Essay: Image Management
This is an essay on image management. Image is both truth and lie, both accurate perception and the gap between reality and perception. It is not policy or substance. It is, however, associated to both. Image is built up day by day, gradually accreting sediment at the bottom of the lake of public opinion.
Image is both truth and lie, both accurate perception and the gap between reality and perception. It is not policy or substance. It is, however, associated to both. Image is built up day by day, gradually accreting sediment at the bottom of the lake of public opinion. Images can be incredibly resilient, in part because of the media’s tendency to reinforce whatever the public image has become. In spite of a number of important effort to clarify the definitions of identity and image (Abratt, 1989), there is still a general lack of constancy when these terms are adopted to theoretical models or applied in practice. At a certain point in a leader’s life, it becomes easier to change policy than it is to change image, for this very motive. As one of the great presidential image managers, Reagan aide Michael Deaver, observed, “in the television age, image sometimes is as useful as substance” (Waterman, Wright, and St. Clair 1999, 53).
As we move into the realm of organizational identity and organizational image, we move into a world of cautiously designed and attuned signifiers – in other words, a world intentionally constructed to draw quite specific responses and reactions. Identities and images, however, are volatile social constructions that, although seemingly “objective”, base their existence and significance mainly on the interpretive capabilities and preferences of their audiences. Thus, in order to comprehend the complex interplay between identities and images, we need to stable the prescriptive and predominantly sender-oriented approaches of most managerial writings with a more constantly interpretive perspective. Good leaders are made not born. If you have the craving and willpower, you can become a successful leader. Good leaders proceed through a never ending process of self-study, education, training, and experience. This guide will help you through that process.
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