Ah yes, you have discovered what has already been pointed out – it is harder to change perceptions than to change behavior, and until you have changed perceptions, you are not viewed as a more effective leader.
The higher you are in an organization, the bigger the problem because people like to tell stories about executives. If someone hears a story today about something you did 3 years ago, it’s just as though it happened today.
The problem is that you get stereotyped with a particular bad behavior. Even if you make significant improvement, it is likely that you will demonstrate your old behavior again (assuming you are human.) When that happens, it will reinforce people’s stereotype of you & they will think you have never changed.
We teach our coaching clients a follow up process that is very effective in changing perceptions. For you, it might sound like this:
Every month or so, you go to important stakeholders and say; “I am trying to become even more effective at being an inclusive manager – by being better at active listening, being open to new ideas, having better 1-on-1 relationships. Do you have any suggestions for me going forward?” When they respond, listen, say thank you, and avoid being defensive. The next month when you ask, they may say they have not noticed anything. The next month, the same thing. Then when you do act human & screw up 6 months later, they may say; “You just messed up last week, but you have gotten a lot better.” Say thank you & give them credit for helping you change.