Recently I posted my official appraisal from my previous engagement. It was a positive one. Initially, I was a little concerned about getting one at all since it took quite some time. The testimonial nicely concluded my stint at OBS. When I first joined, it wasn’t exactly smooth sailing.
Having left my previous organisation in a rather unpleasant way, I was vulnerable and sensitive. I did not go to work with a mentality to make friends. Instead, I told myself that I was just there to work. Thankfully, my colleagues kept reaching out, and our relationship became much better as the years went by. However, even though they were friendly and accepting, there were times when there were conflicts as well. One particular incident almost pushed me to leave as I failed to see the value I was bringing, having faced so much resistance. I am glad that there was an opportunity for things to progress as I told myself to bite the bullet and finish the tour.
Today, I find myself facing the same issue. Two months into OCS, I received a peer appraisal that isn’t so flattering. There were some affirmative ones, but a handful did cut me. I spent a few nights thinking about whether I was who I was described. There was some desire to explain or to clarify. But I decided not to. There are times when I explain in order to share why I made certain decisions so that others can understand the train of thought. This is necessary to create buy-in when leading a team. But there are times when these explanations are to defend yourself, which I find little value because people naturally see things in the shade that they want to see. The more you explain, the more they feel otherwise. Hence, I held back. If I am lucky enough, there will be opportunities to know me better, as my previous employment. But if there isn’t, perhaps it is just meant to be. We will always be the villain in someone’s story. In the hero’s story that slew the monster, he is a destroyer of families in the monster’s eye. Depending on where we stand and where our interest lies, we can be the hero or the beast.
One noteworthy thing that I would want to highlight is that feedback should not be weaponised. I can’t help but notice that my most critical comment was amended after all the feedback was received. Perhaps that particular individual wanted to retaliate, having received a critical one and assuming it was from me. Feedback should be given in good faith. As critical as mine would sound, I took caution to ensure that it is not used as a political tool to achieve what I want. This does not apply to just negative ones but positive ones too, as one seeks to gain social standing by putting forth an inaccurate but positive one. Or perhaps the agenda is even more sinister, to prevent one from knowing their mistake so they would crash and burn later. As with all acts, I often find the intention important. While one can speculate and come up with excuses to defend one’s ego, the only way we can grow is to examine our appraisal closely to see if there is any truth in it. Not to brush it off at the first instance as an attempt at a poisoned letter. That is perhaps one important way we grow.
And while it is important for us to defend our honour, it is also important to remember that our character is more important than our reputation. And as leaders, we do not simply go where the wind blows.
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” – John Wooden
“I have never been overconcerned or obsessed with opinion polls or popularity polls. I think a leader who is, is a weak leader. If you are concerned with whether your rating will go up or down, then you are not a leader. You are just catching the wind … you will go where the wind is blowing. And that’s not what I am in this for.” – Lee Kuan Yew