The following excerpt is adapted from The Healthcare Leader’s Guide to Actions, Awareness, and Perception, ed. 3 by Carson F. Dye and Brett D. Lee. Copyright 2016 by the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Click here to access information about this book.

Successful leaders are those who can build and maintain relationships with the people around them. These relationships are developed through a series of impressions, which can create positive or negative perceptions that impact their capability to lead and influence. Negative leadership perceptions can be a result of numerous brief or lengthy interactions that are direct or indirect. They can even develop because of circumstances such as poor visibility to all staff, executive compensation and executive benefits.

To effectively manage perception, executives must develop an understanding of leadership that includes a grasp of how their behavior influences the environment around them and adopt a process such as the one found Exhibit 1.2 for effectively responding to and turning around negative perceptions that may have developed.

Perception does not always equate to reality, but it is what matters most to many employees; it is the equivalent of truth through their organizational lens. Changing a perception once it is widely held is a time-consuming and difficult task for the executive. The best first step in managing perception, as it is in managing any task, is to follow the appropriate protocol as seen in Exhibit 1.3.