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Have you ever made a choice at work you later regretted?

I’ve had many senior leaders walk through my doors looking for some help at “rebooting” after realizing they weren’t coming off to others the way they wished. It’s natural. Sometimes, we find out that our colleagues are misunderstanding our motives. Other times, we’re so focused on doing a good job – as we see it – that we don’t realize we’re alienating other well-intentioned coworkers.

It happens. C’est la vie.

The question is how to bounce back and rebuild your profile and regain executive promotability when your colleagues have negative misperceptions about you.

How to get started? I recommend you “MORPH” to rewire their perceptions.

Here’s the five-step MORPH formula:

  1. Enlist your MANAGER. Explain what you’re doing and ask your boss to visibly stand up for you to create the space for perception-change. Understand, however, that you’re asking a lot. This is the same boss who might have recently told her own higher ups – and maybe even your peers – that you weren’t promotable. Win her over.
  1. OXYGENATE the problem areas. A wildly successful marketer once advised me that when an offering has a shortcoming, “if you can’t hide it, then feature it!” Air it out. Commission HR to provide you with a 360-degree assessment and feedback. Strategically select respondents. In addition to the standard complement of boss, peers and direct reports, invite key organizational influencers and opinion leaders. Ask humbly for help and you will predispose a person to your emerging improvements.
  1. It’s now time to REFRAME the perceptions. Based on the feedback, identify key themes and commit to a development plan. Vet it with your boss and ask for his input and offer genuine thanks. This will prime him to discard the now-obsolete box in which he’d pictured you.
  1. Now, PROVE it! Your parents always said that actions speak louder than words, didn’t they? Showcase the new-and-improved you by demonstrating “disconfirming” behaviors and approaches. Here are some examples. (a) If you are reputed to drive results uncollaboratively, identify a nagging organizational dysfunction and assemble a cross-functional, diagonal cut of the organization to methodically tackle it together. (b) If the rap on you is that you’re great with the numbers but don’t inspire your team, plan an offsite to share your vision. (c) If others believe you’re strategic at the expense of implementation, roll up your sleeves and dig in.
  1. Finally, HONOR those who’ve helped your turnaround. Find a time and a way to thank every single person you can . . . whether they rooted for you or not. Your boosters will enjoy the acknowledgement and recognize that their investment of political capital appreciated. Detractors will find your confident magnanimity unnerving. When they sense the shift in popular opinion, they’re prone to adjust to the reality of your upward momentum.

Recognize that you didn’t create the current perceptions overnight. Patiently and tenaciously MORPH expectations following these steps. It’s up to you.

So what I want to know is, in light of what you’ve read here, what are you going to do to recast negative perceptions of you? Leave me a comment.

I hope you found this piece useful. If you like it, share it with your colleagues or someone else you believe might benefit.

If you want to learn more, take our “C-Suite Roadblock Audit,” which will help you identify mistakes you might be making right now that could be hurting your CSuite prospects. Also, if you’re interested in a proven framework for promotability to a CXO role, download “The C-Suite Code: 9 Keys to Trigger an Executive Promotion … The “Corporate Finishing School” secrets no one is teaching you.”

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