Perception is powerful. Have you got it under control?

  • Janine
  • 23/07/2019

Leadership is defined as ‘a process of social influence which maximizes the efforts of others toward the achievement of a greater good’.

Notice the key elements of this definition: Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power. Gone are the days of leadership being about power and control. Those leaders are thankfully, retiring, or realising the new way and making the shift.

So if leadership is about influence, is the way you influence others working for you or against you?

The challenge of leadership is to know the impact of your influence. This insight comes from perception – how you are perceived. How you are perceived colours the thinking of everyone around you and remember perception is reality and it is their reality not yours.

Fortunately, you have the ability to ensure that how you are perceived, is actually how you want to be perceived. If you know how you want to be perceived, you can make the necessary changes in the way you communicate, and behave, to shift perception in the minds of those around you. If we loosely play with McTighe and Wiggins’ model of Understanding by Design; if you know how you want to be perceived, you can design your leadership model to suit.

But you have to know first how you want to be perceived.

You need to know what sort of a leader you want to be, how you want to relate to others and work with them, the types of relationships you want around you and the communication you want in order to achieve that.

It is from here that it is incredibly helpful to know how are you currently perceived as your starting point. So how do you find out?

Well you could conduct a survey. Pick 10 people that you work with, not all your favourites because that would be too biased. The 10 people are mixed up between people you get along well with, as well as those where things are not so great. Design some questions and try your luck with them telling you honestly how they perceive you.

Or, given that surveys are not everyone’s favourite thing to do and your 10 selected people  are unlikely to give you an honest response, mainly because your survey wasn’t anonymous, you could get smarter and look at psychology; behavioural psychology.

In the world of leadership development, we have tools that allow us to evaluate your style. The tool reports back to us, clearly mapping how you behave, how you communicate and how you are perceived all from a 15 minute questionnaire, and it is incredibly accurate. I haven’t had one person say they have been evaluated inaccurately yet!

Now you know, you can move forward.

So armed with this knowledge, you can now move forward. You have the information you need to look at how you are perceived and you can ask yourself: “Do I like it?” You have the information that reports on how you behave, how you communicate, and again, if it is impacting how you are perceived, you can work on identifying the changes that need to be made, to change the way you operate, and ultimately change how you are perceived in the minds of those around you. It puts you back in control.

It is only once you are here, in the driver’s seat of how you are perceived, that you can move your leadership forward. Perception matters. Don’t think it doesn’t. Leadership comes from good relationships and if you are perceived as not caring about others, this will negatively impact any chance of good working relationships. If you are thinking relationships are not important, then you are back to the old ‘command and control’ style and I mentioned earlier, those days have gone.

Knowing how you behave and communicate and how you are perceived allows you to find your true leadership style. I call this having clarity, being clear about your leadership and who are as a leader. From here, your authentic leadership begins to shine. It is from here that you can progress, not only in your leadership but in your career.

Now you have clarity! From here you can progress in your leadership and in your career.

Module 1: Clear of the Elevating Leadership Program is a full day workshop focused on being clear about who you are, your leadership style and how you behave and communicate. We use the psychometric profile, the DISC which is backed up with research,  is easy to understand, and is incredibly accurate.  At the end of the workshop, you will know how you behave and communicate, and how you are perceived. With this knowledge, you can now identify what you want to work on to improve the way you interact with others to improve relationships, communication and ultimately team functioning.

This program is being held every term – Leadership and the DISC. It’s Module 1 of the Elevating Leadership Program.

More details can be found here:


Janine Stratford, is a Leadership Coach and Career Strategist, working with teachers and leaders in schools across Australia and New Zealand. A former teacher and school leader, she is passionate about developing great leaders as role models for their schools and their students. You can find out more about Janine at