Unlocking Your Leadership Puzzle: Celebrate Your Distinctive Role and Create a Powerful Legacy

Every leader navigates the fine line between their intentions and the perceptions of those they lead.

In the bustling environment of tech and engineering, where precision meets relentless innovation, this balance is particularly delicate. I’ve witnessed firsthand how an unrecognized gap in self-awareness can subtly undermine even the most competent leaders.

Imagine walking into the sprawling, open-plan office of a bustling tech startup. The whirr of cooling fans blends with the click-clack of keyboards—a symphony of progress.

Here, we find Jacob, the CTO, a visionary with an inclination for cutting-edge technologies. His desk, littered with gadgets and papers, sits like an island in the middle of this sea of activity.

Jacob’s intention is clear: drive the team towards unprecedented innovations. He pushes his team hard, believing that pressure forges diamonds.

However, unknown to him, his team perceives his urgency and passion as relentless pressure, which muddies their enthusiasm and creativity.

The Incident

It was during a routine project review on a grey Wednesday afternoon that the impact of this disconnect became glaringly apparent.

The air was thick, laced with the scent of brewing coffee and the ozone smell of overheating electronics. Jacob, enthusiastic, detailed the next phases of the project, his eyes gleaming with the thrill of challenge. Yet, around him, shoulders slumped, eyes averted.

“Let’s push harder,” he urged, mistaking the team’s fatigue for idle disengagement.

Later, during a one-on-one, a brave engineer voiced what others hadn’t: “Jacob, we’re burning out. We need to breathe.”

Jacob was taken aback. His mind raced—his intentions were to motivate, not demoralize. Here lay the critical revelation:

There is a difference between intention and perception.

You may have the best intentions, but others might perceive them in a very different way. And what I have learned is that our perception defines our reality.

The Reflection

This incident led Jacob to a vital self-reflection, a journey I often guide leaders through. Jacob’s narrative is common in high-stakes environments where the pressure to innovate can blur the lines between driving for results and driving people too hard.

The gap between Jacob’s intentions and his team’s perceptions was not just a misunderstanding but a mirror reflecting the deeper issue of self-awareness—or the lack thereof.

The Lesson

For leaders like Jacob and perhaps you, acknowledging this gap is the first step towards bridging it. It’s about understanding that your reality isn’t the only one that exists.

I often tell my clients,

“To lead effectively, you must first understand the landscape—not just the physical, but the emotional and perceptual landscapes of your team.”

The Way Forward

How do we start to close this gap?

It begins with fostering an environment where open, honest feedback is not just encouraged but is a cornerstone of the culture. Implementing regular check-ins that go beyond project updates to gauge team morale and individual well-being is crucial.

Moreover, leaders must engage in self-reflection actively. Tools like the Maxwell Communication Impact Assessment provide valuable insights into how your communication is perceived and the effect it has on others. This tool isn’t just an assessment; it’s a mirror to show you what others see and feel in your presence.

The Invitation

I invite you, as a leader in the tech and engineering sectors, to take a moment to reflect.

Consider the last interaction you had with your team. Was there a gap between what you intended and how it was perceived? How might this gap be influencing the effectiveness of your leadership?

Take the first step on your journey of enhanced self-awareness. Engage with the Maxwell Communication Impact Assessment. It’s designed to help leaders like you understand not just how you communicate, but how your communication molds the environment and culture of your team.


Bridging the gap between intention and perception is not just about adjusting your actions but aligning your self-perception with external realities.

As leaders, our growth is never complete; it’s a perpetual journey. Embrace this journey with open arms and an open mind, and watch as the seeds of understanding and empathy transform your leadership landscape.

Remember, in leadership, there is no greater tool than self-awareness, and no greater journey than the one that starts with looking inward.



PS: Here is a fantastic opportunity for you to start bridging the perception gap:

Join us for a free-to-attend Lunch & Learn seminar with United Spaces at Uni3 by Geely – 4 Keys to Self-Leadership: Empower Your Drive, Elevate Your Character, and Accelerate Your Growth

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