Leadership and the Art of Seeing Another

A Mysterious Choice

I once had an eccentric boss.

Everyone liked the head receptionist, but after a year on the job, her work ethic began to disintegrate. She made too many personal phone calls. She forgot to deliver important messages. She frequently arrived late.

The boss called her into his office for a chat in which everyone, including her, thought she would be fired.

When she emerged, she had been promoted to office manager.

Needless to say, we were all a bit confused.

She was mightily relieved and overjoyed.

I See You


This sentimental phrase from the movie Avatar touched the hearts of millions:

“I see you.”

Before you cast it off as a cheesy, cinematic indication of romantic love, consider that actually “seeing” another person with more than your eyes — taking in their being, registering their strengths and weaknesses, tracking what makes them light up and what drives them — is an incredibly powerful leadership skill that can make a profound and lasting impact. Why?

The Gift of Sight

The desire to be seen for who we truly are  — whether it is unarticulated or conscious — is a driving force within most people. It fuels self-expression and creativity. Many people are removed from a clear sense of their own value and uniqueness, and it often requires another person to see it in order to bring it to life.

Do you know your gifts? How did you learn about them? Most often, it’s because another person spotted them first, and reflected your potential, and / or your impact on them. Through the act of witnessing what makes you unique, the other helps you own and step into it.

My boss was able to see the insight and skill the receptionist possessed.  He interpreted her lousy behavior as a result of how overqualified she was. He recognized her strengths and didn’t want to lose someone with those qualities. A risky leadership tactic like this doesn’t always pan out, but she was given a warning to never again allow her work ethic to slack so boldly, and she took her new role seriously. Every bit of her inappropriate behavior vanished, and she continued to stay with and move up in the company.

When you are able to see someone’s strengths, even beyond what they present, you are leading them to inhabit more of themselves. Whether you do this at work or with your loved ones, when you reflect someone’s potential, love, inherent talent or gifts, you invite them into a new experience of themselves.

You help them connect to their purpose in the world. And the world is better for it.

The ability to truly “see” another is a leadership and relationship skill that requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. If this is an area that you, your partner or your team could improve upon, do not hesitate to contact me for training opportunities that will increase productivity, performance and satisfaction. 

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