This is another of the 108 strategies from Leading with Emotional Intelligence.

Norma was an engineer who came to executive coaching because she had “rough edges.” This is a common expression in the corporate world for someone who needs more emotional intelligence. She was technically very sound and valued in the organization. Other employees though, had complained to her boss and human resources that she yelled at them, was impatient, irritated at interruptions and could be very condescending.

As I described “Snapshot Management” to her I held up my hand and explained she had 4-5 opportunities to crystalize her reputation or story with others. How many did she think were positive, I asked? She said two or three and I knew it was more like one or two.

Two Challenges:

I explained she had an uphill battle as it was a very slow process to change these impressions of her and it doesn’t always stick. She had two challenges:

  1. To make some changes that the coaching would help, and
  2. Most people wouldn’t notice the changes even if she mad them.



Even if she controlled herself, didn’t get upset or impatient with others for month one, two, three and four, then the fifth month she got impatient, raised her voice and was disgusted with someone, no one would say how hard she was trying and was making changes, instead they would say, “there she goes again.”

In most people’s minds they would think she hasn’t changed at all. She was a victim of “Snapshot Management.” It would be completely inaccurate and devoid of the benefit of the doubt for her. Her original snapshots were formed in concrete while any changes were invisible or transitory. The confirmation bias of affirming past snapshots blinded others to her changes.

Three actions: Collage vs. Snapshots

I explained to Norma that if she wanted to change those snapshots that she would have to do three things:

  1. Be almost perfect for up to two years without any similar snapshots.
  2. Make many positive changes, she needed a “collage” of 20 or so positive snapshots to counteract the 4-5 negative.
  3. She needed to find a way to publicize the changes she was making, because no one was watching that closely for the positive changes.



Norma had to become acutely aware of how she presented herself in meetings and individually. It was important for her to learn how to manage the snapshots she gave people.

Action Questions:

  1. Of the 4-5 snapshots of you by your team or your boss, how many are positive?
  2. In you reviews of others, are you blind to some of their accomplishments because of your snapshots of them?
  3. What successes have you or your direct reports had that have gone unnoticed?
  4. How can you get more snapshots or views of someone you are reviewing versus relying on just your minimal snapshots of them?



In the next Coach’s Corner we will continue with Norma’s strategy to have a collage of action versus her 4-5 snapshots.

To be less on automatic and more aware and emotionally intelligent so you can be in charge of your life and contributions, see our site for more resources.