Ever hear of the saying “you are what you are perceived to be?” Or thought to yourself “there’s more to that person than people give him or her credit for?” Thus part of our dilemma as leaders-we are who people think we are and our task is to be thought of as we would like, rather than what others perceive us to be.
I read an article by a classmate discussing the importance of praising in public and criticizing in private. I like that he called it improving in private instead of criticizing, but most know the saying as criticizing in public. I thought this post relevant to the discussion of perception because if we act one way in front of our employees or followers and then have harsh words with under performers (or anyone we are “criticizing” in private), then our image as a leader is tarnished. It will only take a day or two for everyone to learn how you handled the person. We have to be consistent in how we act, how we treat people, and what we do because it’s all part of our character. I cannot overemphasize character enough as a leader and make reference to another blog post that I read just today regarding the same topic.
Our challenge is consistency throughout all of our dealings and also learning what people think of us. Having a friend (or befriending someone) that is a follower helps tremendously here because you need to hear the truth, whether good or bad, to learn how we are taken by others. I have said before that I am fairly quiet and people’s perception is that of an introvert, but I learned this long ago and use it to my advantage now. In unfamiliar situations, it lets me sneak around to observe and listen without being noticed much. In being quiet, after the initial notice of this by others, people tend to think I always know the solution to a problem because when I do speak, it is usually short, to the point, and based on getting a solution pushed through. This adds power for me because, whether I know an answer or not, I am perceived as having the answer and become both relied upon and trusted.
I challenge you to leave comments, opinions, and experiences with how perception has worked for or against you to help teach others in this process of life we all live. I’m also looking for tips on how you changed your perception with others for the same reasons.