As helpful as the maps app on your phone can be, have you ever been frustrated how the routes sometimes make no sense? Have you ever seen something from two different angles and seen something entirely different? Have you ever looked back a situation a day, or a week (or longer) later, and noticed something you never saw in the moment? Each of these are examples of how our perspective influences us in profound ways.
As a leader, we can often bring a leadership perspective to a situation, but we can get lost in our own view too. Let’s talk about why perspective is so important, and why we must consciously work to build new and different perspectives so we can achieve better results.
Why Perspective Matters
Our eyes are amazing, but they are limited. In non-technical terms they allow us to see what is in front of them. If you are in the forest, you can only see what is around you – the trees, branches and ground in your path. If you are standing on a hill looking at the same forest, you might see the same tree, but you can more, and see things differently.
Leadership perspective can involve more than just our eyes, but our other senses as well as our thinking and intuition. In a complex world, leaders must see more and see differently in order to help the team see their reality more fully. A more complete leadership perspective allows you to see opportunities that might be missed, and challenges soon enough to overcome or even avoid them.
Since perspective involves more than our eyes, this requires us to have more literal and metaphorical vantagepoints from which to see the world and situations in front of us.
How to Change Your Perspective
If perspective is so important than we must become adept at changing our leadership perspective to give us that better and more complete point of view. But unless we do something consciously, we will continue to see exactly what our eyes (and other senses) currently see. How do we do it? With a three-step process.
- Select a perspective. I’ve recently written about two leadership perspectives – the microscope and the telescope and urged readers to consider both. But there are far more perspectives than those. You (and even a group) can mentally pick a different lens to look at the world through and therefore create a new perspective. The number of perspectives you could take are nearly limitless, but here are a few practical suggestions:
- Your Customer
- Your competition
- The community you work in
- The founder of your company (or the last generation of those working there)
And here are a few less practical or common perspectives. These might help with a creative perspective that would otherwise be missed.
- An elementary school child
- A grandparent
- A political leader, living or dead
- A business leader, living or dead
- An inventor, living or dead
In the end there is no wrong perspective to consider – just follow the steps in the next step.
- Take that perspective. In short, pick one (at a time) and be specific. Don’t think “Customer” or “competitor” – pick one. The more specific you can be the more you will be able to see that perspective! Live in their shoes and their thoughts for awhile. Spend some time thinking about what they would see, think and ask, writing down your ideas and insights. Since this is a mental exercise, you must get your thoughts on paper – if you don’t they may be lost forever.
- Share that perspective. If you have done this alone, share your purpose and thought process with others, then share what you saw from that perspective. Even if you have done this mental exercise alone, encourage others to share what they see, now that you have given them a new perch to look from.
Once you have consciously taken these steps, you will be able to see any situation more fully – giving you and your team the chance to make better decisions with greater confidence and ultimately achieving greater success.
It isn’t hard to see the value in those outcomes! Taking the steps I’m suggesting to consciously change your perspective will give your those results as predictably as spring flowers follow the cold winter winds.
One of values of a great coach is providing a different perspective to those they are coaching. If you want to build your confidence and competence as a coach and developer of others, join me at an upcoming Coaching with Confidence learning experience or contact us about bringing this learning experience into your organization.