More Love

On Objectivity

Apr 06, 2021

I was surrounded by total strangers, and I was absolutely mortified.

My shirt was untucked, my name tag was ripped, and there was dirt on my face.

My mind raced: What must the others be thinking?

I suppose they should be happy—they were the ones who did this to me.

We were participants in a coaching workshop where we had been asked to choose a persona that was the opposite of the quality most exhibited by each individual.

As a former Marine, I tend to carry myself in a precise and well-packaged manner, especially in professional settings.

The group immediately chose my opposing persona—Pigpen—and then delightfully disheveled me.

I was amazed at how complete strangers were instantly able to pick up on something I had failed to see in myself.

That’s the power of objective self-awareness, and it’s one we need to cultivate as leaders.


1. Grab a Post-It and list 5 qualities of mindset or behavior you consider to be your strengths. Are you disciplined, caring, ambitious, energetic, or some other trait?

2. Ask 3 co-workers to make their own list of your top 5 strengths. Ask your boss, a peer, and a direct report, if possible.

3. Compare the lists. Look for matches and mismatches and reflect on the results.