Do you know how others perceive you as a leader? Knowing how others perceive you is valuable information. Perceptions lead to awareness, which opens the window of opportunity.
As people interact with each other, perceptions are quickly formed. They are formed based on:
- direct or indirect involvement, and
- one’s own frame of reference.
Although perceptions may or may not be accurate, future interactions are based on formed perceptions. For example, a direct report has a perception of his leader as uncaring and focused only on bottomline results. This perception was formed from the leader’s demanding behaviors and insensitive interactions in the past. As a result, the direct report is hesitant to ask for help, share information, and engage regularly with his leader. Perceptions could limit the personal and professional growth of relationships. As the slogan goes, “Perception is reality.”
A Leader must be aware that others will definitely formulate their own perceptions based on small samples of the leader’s behaviors and other variables. By being aware of team members and peers’ perceptions at all times, a leader can gain insight and awareness of his or her effectiveness. This valuable information provides an opportunity for the leader to adjust behaviors and open lines of communication.
I have coached several clients on topics that relate to how they are perceived by others: team members, managers, and peers. When clients’ perceptions of themselves are different from how others’ perceive them, first, clients are enlightened with the information, and second, they determine how to react to the information. Clients reflect on their behaviors and effectiveness through the coaching process. By answering thought-provoking questions, clients uncover what is driving their effective or ineffective behaviors. For example, a client realizes she is quick to give a solution or direction to direct reports and does not ask for their thoughts and feedback. As a result, she is causing her direct reports to be dependent on her and not encouraging collaboration in finding solutions. Being aware of others’ perceptions allow clients to adjust their behaviors and incorporate specific strategies to increase their effectiveness and contribute to creating accurate perceptions.
As individuals and human beings, perceptions will be formed! The question is how do you want to influence others’ perceptions?