Leaders Manage Perceptions Through Filters

No matter how clear you think you are as a leader, people don’t always perceive you the way you intend to be perceived. Great leaders learn to manage perceptions.

There are three filters that the audience uses when listening to leaders: trust, power, and ego. In my previous post I discussed the trust filer. Let’s consider the power and ego filters.

The Power Filter

Power changes the way we see other people, especially when there’s a power differential.

When leaders speak, they must be mindful of how their power influences their message. Failing to address this issue leaves room for perceivers to fill in the blanks. Great communicators are always cognizant of this filter and respectfully enlist their followers’ engagement.

The Ego Filter

The ego lens has one goal: to protect and enhance the perceiver’s self-esteem. Perceivers will always protect their self-esteem, including their decision to receive or reject a leader’s message. Smart leaders address their audience members’ interests and benefits.

Successful Communication

If you want to be understood as a leader, first try to improve your ability to understand others. Identify your ingrained assumptions, biases and filters so you can manage them more effectively.

Social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson in No One Understands You and What to Do About It (Harvard Business Review Press, 2015) suggests the following strategies:

  1. Take your time. Always remember that your first impression may be dead wrong. There are always other possible interpretations of someone’s behavior.
  2. Commit to being fair. We sometimes forget to be fair when we judge someone. The more you consciously implement fairness, the more accurate your perceptions will be.
  3. Beware of the confirmation bias. Once you form an impression, you’ll seek evidence to confirm it. You’ll ignore other behaviors, even (and perhaps especially) if they contradict your impressions. Have the courage to confront your biases and accept reality.

If there’s a huge gap between your intended message and how others hear it, you’ll need to closely examine your communication style and substance. Consider working with a trusted mentor or professional coach to analyze how you come across to others.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your experiences. You can contact me here, or on LinkedIn.

What is the Virtual Culture Dilemma?

Grab this ebook to find out! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

What drives destructive conflict?

Some conflict is healthy, but some is destructive. Grab this ebook to find out! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

How does agility relate to emotional intelligence?

And how can you tap into it to improve your leadership skills? Grab this ebook to find out! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

What is draining your company culture?

Grab this ebook to find out! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

How can you avoid the Great Resignation?

Grab this ebook to find out! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

4 Ways to Earn Trust (or Bust)

Grab this ebook to find out how to build a loyal and high-performing team. I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

More Trust = More Profitability

Grab this white paper to find out how to improve your bottom line by increasing employees' trust in management. I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Lack of Team Alignment?

Grab this white paper to find out how to avoid low performance and align your team! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Want to Build a Proactive Team?

Grab this white paper to find out how to get employees to think for themselves, take responsibility, and raise performance! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Building Self Command

Bridging the Employee Passion Deficit

Grab this white paper to find out why people are passionate about their work but not their employer (and how to fix it)! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Engagement Surveys Lead to Mediocre Outcomes

What should you do instead? Grab this white paper to find out! I'll also add you to my mailing list to receive the latest news and invitations.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Set yourself (and your team) up for success with these essential habits

Beyond "get up at 5am and drink water," these habits will elevate your leadership, inspire your team and set you up for success.

You have Successfully Subscribed!