I was reading a book today about Service Marketing [I know, kind of a geeky thing to do, but I enjoy reading business books] and read a chapter about "positioning" your service. Then a thought struck me -- we as individuals have a personal position, especially at work. And I was thinking about my own personal position [specifically within the work context]. And trying to determine what mine is right now.
You might ask -- why care about it? I do my job and I've very good at it. The simple answer is that your position [what people think about you] is much more important than what you think about yourself. I will affect the money you make, how well other people react and work with you, your ability to "push" your ideas through - almost every aspect of your work life.
Now, how do you find out what others think of you [and determine your position]? Simple, you ask. You ask the people you work with - your boss [his/her boss], your peers, you project team members, and any others you come into contact. The simple question is: When you think of me, what comes to mind. [you might need to let the other person know you are looking for honest feedback, don't "sugar coat" the answer].
Once you have asked enough people, determine if there is a pattern in the words used [also think about tone, body language, etc.] -- because now you know your "position" with regard to real "customers". That knowledge will allow you to determine what gaps [if any] you need to fill. Knowledge is power, even if the new information you have is not what you really wanted to know. Don't allow fear to get in the way. All of us have gaps in what we believe about ourselves and what others "know" or "feel" about us. Some of the honest answers may not be easy to hear - but it is all valuable. The good, the bad and the ugly.
So you see yourself as the smartest guy in the room - your boss sees you as hard headed or disruptive, your co-workers see you as hard to work with and your boss' boss sees you as a maverick. Or maybe you see yourself as a "driven" professional - and others see you as rigid and uncompromising. Whatever the answer -- it's just information -- take it for what it is and determine how you want to deal with it.
As with companies - we all have a position - if it's not what you want, it can be changed - it just takes time [and an action plan] to do it.