Beneath the Exterior, What Do Leaders See in You?

If you want career success, ask yourself what leaders and others actually see in you? Then realize that your own perspective is often very different than the outside view.

“O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.” ~Robert Burns

Beneath the exterior, what are they seeing, what are they missing, and what are they misinterpreting? Figure this out, fix it, and you will steer your career to personal happiness and success.

Career Success: Beneath the exterior, what do leaders see in you? Image by:rosmary

Do Your Own 3600 Inventory w/Family & Friends
Gather input from trusted family members who can be objective. Tap friends and people in different generations for their unbiased view.

  • Character. Ask them for one word to describe your characater and one example to illustrate it. Create this list and reflect on it. Is it what you expected? Is it you? From your perspective, what is missing? Is there a gap? Close the gap and you open the door to success.
  • Beliefs. Ask them to tell you what your behavior and actions say about your beliefs and what you value.

    Actions speak louder than words. What do your actions tell others about your true values and view of a good life? Would leaders in your dream work tap you based on that view?

    If not, you may get trapped in the gap. Either show them those true values with your actions or consider what dream work matches your true values!

    The best career advice I ever got:
    First figure out what kind of life you want, then pick your career. For example, if you value a lifestyle of possessions and want to earn a living as an artist, there is a risk you will get trapped in the gap. How will you eliminate the gap?

    The most helpful personal insight I received: You value having a voice, living your values to help others through your work, and determining your own life path. (By the way, they were right.) My happiness and success started 23 years ago when I became self-employed.

  • Talents and Natural Abilities. Ask them, what do you see as my natural abilities? Write them all down. See which ones show up multiple times. Is your current work truly drawing on these natural strengths?

    Which strength is hidden beneath your exterior?
    Your happiness will languish in your hidden strengths. Peel back the exterior and expose your hidden strength. Make note of where you use this strength in your personal life and it will guide you to your dream work where it naturally applies.

The sum of your character, beliefs, and talents becomes your personal career portfolio for finding success and happiness.

Your portfolio is you. It goes beyond letters of recommendation, references, and a resume.

Whether you are unsure about what you want, already working in your desired career, or transitioning to your dream work, peel away the exterior layers to find who you really are and show them what you can truly do.

There is nothing quite as sublime as living an authentic life.

    What is the best career or life tip you ever received or offered?
    Will you grace us with it in the comments section below?

From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™

Related Posts:
Want happiness? Don’t Let Fear Be the Gum on Your Shoe!
5 Psychologically Uncomfortable Career Shaping Opportunities

©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.

Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.

18 Responses to “Beneath the Exterior, What Do Leaders See in You?”

  1. Steve Keating says:

    Incredibly good advice from Kate. We seldom see ourselves as others see us and that can damage our credibility quickly. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way (and too often) as I’ve coached people and then had them or someone near them tell me “well, you’re not doing that” so how good is your advice. Until I heard those words I had no idea “I wasn’t doing that” cause it was something I really believed in but had just gotten away from.

    So I create a personal mission statement, what I believe and how I will act, I’ve shared it widely and asked friends & business associates to hold me accountable to it. To catch me BEFORE I get too far away from my core values. It been a tool that helps me see myself through the eyes of others and has helped me maintain my credibility with the people that matter most in my life.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Steve,
      I like the extension you put to this post — a personal mission statement to keep you on track! Life’s challenges can easily draw us off the path and something constant to bring us back is a most valuable tool.

      Many thanks for your idea!

  2. Joe Williams says:

    The best advice I ever received was to identify my core values, since they are the wellspring from which we determine our alignment with our organization’s mission, and also determines our morals that govern our interactions with others. Great post, Kate.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      As you might expect Joe — I wholeheartedly agree. I wonder if this is taught in schools as our young adults prepare for work?

      Many thanks for sharing the best advice you received!

  3. Khalid says:

    Hi Kate,

    I very much value Johari’s window when dealing with others.

    The more you are in region 1 (open area) the better chances of your success in communication with others surrounding you as they know about you as much as you know about yourself! Synergy in teams arises if members are as close as region 1 in Johari’s window.

    Your advices are great Kate in a sense that it increases the likelihood of getting people into the open area.

    I once asked coworkers about my strength and one area to improve and I was surprised with some of the answers! One of them was to improve my technical documentation whereas I was the only one in my team who stresses such a thing! That thing was unknown to that person and that was my chance to teveal it 🙂


  4. Hi Kate, I enjoyed your concise and wisdom-based stepping-stones to career-life success. My sense is that your suggestions are very useful at all ages and life stages.

    Perhaps as one truly lives life with authenticity, wisdom will flourish and one can grow into awareness and have some accurate insights and inner appreciation of some of the answers to the excellent questions you raise, and be accurate in their accumulated self knowledge.

    I think an important aspect of growth and success in the life journey is listening to others with an open mind and heart and discerning truth from perception, indeed a challenge for most of us. EdC

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Dear Edward,
      I think the willingness to listen ebbs and flows depending on many factors. Sometimes it is more challenging than others. Underneath, I think desire to learn/change ups our listening.

      Many thanks for adding your view on this. Hope you will visit and contribute on any post of interest here at Smart SenseAbilities(tm).


  5. Kate,

    Your post exemplifies what I believe is the best career advice of all: be devoted to self-knowledge and keep asking the deeper questions of yourself. It takes a kind of fearlessness to keep asking, but the pay-off in capacity to negotiate the world is inestimable. As long as I am asking, I feel I am always receiving the best career advice from what is actually happening — both the places where I am successful and those where I am not so successful. The world is constantly giving out feedback and shapes us as we go — just as we shape ourselves. When I look at my failures, in particular, they are huge sources of learning. They have had plenty of “career advice” for me, as I figure out how best I needed to bounce off them as walls, break through them, or open a hidden door.

    In a way, however, the real lesson in listening to feedback from others and from events has always seemed to me to be below the level of identifying strengths and weaknesses. The lesson is that my own best teacher is an invisible thread of meaning that I must follow in my life and career, no matter what, whether it works or not, and even whether it can be named. In that sense, every event, good or bad, can help uncover the thread — that teacher — in a new way.

    Kate, thank you so much for another beautiful, penetrating post.

    All the best

  6. Kate,
    Loved your post – insightful and causes one to pause (which is a good thing!) A self-assessment is important for growth and to solicit the opinions/perceptions of others offers one the authentic, naked truth.

    Your approach is fresh, gentle and encouraging – kudos!

    Keep up the great work – we can all benefit from your wisdom.

    Continued success,

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Thanks Deborah. The pause is exactly what I was going for! As for gentle and encouraging — people are far more willing to introspect when not being beaten from the outside 🙂

      So pleased that you added your perspective here. Hope you will share your insight on any/all posts that tap your interest.

      Thank and kindest regards,

  7. Thank you, Kate. Your post not only reminds me that other people are seeing, missing, and misinterpreting things in me. It reminds me that I am seeing, missing, and misinterpreting things in other people. It helps me remember and become a better leader.

    The best, and most challenging, advice I have ever received or given is “Be yourself.”

  8. Joshua Symonette says:

    Kate, this is a really good strategy. I think I am going to steal this one from you and put it in my tool box. Seriously, I think educators and school leaders of high schools need to help students execute this strategy before graduating. I was one of those smart kids that graduated near the top of my class, but had no idea what I was good at (besides football). I wasn’t a typical jock, I just didn’t have a plan for success in college based on what was beneath the layers. Consequently, I was kicked out of school because my grades were terrible. The people who knew me where shocked. But I was a first generation college student with no idea what to do. Fortunately I go myself back into school and didn’t lose my athletic scholarship. But it took me until I was 30 (which was almost 4 years ago) to really figure out what was beneath the layers. (And I am still learning.)

    This post is extremely valuable and can prevent a wandering wilderness experience like mine. Thanks so much for sharing this and all that you do!


  9. Simon Harvey says:

    A great post and very important points for all of us as we grow, learn and grow.Life is very short and finding these types of answers of how others see you early surely can pave the way to some exciting discoveries.

    For me self awareness is at the very top of the pole and at the center of who we become. While this type of self 360 may not be for everyone (some may want to follow their faith, their own intuition or culture) this is a great way to gather information of other people perspectives, and so learn a little more about who you are becoming and what your are saying even when you are not saying anything.

    It is a beautiful world and for many knowing more is invigorating and exciting and your post, and obviously your own carrear shows what great results this type of discovery can enable. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and knowledge, always a pleasure to learn and grow.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Simon,
      Thanks for adding the perspective of intuition. I am highly intuitive and early on assumed others were as well. Not always true and for these wonderful folks — this model works well.

      I appreciate your addition to this post and hope you will visit here and comment often.

      Warmest regards,

  10. Kath Roberts says:

    Great advice Kate. I ‘ve learned a heap about career tips over the years but we learn best when we discover ourselves then integrate that into wisdom. So here goes, start with a healthy dosh of core values, a 360 perspective on you regarding talents, then turn inward, follow your heart and that inner voice that says “you can” rather than the “inner bitch” that says “forget it” and take that passion outwards.

    Find people who energetically resonate with you, in other words share your values and you’ll be buzzing ever more.

    That’s the difference to me between a personal mission/life purpose and a career.

    • Kate Nasser says:

      Hi Kath,
      Thanks for the feedback. I most especially like your slant on finding your inner voice that says “you can”. Fabulous image.

      And I am in agreement with you that a personal mission/life can far outpace a career on the happiness scale!

      So glad you added your thoughts here. Hope you visit many times and expand our discussion.

      Best regards,

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