I have been in many conversations with people in leadership positions about the perceptions they create for their people. More importantly, the perceptions they create ultimately construct the organizational realities for these employees. This is often a troubling opinion to face for many leaders. Many feel the employees should be accountable for the perception they have, but in actuality an effective leader exerts an enormous amount of control over the means in which they communicate – which means, they must have an enormous amount of personal accountability for the perceptions they communicate. If these perceptions are not managed, the employees will inevitability create realities they believe are correct. Where this process spirals out of control for many, is the fact that the realities each employee creates from one conversation could vary greatly based on their personal experiences. Adults scaffold their learning based on personal experience, and so will they internalize a leaders message.
If you need an example of this ideology in action consider the invasion of the Normandy beach. I recently became aware that the Nazi forces were more than prepared for the invasion. Consequently, the allied forces set up a massive base that consisted of thousands of tanks and other military vehicles. They even stationed the recently retired General Patton at the base. The issue was that all the vehicles were inflatable…literal balloons. Hitler was so convinced that his perception of an invasion was in fact truth, (his reality) that he moved the majority of Nazi forces to another strategic location. In actuality, Hitler moved his forces and opened the door for a full scale offensive on the beaches of Normandy.
So I ask you, as an organizational leader – Are you aware of your perceptions? And what are you doing to control the perceptions you create for your employees?