A mirror is a pane of glass coated on one side, whose job is to reflect out what’s right in front of it.
Metaphorically speaking, we are all mirrors, affected by the environments that we’re in, the people with whom we interact, and everything and everyone that comes into our lives on a daily basis.
And without knowing it, we reflect back out what we encounter, what we see, and what’s right in front of us.
Sometimes that can be really good. And other times, not so good.
The best leaders understand that if they’re going to be a mirror anyway, why not make a conscious decision to be the best kind of mirror. Here’s how:
Be mindful of what you’re projecting.
It’s one thing to reflect back to your team what you see, and another to be mindful of what you’re unconsciously projecting. At a time when tensions and divisiveness are at an all-time high, exhibiting frustration, negativity, and complaining won’t lessen the stress and may inadvertently multiple it. Instead, use your awareness to intentionally demonstrate a calm, positive, solution-oriented presence.
Provide clarity to help others see the good
Most people are harder on themselves than any other person could possibly be, especially during trying times. Even the most self-aware among us could use a little objective yet kind perspective from time to time. Help others see themselves the way you do, highlighting their strengths and accomplishments.
Use 10x magnification wisely.
There is a benefit to seeing things as they appear to others and digging a little deeper to examine something not easily seen at first glance. Leaders who can make visible parts of ourselves that we can’t see challenge us to proactively address any underlying fears or issues, leading to our continued growth.
Connect the dots between ‘show and tell.’
When there’s a discrepancy between what you see versus what you’ve been told, use your reflective abilities to bring it to your team’s attention in a helpful way. By communicating any observed incongruence, you can connect the dots between “show and tell” and gain greater alignment to get back on track.
Use it to foster greater connection.
In body language parlance, “mirroring” refers to adopting another person’s stance, gestures, and even vocal tone, often unconsciously. We’re literally trying to synch up with someone, which signals to others that they matter and that we’re in agreement with their ideas and attitudes.
To improve your mirroring, face someone directly when speaking with them, maintain eye contact, and provide active listening cues such as nodding. This behavior helps us bond with others, create rapport, and foster deeper connection.
Turn your mirror into a crystal ball to reveal what’s possible.
Allow your mirror to become a window into the future, beyond the status quo, to see your team members’ potential. Help others recognize that they’re capable of great things even when they can’t see that for themselves.
Be the kind of mirror that when somebody looks at you, what they see reflected back to them is full of encouragement, support, goodness, and positivity; all those things that I think all of us would hope to see when we look into the mirror.
Remember, what you reflect is what you project; make sure it’s something that you’d want others—and yourself—to see.