Understanding The Perception Gap

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Several weeks ago I discussed with you the importance of perception and proposed the question of whether or not perception is truly a reality.

The question, although seemingly easy enough to answer is actually a lot harder to come to grips with than one might think. While you may perceive yourself to be an effective leader, there is a chance that others may see differently, and what those around you think of you, matters!

A perception gap can cause a great divide between an executive and his team. Initially, for most leaders, it’s all about the job and task at hand, often showing less concern for what people think about them. However, more leaders are recognizing the importance of perception from the start. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Fox News Live about the two different types of perception, the way you see yourself and the way others see you, and how understanding the importance of perception can help or hinder your executive career.

When you lack self-awareness of the acuities of others, your perception becomes distorted. Some leaders fall into the trap of not knowing how they’re portrayed by other people. The worst thing you can do is exude an air that you don’t care what others think.

It is important to connect with people, particularly those that work underneath you so they know that you are a “real person” or else they’ll begin to form in their mind who they think you are. Stereotypes can be proven untrue when you show your personality. By simply ommunicating and talking to people on every level of the organization gives you power to control what others think they see.

Additionally, executives should allocate 10 percent of their time making sure that their image, brand and reputation are being maintained. A positive perception helps create followership, which is another reason why listening to your employees is a vital skill for all leaders to have. Without proper insight from those you lead, you run the risk of filling gaps with your own assumptions. This is why feedback is important or a gift as I like to call it. Leaders need to ask more questions to guarantee that the choices they make are based on what’s really going on and not on what their mind perceives there to be.

So again I ask, is perception truly a reality? I’d like to think so. But it’s a reality YOU can help influence!