One of the keys to real success is having the courage to ask the hard questions and deal with hurdles on your team. Whether you are working at a church or a secular organization the tendency is to keep your nose to the grindstone and only look up when there is a serious emergency. An extraordinary team finds time to evaluate and take an honest look at where they are and where they want to go.But occasionally we let the “royal we” down and that can make it difficult for others to trust again. When that happens it is best to go on the offensive and take steps to strengthen weaknesses and restore a positive perception.

So here is how you overcome people’s perception:

1. Understand and take ownership of your shortcomings. St. Francis of Assisi mentioned this in a famous prayer “Seek first to understand, than to be understood.”

2. Going on the defense does not help the team move forward. Now there is a difference between being a door matt (my personal tendency)

3. Understand that perception is not reality. Reality is reality. But the way that people view your team is true to them. That means you need to understand where they are coming from and how they arrived at that conclusion. There is that pesky “understanding” again…

4. Be seen taking steps to change their perception. It is not enough just to take steps to correct weaknesses. You need to find ways to be seen taking those steps. Commend team members publicly. Follow up when actions are taken with individuals with who have had trouble with your team in the past. This is a form of rebranding the identity of your team. Team marketing if you will…

5. Celebrate your victories. Often time teams are only visible to others when mistake is made so it is necessary to recognize your wins and encourage your team.

6. Learn from your defeats. If a person who is gifted in their field takes steps to make sure mistakes don’t happen again or happen less frequently it is only a matter of time before they start to deliver excellence consistently.

7. Earn a better perception. This takes time. Simply putting some procedures into place is not the same as putting those procedures into practice and earning a better perception.

The goal is not to eliminate mistakes, since we are all not perfect and perfection is not an option us mere humans. The goal is to take visible steps to learn from past mistakes and create a framework that safeguards your team from habitually making the same mistakes.

What have you learned about overcoming other’s perception or misconceptions?