You know that old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” I believe there’s a relevant application to many good-intentioned leaders in the workplace. For those of you who care deeply about the business and for those around you. To those who try to do the right thing… who believe yourselves to be invaluable because of your good intentions. If others can’t perceive that positive intent, are you making a sound?

This disconnect can be a career-limiting one, if not brought to your attention. And even when you’re aware, it can still be career-limiting, if you don’t take specific action.

See if this resonates:

You are very open to your peers’ feedback and you care deeply about your team. You’re always fighting for what’s right, and work overtime when needed to get things done. So, why aren’t you appreciated the way you should be?

You may be leaning too hard into telling vs. engaging. Convincing vs. demonstrating. Speaking vs. listening.

  • You may be fully open to feedback, but have you made the time and space for others to provide it?
  • You may want to hear others’ views, but if you don’t stop speaking until you’re through what you’ve prepared, have you already lost them along the way?

Here are three tangible things you can do,

to ensure others can perceive and appreciate your good intentions:

  1. Build in regular pauses, and ask at least twice in a presentation, “Are there any questions?” or “Is this clear?”
  2. Solicit feedback. At the end of a meeting, pause to ask, “Is there anything I could have done to be more helpful or clear?”
  3. Demonstrate you’ve heard them. When someone does lean in, don’t just nod and move on; play it back. ” Here’s what I’m hearing you say.” It shows you value them enough to confirm you captured the thought, and gives space to clarify in case you haven’t.

These may feel a bit awkward or even artificial in the beginning, but new habits take time. Stay with it, and watch your relationships blossom!