Do you have a good or bad image?

Many people, especially politicians, often lose their supporters and friends, owing to a lack of integrity and the use of double standards. The image of who you think they are and the qualities in them that you respect can be lost very quickly. Such misdemeanours as fraudulent expense claims or corrupt dealing can demolish trust and devalue status in just 24 hours. As a consequence, press reports, malicious gossip and party politics can make us confused and unsure, not only about our politicians, but also our colleagues and friends. Trust is a very delicate plant that grows only slowly and in an optimum environment.

Bearing this mind, how do you think you are seen by the people who work with you, or for you? Are you seen as an honest broker or as someone who cannot be trusted? Are you a man or woman of integrity whom your team will support in difficult circumstances? There is nothing more important than respect, trust and a ‘good name'. If your word is your bond and your handshake means a firm commitment, then you will go far. But when trust is broken, relationships fail and everything changes — at work and at home. Trust can take years to build but just minutes to break.

People survey

So how do we ensure these important personal values are maintained. We know that management cannot always be completely open about company strategy even with their own team, as much as they would like to be. There may, for instance, be decisions regarding impending redundancies which they are unable to share with their team, or other commercially sensitive information that has to be kept confidential.

Most employees appreciate the difference between confidentiality and dishonesty, and between transparent business dealings and questionable practices; and in this context, it would be interesting for your team to answer a questionnaire, anonymously, as to how they see you as their team leader. We often see stress surveys but how about a ‘people survey'. How are you seen not only by your own team but by your boss and the rest of the company? Now that would certainly be an interesting piece of information, and you may or may not be surprised by the results. However, it is more than likely you may see some comment that will help you not only to see yourself as others see you, but to perhaps modify your inter-personal skills in order to better interact with your team and to grow the business — which, as we know, is all about people.

You may also want to ask your family and friends the same question directly. Do they find you easy to get on with, co-operative and good to talk to or do they find you difficult? Now that might be a challenging exercise! How we are seen by others can be quite enlightening and give us much ‘food for thought.' But more than that, it may give us the opportunity to take some remedial action.

Key words

How we are seen by others is not necessarily how we would like to be seen. Our perception of ourselves is not necessarily the same as how others see us. If you want to get ‘buy- in' from your team, or from your family, then you need to know they are on your side and not ‘off side' and that means knowing yourself as others know you. Remember that time you saw a photograph of yourself and demanded it be torn up because the person in it didn't look like you at all? Well, it probably did look exactly like you, as others see you — only it didn't match the image that you have of yourself.

Trust, honesty, respect and dignity. Use these words and see where they take you. There may be valuable personal learning in knowing how others see you — learning that could change your entire career prospects. Maybe the way you speak, the words you use, the attitude you project, or maybe even the way you dress. It's an exercise in holding a mirror up to yourself to see the image that others see. Isn't that an interesting thought?

Key Points

  • Integrity and trust in dealing with others is vital
  • Try finding out what others really think of you
  • Small changes in attitude could be worth millions

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies -