As I read through Creating a Positive Professional lmage, I couldn’t help but think about the conversations we have had in class regarding the role of social identity in leadership. Image is more than the outward appearance of a leader. Perception is a powerful tool in any situation. It has the ability to either build or negate a leader by validating or alienating followers or customers and their beliefs. The article acknowledges that any leader will encounter situations that encourages that leaders ‘be the author of your own identity. Take a strategic, proactive approach to managing your image’.
Other articles support the idea that perception can be created to achieve an advantage or transform the reputation of an organization. (See How to Pitch Yourself as an Expert to the Media; Online Reputation: New Methods Emerge for Quashing Fake, Defamatory Reviews; Branding Through Public Displays of Affection; How Regular Women Can Become ‘Brands’ in Four Easy Steps)
These articles encourage leaders to use the media (social or otherwise) to help in achieving the desired perception and therefore, the level of popularity necessary for success. In one interesting article aimed at keeping the pulse of the image of an organization to eliminate costly mistakes, the author shares how David Lee Roth, of Van Halen, was dubbed as a “narcissistic diva” due to ridiculous demands written into his contracts. Upon closer inspection, these demands emerge as ‘smoke detectors’ for employers who did not pay attention to details. If Roth entered a dressing room and his demands were not met, he was entitled by the fine print of the contract to abandon the show without explanation. His rationale was that if employers didn’t read the fine print, they probably didn’t pay enough attention to the necessary demands of the show including lighting, speakers, etc… Though this diva image was inflated by the media on a surface level, the strategic demands effectively embodied Roth’s high standards for each Van Halen show, and quickly determined when an employer did not hold the show in the same regard.
Education may not have brands attached to dollar signs as indicated in the article listed above, but it does function greatly on perception. As educational leaders, we have to hold a delicate balance between relational and task orientations, all the while keeping our attention on the morale of those for whom we are responsible. In the case of every leader, perception can be directly linked to the success or failure of the school.