Great Leaders Manage Perceptions
By Nancy Thompson, Executive Director, AWENS – Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia @nthompsonED
Perception is created, established and can be influenced through varying types of communication. These communications can be verbal such as, discussions and conversations at meetings; written, through emails, policies and corporate guidelines; and through visual actions, the rolling of the eyes and hand jesters. Perceptions are formed through interpretations that are around us (Wielheim Wundh,1879) throughout the workplace, and our day to day experiences on the job.
To reach organizational goals there must be buy-in from all employees where everyone is working in sync to move the business forward. This concept is not new to leaders or managers working to advance an organization. What may be new to some leaders, managers and employees within organizations is that buy-in is one thing, but perceptions of the people within the organization is another.
For this reason, leaders and managers within organizations need to ensure that people working within their organization have the skills to communicate effectively. Great leaders who can manage perceptions in the process of handling people and organizational issues are those that can secure the buy-in and achieve the intended goals of the organization. If they do not have the skills and knowledge to manage perceptions of the people within their organization then it is possible to concluded the leadership effectiveness may fail. Why is this a critical skill for a leader to have? According to Patricia Knight, an MBA student at University of Nevada-Reno, “…if employees’ perceptions are not managed, they become rumors, then gossip, then backstabbing, which is destructive for an organization’s environment. Unmanaged perception becomes a truth that was not intended. So, as leaders if you want to communicate successfully, influence, or lead people, you must understand how you are perceived so you can change perception.”
I would like to add to Patricia Knights statement that not only leaders and managers should learn to manage perceptions. Employees at all levels of an organization need to understand how perceptions affect the performance of all persons working in a business and how perceptions shape the culture of the organization and the work environment.
Managing others’ perceptions and controlling our own is a highly desirable skill no matter where you work. The skill of managing perceptions can be learned. Whether you are an employee, manager or leader invest in learning to manage and influence your own and others’ perceptions.
AWENS is in the business of helping build and move business forward. We help businesses create a healthy work environment. AWENS moves beyond training and changes the perceptions of individuals within the work environment. For more information regarding the work we have done in the area of customized training for leaders and organizations, you can download AWENS 2017 Annual Report
Nancy Thompson is the Executive Director of AWENS – Association of Workplace Educators of Nova Scotia. She has worked across a wide range of industries and organizations within the business development, government, construction, corporate and non-profit sectors. As an experienced trainer and adult educator, Nancy’s passion is for promoting lifelong learning and helping people to grow both personally and professionally.