The Shadow Profiler

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Suppose you were followed around and watched for a day, a week or a month… what you would be observed saying and doing? Imagine that. Imagine somebody sitting in on every meeting, listening to every phone call, eating lunch with you, seeing you interacting with your team, family, and loved ones, reading your emails; literally being your shadow…

Surprisingly this is exactly what brave managers, business owners, and CEO’s are actually paying experts to do. In the process the leaders are gaining uncompromising, often confronting, and scrupulous feedback that cannot be obtained from the most advanced 360 degree feedback instruments or well intended loved ones.

The revelation for most people after this exceptionally unusual experience is that what they imagined would be seen and heard is actually often a far cry from what they learn about themselves, their leadership style, how they relate and their dominating patterns. In such, there is usually is a significant dissonance between their own self perception and how they actually act and speak in the world.

As with any development process, this one also starts with a desire to experience what has now become a cliché, yet what is an innate yearning inside almost all of us, namely, to experience our fullest expression of our unique potentials. This is a genuine wish to be shaped and cultured to become one’s ultimate and authentic self as a leader, manager, executive, writer, parent etc.

During the observation phase , the shadow profiler will witness the leader and manager in their natural environment against an agreed set of performance criteria. The experienced shadow profiler will also look and listen for random responses and for naturally emergent patterns as well as for talents that are yet unformed and perhaps unknown to the person. They will also have a special eye out for barriers, limitations, and subtle forms of sabotage that undermines the leader’s or manager’s overall effectiveness and personal power.

During the feedback phase the cultivating process begins through a robust discussion. Through the giving and receiving of big picture to the nitty gritty feedback, the leader or manager, gains a perspective that no other in their life is likely to have witnessed, objectively synthesised nor is able to give without their personal or even professional judgments and criticisms infecting the communication.

It is during this phase of awareness the individual is rewarded, and maybe even confronted with a genuine mirror for the first time. A mirror that gives a raw reflection of their either learned or innate responses and behaviours and gives it against the agreed-upon outcome.

For many this is a challenging and even exhilarating experience to be observed and to receive specific and general feedback in a remarkably non-threatening way. It enables the leader who is totally committed to his or her own growth to be profiled in actual life and not just an intellectual conversation about such.

What makes this most demanding experience appetizing and remarkably edible is that the shadow profiler is an expert in this area who is totally committed to a pure reflecting process believing in the leader’s innate ability to receive and integrate feedback.

As in competitive sport, a champion athlete will usually hunger to see a video replay as soon as possible to detect and interpret necessary changes to enhance their performance. Most will say, “the sooner the replay to the performance, the better I can influence my body to learn to do it better next time around.”

The shadow profiler has the same job as the video replay, to capture in behaviour and speech what actually occurred. The process is done without a video camera to avoid any extra self consciousness that can often be felt when someone is being filmed and to avoid the potential negative impact on maintaining “natural” behaviour.

Obviously not everybody is ready for this unconventional development process. Those who benefit most from this insightful experience usually have a genuine commitment to strengthen what they do well, want to avoid undermining relationships and success and also value harnessing the expertise of a specialist. You will not want to undergo this process if you think you have nothing left to learn about yourself as an individual or a leader.

When choosing a shadow profiler make sure they are trained in the science of non judgmental observation and experienced in the art of translating what is observed in you, into powerful, concise, and immediately actionable steps.

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