS and replaces them with real perceptions. I would’ve never accepted these blindspots until my self-perception was broken down because I heard similar feedback from multiple people and I had to accept it. Once I accepted it, I dug in so I could change it.
3. Get/Ask for Help
This seems to be the step that most of us skip. Go find someone who is NATURALLY wired towards the area that you are wanting to improve. I’m not going to go to a counselor to figure out how to take care of my lawn. I’m going to go to someone who KNOWS how to take care of it and it comes easy to them. If you’re like me and struggle with details, then go find someone who is uniquely wired to results and details and pick their brain. Learn from them. Ask questions.
We all agree that leaders are learners, make sure you’re learning from those who are good at what you want to change.
4. Go 2 Miles the Other Way
So this one doesn’t fit the normal flow of the first three. Listen, if your reputation only needed tweaks, you would’ve done it already. You literally have to go so far the other direction FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME! You have to take this serious and show others how serious you are taking it.
Look. As followers of Jesus, we have to always strive to grow and represent him to the best of our ability. Your reputation can indicate to others how much you have surrendered your life to Jesus. Are you doing everything in your power to adjust the negative perceptions of you?
What is it for you? Is it…
Time: Are you late often? Change it. Punctuality shows respect.
Trust: Have you managed the trust of your leaders well? Do you try to push every line you can?
Professionalism: Are you making your bosses say no to your request or are you thinking through your requests thoroughly? (Sometimes it DOES hurt to ask, especially if you’re putting your leader in a position to have to say no because you didn’t think through it well.)
Lazy: Don’t be. I can’t think of a worse reputation for a believer.
Leaders. Followers of Jesus. It’s not just our reputation on the line. It’s the Lord’s. When people know you’re a follower of Jesus, like it or not, your reputation can hurt His. Let’s give God our very best and grow and let our reputation give God glory.