Leadership

Impression Management

Avoiding the Pitfall [By Jeff Piersall]

We often bemoan, “You can’t live with people and you can’t live without them.”  Unless you’re a hermit, you are involved with people, starting with a mom or dad.

The problem with people is discerning the differences in those individuals who have a degree in Impression Management (IM) and those who have genuine character.  You want to avoid the IM people because when you need them the most, they disappear and/or worse, they attack you while playing the victim.

Warren Buffett commented about the recession, “You know who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.”  You can use the same analogy for people who are impression management artists, because real character only shows up during adversity.

Leadership is all about consistent character during adversity – you do not need leadership during the easy times.  Authentic leaders are transparent and their character is on display for all to see, because they believe in personal accountability.  The impression manager is quite different; like a chameleon, he or she changes according to the situation and circumstances.   

IM artists generally tell whoever they are meeting exactly what they want to hear.  They avoid peer groups because accountability occurs in those groups, and as adversity increases, the demand for personal accountability rises.  The IM will manipulate circumstances and enter the “blame game” because there is always someone else who has caused the problem.  They literally will create their own reality.

IM artists are people who never seem to be wrong.  The challenge of self-awareness is lost on them.

Spotting the IM’s

So how do you identify these people?  It is difficult because they always look, feel and sound so good.  But look deeper.

Notice the company they keep, starting with their spouse.  Bad company leads to bad character; if the behavior or character of the spouse is not consistent with the behavior or character of the individual you are dealing with, watch out. The spouse can be a window the soul of the IM.

Non-confrontational. Whereas confrontation leads to accountability, IM people typically are passive aggressive; they don’t state their views, then six weeks later they will say something like “I really did not agree with that anyway.” Where was that input when the issue was being discussed?

Disrespect for the rules. The IM is always bending the rules with what he or she believes is good justification.  Now be careful with this one, because the entrepreneur may also push the limits on rules, but they do it to reach a goal, not for personal advantage.

“I apologize.” This phrase does not seem to exist in the IM vocabulary.  Admitting a mistake would mean personal accountability and the IM is fearful of that.

The people of real character typically behave in a different manner.

5 Keys to Authenticity

Emotional maturity. You are passionate but not emotional.  Pat Williams, Orlando Magic, commented; “We expect the five year old to throw a fit when denied ice cream in the store, but not an adult.” Maturity is the ability to control one’s emotional state with consistency and in accordance with the situation. 

Change is inevitable, personal growth optional. You are always growing; because with growth you can adapt to change. You are constantly in motion for improvement and adapting to your circumstances. There is no position of “constant being.” You are either moving forward or backward.

Be a part of the solution. You provide positive contribution to a situation. An individual in every circumstance is either in a state of “contribution” or “destruction.” You must contribute to the results. If you are not a part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

Doing wrong for right is still wrong. Watch closely the values of the person; it comes out in action more than words.  Everything we do is about the people first and foremost.

Be your best when your best is needed. As the Boy Scout creed says; “Be prepared!” Show up with your best when your best is needed.  Life is a process of developing the best YOU. There are no shortcuts.  Life is a marathon full of mini sprints while the IM artist is always looking for the shortcut to success, constantly manipulating things in order to create their own perceived value instead of delivering true results. Remember winning is not the goal; it is the byproduct of achieving your BEST. ◆


Jeff_Piersall copyJeff Piersall is co-founder and CEO of SCB Marketing, which publishes i4 Business and SpaceCoast Business magazines. Contact him at (321) 537-4941 or jeff@scbmarketing.com.

About the author

i4 Business

i4 Business

I4 Business magazine has become one of the most trusted voices for and about the Central Florida business community. Each month through our print and digital platforms, we provide access to meet, to learn from and to learn about some of the incredible entrepreneurs and business leaders, along with economic trends that are shaping our region.