Knowing how you want to be perceived is key in any career interaction. When you have an intention, you can make decisions that will lead you closer to realizing that intention.

These are some questions I ask my clients to help them frame their intentions and then develop effective strategies:

  • How do you want your boss to perceive you? How do you want co-workers to perceive you? What actions or behavior will foster that perception?

EXAMPLE: Liz wants her bosses to perceive her as a leader: capable, trustworthy and decisive.

One behavior that fosters that is coming to them with an identified problem and a proposed course of action aligned with business needs and goals. Instead of asking them to come up with a solution, she comes up with the solution. Instead of asking them for permission to go ahead, she informs them what she is doing, and asks for their input to improve the course of action.

  • How do you want interviewers to perceive you? What attitudes and behavior will foster that perception?

EXAMPLE: Gareth wanted interviewers to perceive him as the next Executive Director of a major NYC non-profit organization. The challenge for him was that he was a known quantity, as the current Director of Programs. How could he make that leap from staff to leader, in the perception of the Board members who interviewed him?

One behavior was to articulate his vision for the entire organization. We worked on examining each aspect of the organization and developing his vision for all of them, as well as a unified vision for the entire organization’s impact on its target market and constituency. By developing a unified vision, Gary showed he understood every aspect of his future responsibility, that he already “owned” the organization, and was capable of leading the organization from where it was to where he wanted it to go. His clarity and strong message was extremely persuasive, and the Board unanimously voted him in as Executive Director.

This kind of questioning can apply to business owners as well. How do you want clients or customers to perceive you? And what kind of behaviors and attitudes will allow you to see you that way?