Mirror, Mirror…why we have to look at ourselves first before trying to change our employees.

snow white magic mirrorThe Wicked Queen always consulted her Magic Mirror before starting her day. She needed to know she was the person she wanted to be before reining over the kingdom. While, of course, this is a very superficial example, not to mention a fairy tale, it does drive home a particular point. You need to look at yourself first and make sure you are the person you want to be before you can ask for changes in others (…something about the pot calling the kettle black.)

My fascination never ceases when I see executives and managers who expect others to do what they can’t or won’t do. What kind of message are you sending? One of the most difficult things to do- yet the most life altering- is to take a good hard look at ourselves and make changes to things that don’t meet the standard of who we want to be.

Unfortunately, like the Wicked Queen, that means consulting people who see us for who we are as opposed to who we think we are (or want others to think we are). Sometimes, those messages can break our hearts. Nonetheless, if we want to make real and substantial changes we have to ask the difficult questions and prepare ourselves for difficult answers. Like the Queen, we have to ask those questions of individuals who are compelled to tell the truth no matter what. Interesting that managers always want to ask their “yes men” these questions. It certainly ensures they get the answers they want to hear and can continue on their happy little path blind to reality-but that’s not gonna help, Folks! Ask the questions anonymously if necessary to get the real answers (people, in their attempt to keep their jobs, often avoid telling their bosses their honest opinion- go figure!)

It was easy for the Queen to blame Snow White for her shortcomings just as it is easy for us to blame others for ours. But with a little reflection, we can work on our areas of opportunity so that one day we will hear, “You are the fairest one of all!”

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