Anyone who has ever been a part of a job interview is well aware of the importance of making a strong first impression, yet it seems that there is less emphasis on this fact as careers progress and professionals reach positions of leadership. From the perspective of an individual who has achieved a certain level of professional success and has earned a role in which they oversee the work of others, it seems that the reason for the reduced emphasis on strong first impressions may relate to the belief that their track record will simply speak for itself.
While past successes may provide a greater degree of leeway for those in leadership positions, the impressions made on others still matter a great deal. In a line of thinking that evokes the work of David Kravitz, the problem seems to be related to the inability to see ourselves as others see us. In evaluating ourselves, we include every accomplishment we can recall and dismiss any recent misstep as one small mistake among countless triumphs. This, however, is not the way others see us or evaluate us, as the information at their disposal represents a much smaller cross-section.
Professional success is therefore continually reliant on the impressions made throughout the entirety of a career, and individuals must recognize that recency bias can indeed play a major role in the evaluations made by others. This applies to everyone from new employees to even those sitting on the Supreme Court, as there are always new people making value judgments based a very small sample size. One off-color remark or unfavorable decision can therefore shape the perception of others in way that may not always be immediately recognized. With a focus on making a consistently strong impression throughout the course of an entire career, professionals can ensure that they benefit from a more accurate perception held by others.