Experience & Perception


Experience and perception play an important role in overall life. Many of the decisions a person makes in life are based on both their experiences and their perceptions. As a leader, there’s more than just knowing how these affect your decisions and leadership style.  An effective leader needs to learn how to understand the perceptions of the team. Only when you see things through their eyes, can a leader truly manage the perceptions of the team.


The following podcast is Jim Zelem’s thoughts on how both experience and perception affect people and their decisions. It contains examples that support his findings.


Experience is one of the best teachers there is. We learn so much from our experiences, regardless if they are either good or bad.  We will remember a bad experience and make sure we don’t duplicate it. Yet, when applicable, remember the lesson. On the other hand, we incorporate the good ones in our life. For example, when you become a parent, we will utilize what you liked that our parents did to us. Then we will eliminate the ones we didn’t care for.



Perception acts as a lens through which we view reality. Our perceptions influence how we focus on, process, remember, interpret, understand, synthesize, decide about, and act on reality. In doing so, our tendency is to assume that how we perceive reality is an accurate representation of what reality truly is. In essence, our perception is our reality. We make a lot of our decisions on our perception. And we also like to justify our perception onto others.


Effects on Leadership

Our experiences and perception will determine a lot as to how one might manage or lead a team. However, an effective leader will listen and learn to understand the experiences of others. More importantly, they will learn the perceptions of others, which nows them to manage those perceptions. When a leader understands the perception of others, hopefully, you can lead them through what they see and not by what you perceive. A simple example is telling time. If a person doesn’t understand what quarter after two means but does understand what 2:15 is, how should you tell them the time? Both are correct, but now you’re effectively communicating the time with them.

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