Leadership and The Power of Perspective

PerspectiveI’ve been thinking recently about the importance of perspective to our role as a leader. And when I recently saw the work of Gus Petro, who put a new perspective on New York City and the Grand Canyon, it prompted me to write this article. The project is called merge (and the website can be found here). The image you see here is just one from this project.

Gus’ creative picture mashup puts two places into a new perspective, and in doing so helps us see things in new ways. And perhaps, if we spend any time considering this fresh perspective, causes us to ask ourselves new questions.

That is what perspective gives us – a new view, a new understanding and perhaps new ideas.

When we are promoted from being an individual contributor to a leader, our perspective changes in some perfunctory ways – we are privy to new information, have conversations with different people and are asked to consider things in ways that we didn’t have to before.

In those basic ways, a change in perspective is obvious and generally noticed by new leaders. While it is just the tip of the perspective iceberg, even these perspectives are often forgotten or ignored as time goes forward. The most self-aware leaders recognize that perspective is one of the most valuable things they bring to their role – and the best leaders, whether they would describe it this way or not, all use the power of perspective to be more effective and successful.

The Facts

Here are three facts about perspective and leadership.

We have it. I’ve already given you examples of how we, once in a leadership role, have access to additional perspectives on the happenings and decisions in our organizations. These new perspectives help us do our job better, understand the organization more fully and can help others understand more fully too.

We need to use it (more). Because perspective helps us in so many ways, we need to recognize the different viewpoints and apply those to our work. You know what your leadership is seeing, you can see what your team is seeing, you can ask Customers (internal or external) for their perspective – and the more of that information and perspective you have, the more effective you can be.

We need to actively expand it. The more perspective we gather, the more fully we see a situation, and the better decisions we can make, and the more effective actions we can take. Let’s dive into this a bit further.

How Perspective Aids Us

Consider watching an instant replay during a football game. Different camera angles give you a completely different view of what happened (or didn’t happen). Or consider how where you sit in a meeting, and therefore who you can hear and observe, can change your perspective and how you would describe the events of the meeting. Lastly, have you ever sat through a movie with someone and when you walked out and talked about the film you saw completely different things and had completely different observations?

Perspective.

When we gain different perspectives from our own, or our initial one, several things happen, including:

- We see complex things more clearly.
- We recognize there is likely more than one right answer or option to consider.
- We rightly see the complexity that we might not have initially noticed.
- We might be able to see connections and even simple solutions that escaped us initially.
- We now have options that we can compare.
- Because of all of this we will make better decisions and likely communicate the ones we make more effectively.
- We will build better relationships with others as they realize we are empathetic and really looked at a situation in a variety of different ways.

This is an incomplete list, but do you see how powerful it is?

Now you see the power and this article also provides some clues on how to gain new perspectives. Next week I will give you a very specific list of approaches to build your power of perspective.

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