Effective leaders need to manage how they are perceived by others

Article originally published in the Philadelphia Business Journal on September 23, 2014

The way a leader is perceived by others will have a significant impact on their effectiveness and in many cases the reputation of their organization.

Recently, President Obama was roundly criticized for commenting that he lacked a strategy for dealing with the terrorist organization ISIS. He certainly did not give any thought to the negative impact of how his leadership would be perceived before he made this statement. As a result, he was viewed as weak and indecisive. Two weeks later he announced an aggressive military strategy for dealing with ISIS, but his first comment will always be remembered by ISIS and his political opponents. Only time will tell whether his second statement will reverse the negative perception formed by his first statement.

Last week, Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, faced criticism on the improper handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. Realizing how he and the League were being perceived, on Friday he publically acknowledged the mistake and shared how the League planned to address the issue of domestic violence by its players moving forward. His future actions and those of the NFL will ultimately demonstrate how serious the League takes this issue, and that will determine how he and the NFL will be perceived by the public. The lesson: when everyone else knows you made a mistake, they want to know that you know it too. Admit the mistake.

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