My name is Dr Terry Sheridan, and I discovered a new theory which I have called ‘Executive Impression Management’. For scholars, this theory is an addition to Impression Management theory By Erving Goffman, who wrote about it in the 1950s (The Presentation of Self, 1959). My theory is brand new and applies to all managers, supervisors, team leaders or any other title for someone who is ‘in charge of others’ that is, a person who has the managerial function in the workplace. Why it is different than Goffman’s is that the workplace warps the nature of the impression management. The audience role is abbreviated, and the actor holds innate power over them. Goffman’s theory dictates that the actor is kept in check by the audience, and I discovered that this was not the case in the workplace.
I came to this understanding when I was trying to work out which manager could I trust when I set up a locum management agency in Perth in the early 2000s. If I let a manager in who decimated the small business, that would be the end of my own business, so it was imperative that I select only the ones that I could trust. The problem was that all who applied had glowing resumes and I knew that some people would lie and others would embellished their CVs.
This questioned was unanswered: Who could I trust? So I took the opportunity of my PhD to research further into that question, comparing co-workers’ views of fraudster managers and those co-workers who worked with non-fraudster managers. I used Goffman’s theory of Impression Management, as I could not understand that the fraudsters were getting away with their deceitful activities for years. What I was not expecting was the accidental findings relating to non-fraudster managers and how they use their power over or under people.
The Figure below shows how the core process is founded upon two factors: Consistency and Power. The Respectful Manager does not use power in the relationship with co-workers, as he or she treats people as equals.
Figure 1: The Core Process of Executive Impression Management
©Dr Terry Sheridan
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