Are You Managing Perception?

I believe perception management is very much misunderstood in our company and is used negatively so much that it has lost its meaning.

I would like to shed some light on perception management in today’s Gems of Wisdom, as I have understood it by attending one of the TRUTH APPLICATION PROGRAMME SESSIONS (TAPs) conducted by Dato’ Vijay Eswaran, who has taught me to manage perception from the very outset of our partnership.

Firstly let me give you a definition of leadership as follows:
“Leadership development is the expansion of a person’s capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes. Leadership roles and processes are those that enable groups of people to work together in productive and meaningful ways.”

We are all leaders to one degree or another. What sets great leaders apart is their ability to ‘manage perception’. What people observe or assess as your ability to be a leader and your effectiveness becomes their perception, which in turn becomes reality.

Perceptions that are not managed become rumours, then gossips and backbiting, which leads to destruction. Unmanaged perceptions become a reality that was not intended. Perception management requires asking questions and getting feedback from others.

Most leaders typically do not receive feedback very often and, in many cases, when given it is usually not in the most constructive manner. However, effective feedback provides information that lets you know how you are doing. It involves giving and receiving, reinforces the changes you are making, and encourages you to continue. It is balanced and positive as well as constructive and corrective. It assumes that everyone is not out to get you. It recognises that each person is doing his or her best and that although each one of us is unique, we all have a great deal in common.

Most of us know that we need feedback but are unsure how to get it or use it.

In one of the TAPs leadership trainings that I have attended, a format was presented using a process which I will call Assessment, Challenge and Support (ACS).

In the assessment phase you seek feedback from others. You look for people who are able to observe your behaviour and have an interest in your effectiveness; people who are able to speak to you directly, honestly and specifically.

Once you have received feedback, it is important to take time to reflect on your experiences and evaluate the content of what was shared.

During the challenge stage, we are reminded that challenging experiences stretch us and foster the development of new abilities. They force us to move out of our comfort zone and help us acquire skills and abilities that may have seemed beyond our current reality.

Mechanisms that provide a supportive environment include encouragement, advice, growth and acceptance. These help to create an atmosphere in which learning and growing are valued. They open people up to new learning possibilities and enable them to handle the challenges of development. It is critical to maintain positive viewpoints and the motivation to develop.

These three areas combined – Assessment, Challenge and Support – add up to growth and development.

The goal of the TAPS process is to allow people to focus their attention and efforts on learning. The benefit of receiving feedback is an increased understanding of our own strengths and weaknesses and we are able to confer this benefit on others by giving feedback.

I can personally attest to the benefits of perception management. This is what we do best during our TAPs that I still conduct for our IRs and leaders in the field.

Your friend,

Joseph Bismark
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd